I'm sitting in the Volunteer Center writing this while surrounded by cases of cookies. The smell is almost overwhelming -- fresh cookies, just off the truck from the baker. The world's largest girl-led entrepreneurial program is about to commence!
I want to run through a few reminders of issues we encounter during the cookie program.
1. Girls must be registered as a Girl Scout for the current membership year, which started October 1, 2012, to sell cookies. That means she and/or her parent needed to fill out the paperwork, sign the form and provide the requisite $12 annual membership fee.
2. Girls and their parents must complete and familiarize themselves with the permission forms to sell, which also highlight the safety rules for selling. Assuring safety is always a concern in working with girls, especially in parking lots with cash in hand during a tough economy.
3. The best cookie program experience for the girls is one that involves using the program materials that the cookie baker has developed. These can be accessed by going to www.abcsmartcookie.com and signing up for COCO Cookie Command. The fun activities (materials) emphasize the five goals of the cookie program.
4. If you are having issues or troubles with facets of the sale it is better to let us know sooner rather than later. We will have a cookie hot line going during the sale. The telephone number for the cookie hot line is our council phone number, 800-239-6636, option 5.
5. ABC Bakers, our cookie baker, also has a hotline available if you are having issues using SNAP or COCO, they can be reached by 800-221-1002.
6. We are pleased that the new cookie this year is receiving some excellent attention. I saw it this morning on ABC's Good Morning America program. It is a mango crème cookie with Nutrifusion. Nutrifusion means the baker actually used the mangoes and coconut in the filling more directly than in a typical sandwich cookie. As we know, smelling is a very large part of flavor, so give it a whiff. It is like an inexpensive trip to a tropical island without leaving the state.
7. Every year this is when we have anonymous calls and accusations about the "conspiracy" between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood. Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama does not have a relationship with Planned Parenthood. We do not provide them any funds and believe these issues are best discussed within a family and church setting. GSSA's board-approved statement on this topic can be found on this link, What GSSA Stands For. This mythology always reaches a peak during the cookie program.
8. Vegan is a new label on the Cookie Order Card this year. The Thin Mints are labeled Vegan. Lemonaids, Thanks-a-Lots and Peanut Butter Patties are Vegan, but are not labeled as such. ABC Bakers have NOT changed the anything in the cookie recipes, and these cookies always have been Vegan.
9. This is supposed to be fun. I've been around some tremendous leaders who have made this an incredible learning experience for the girls, and I have seen girls grow and come out of their silence during this program. I recognize this is a tough sell to you, since you have picked up your cookies, have the always errant parent who never pays, gives you a bad check, or does something else absolutely infuriating. We hear horror stories daily about frustrating behaviors on the part of others during this experience. And trust me, we have to deal with most of those.
My least favorite cookie-related issue occurred during the first two years I was here. We had two instances of parents throwing cookie boxes at one another in front of the girls because there was a fight over who got which door at the Wal-mart cookie booth sale. As you see, now if you are doing a booth sale, one troop takes both doors. Please let us know if you experience troop leaders not illustrating the Girl Scout Law and Promise. Children see us as role models.
And most important, thank you for all you do during this incredible learning experience. Last year we sold more than $3 million in Girl Scout cookies. The girls, with your assistance, made enough money to install zip lines, a new bath house, and a new sail loft at our properties. That is because you shared your time, patience, diligence, and responsibility with them so they could learn to be the best entrepreneurial program for girls in the world!