Girl Scout Sales Are About More Than the Cookies

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
During cookie season, Girl Scout cookies outsell Oreos. A bunch of little girls, young women and their moms basically steal the sales of a commercial giant that invests millions of dollars in marketing campaigns every year.

“It’s interesting that an organization that is run by girls and powered by volunteers can have that kind of impact,” said Sally Honiotes of Ottawa, member specialist for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois.

Is it because the cookies are just that delicious? Is it because the girls are marketing geniuses? Or is it because local communities get behind what the cookies stand for?

Cookie sales are designed to teach Girl Scouts five basic skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Peru Troop 1668 leader Anastacia Ross of Spring Valley said the girls learn good manners through the cookie sales. They’re at their booths saying please and thank you, and graciously dealing with any negative responses. They practice marketing skills when they prepare signs and posters for their booths. And they learn that hard work pays off.

“We haven’t had to have our girls pay dues this semester,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of things we can do because of the cookie money, and they know that they helped earn it.”

Cookie sales kick off with a Girl Scout cookie rally each year, where the girls visit stations that focus on the five skills.

“They can kind of go into it a little more prepared,” said Lisa Sons, program specialist for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, northern region.

The three Cs of the Girl Scouts are courage, character and confidence.
“I thoroughly believe in that,” Sons said. “I love seeing that happen — when we have girls in the program and you can see that they have grown.”

Peru Troop 1267 leaders Julie Brucki and Kris Selquist have watched their daughters grow through Girl Scouts over the past six years.

Brucki said her favorite part is seeing the unity that has developed among the girls, now in seventh grade.

“We have girls from four different schools that get together and have become friends over the years,” she said. “I think that will progress and follow them through the high school years.”

Selquist said Girl Scouts helped the girls learn how to get along well with others.
“It’s teaching them how to be courteous and kind young women,” she said, “and independent, strong women.”

Troop 1267 meets once a month, alternating between a regular meeting and a service project. Selquist said the girls have attended hockey games together over the years, and her favorite activity was taking them camping. The girls can continue in scouting as long as they want, she said, even into high school and adulthood.

“There’s a level for that,” she said.

Ross said she was a Girl Scout herself for 12 years.

“It was just such a great experience for me growing up to learn different skills,” she said, adding that she particularly enjoyed the singing and the different camps. “I hope to give that experience to my daughter.”

Troop 1668 consists of first- through third-grade girls right now, and Ross co-leads it with Lisa Donnell. The leaders have planned several field trips to showcase women in various workplace settings.

“I like to try to focus on some of the STEM careers,” said Ross, who is an engineer. “I’m trying to expose them to different things that women are able to do.”

The young troop meets twice a month in addition to field trips such as visiting Echo Bluff to ice skate and attend nature programs.

“I like to get them out and about and learning different things,” Ross said. “We like to do community service, too. We help at the veterans home and different things throughout the community.”

Christine Mitchell said the Peru area troops — Troop 1355 and Troop 1486 — she leads with Melissa Herron and Sam Brown enjoy visiting the veterans home as well.

“Personally I feel our most loved projects are the times we go to the veterans home to visit, play bingo, sing songs and deliver small gifts to each veteran numerous times throughout the year,” Mitchell said.

Members wanted
There are more than 300 Girl Scouts in Bureau and Putnam Counties, and more than 500 in La Salle County, Honiotes said.

“We pretty much have troops in every town, or there’s girls participating in every town,” she said. “Girls are always welcome to join any time throughout the year.”
Local troops can be located by visiting or emailing Honiotes at

Honiotes said adult volunteers are always needed, as well, and Mitchell agreed.

“There is such a huge need for more troop leaders,” Mitchell said. “Our troop keeps getting bigger and bigger and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

She said she loves being able to provide girls with the opportunity to be a Girl Scout.

“Through positive Girl Scout experiences girls can develop a strong sense of self and positive values. They develop healthy relationships that promote cooperation and team building,” Mitchell said. “Girl Scouts is so much more than just selling cookies, going camping and having fun. Girl Scouts gives young ladies today the chance to develop leadership skills, recognize their strengths and learn to take active roles in their community, not only now but in the future as well.”

Girl Scouts provides training and support to leaders, so they don’t have to figure it all out on their own.

“We have a ton of resources available to them,” Honiotes said. “We even give them a year of meetings planned out for their first year.”

The time commitment is completely up to the individual troops’ leaders, too. They could meet every week or once a month — whatever works for them.

“It really is up to the leader,” Honiotes said, “because without them we don’t have a troop.”

And by the way, you don’t have to be a mom to be involved with Girl Scouts.

“I don’t have children of my own, so I kind of live vicariously through my work with Girl Scouts,” Sons said. “It feels good to watch them grow.”

Which cookie is best?
Thin Mints are the most popular Girl Scout cookie, making up 25 percent of the organization’s cookie sales, Honiotes said. Second place goes to the Caramel deLites (known in other regions as Samoas), and third place waffles between the Peanut Butter Sandwich (aka Do-si-dos) and Peanut Butter Patties (Tagalongs).

Area Girl Scout leaders are divided on which Girl Scout cookie is the best. Here are some of their favorites:

Julie Brucki: “My favorite cookie, of course, is Thin Mints.”

Anastacia Ross: “I think the Lemonades have usurped the Thin Mints,” she said. “They’re very addicting.”

Kris Selquist: “It’s too hard to decide. I only have one that I don’t like, and I won’t say what it is.”

Christine Mitchell: “I can’t just pick one: Peanut Butter Patties, Thin Mints and Lemonades are my go-to cookies!”

Sally Honiotes: “I like the Thin Mints, but the Thanks-A-Lot are a VERY close second! If I could only have one, I would go with Thin Mints.”

Lisa Sons: “Before I became diabetic, my favorite, hands down, was Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Now ... I typically contribute to Operation Cookie Share.”

What is operation cookie share?
Operation Cookie Share is a partnership between Girl Scouts and State Farm that sends cookies to U.S. military serving at home and abroad. Girl Scouts collect the donations, and State Farm covers the delivery costs. Patrons can contribute to the program by paying for boxes of cookies to be distributed to the military.
“We can’t send anything with chocolate,” Honiotes said, “so the Thin Mints can’t go, because they’ll melt.”

Source: News Tribune