Girls Scout cookie season is back, providing more than just cookies

There are a few seasons we can count on every year in Arizona: taxes, spring training, hot weather, and Girl Scout Cookies. While rising temps and baseball aren’t here just yet, submitting those W-2’s and chowing down on a pack of Do-Si-Do’s are. Here in Arizona, the Girl Scouts provide the community with boxes of delicious cookies while inspiring local girls to develop skills that they can carry with them to school and beyond.  

Over the years, the Girl Scouts has become synonymous with cookies, but it started out as a skills development program. Started back in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia, the Girl Scouts wanted to focus on helping girls learn about community service, first aid, entrepreneurship and leadership at a time when women didn’t have the right to vote. One of the ways in which entrepreneurship was expanded upon in the program was through selling boxes of delicious cookies.

Girl Scout Cookies continue to be the largest financial investment in young women annually in the country and inspires them to move into leadership and entrepreneurial roles. While female-founded startups led by women in charge bring in more revenue year-over-year than those led by men, only 17 percent of all startups are female-founded. That’s something that motivates Heather Thornton, senior manager of marketing and communications for Girl Scouts Arizona.

“Girl Scouts takes the potential of girls, combines it with robust skill-building programming, and adds caring adult mentors and strong female role models,” says Thornton. “As cookie entrepreneurs, girls gain essential life skills and work as a team to accomplish common goals and solve problems, while building the confidence they need to shine as girls, as young women, and as future leaders.”

Thornton points out that more than half of female entrepreneurs in the United States are Girl Scouts alums who have carried on the lessons learned from the program to their careers. The Girl Scouts teaches girls more than just how to sell cookies. Business skills and leadership qualities are taught and ingrained in the members as they partake in learning opportunities together.

For Tali Hamer, whose daughter Ella is a Girl Scout here in Arizona, it’s the opportunity to see her daughter and girls like her develop technical and business skills that provides a feeling of pride and accomplishment, especially when it comes to promising opportunities in fields like science and technology.

“[The Scouts] can explore careers and hobbies from the arts to STEM. The Girl Scouts organization not only makes these courses available but allows the girls to pay for these using the cookie money that they earned,” Hamer said. “All the great values of the Girl Scouts organization shine through these girls when they are out there. It’s a great fit for our family and what we personally believe in. I love that the girls can put into practice the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law while they’re selling.”

For Ella, learning about different decision-making and business skills is something that’s inspiring her outlook on future entrepreneurship.

“A girl has to decide how to most efficiently spend her time and maximize her cookie sales. Will they go on walkabouts throughout their neighborhood and maybe local shopping centers? Or instead will they sign up for multiple booths to sell to customers leaving grocery stores? What other product can a kindergartener to [high school] senior sell that gives them this kind of business experience?” she explains.

Proceeds from the cookie selling season can go to local entities, such as funding service projects for the community, thus pumping life back into Arizona’s neighborhoods. Speaking of proceeds, Girl Scout Cookies bring in more dollars in three months of slinging boxes compared to a whole year’s worth of sales of Nabisco’s Oreo cookies.

From January to April, more than one million Girl Scouts take to the streets in the United States to sell around 200 million boxes of cookies, supporting the $800 million business, which breaks Oreo’s $675 million sales for the entire year.

“From helping animal shelters and feeding the homeless to raising awareness about bullying, purchasing goods to donate to Goodwill, making public areas more accessible to people with disabilities, and tons more, Girl Scouts can and will do anything they put their hearts and minds to,” says Thornton.

Nick Esquer

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