Recently in Cookies Category

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What are your girls going to do with their cookie proceeds?  I love asking girls what their goals are for cookie season, and I've gotten some great responses over the years. 

I remember the first year our daughter sold cookies and the discussion those sweet kindergarteners had.  First, they wanted to go to Paris, then Disney World, and then Krispy Kreme (our daughter proudly led the charge on that one!).  They had a great time selling cookies and then they did go Krispy Kreme -  and the fire station and to paint ceramics, among other things.  The girls loved watching all of their hard work come to fruition, and they also were delighted that they had a hand in choosing what they would do to celebrate.

Our girls dream big when it comes to these major cookie-funded decisions.  We've had girls go to all sorts of places (Our Chalet or Pax Lodge, anyone?), complete projects to support some great causes, and simply have fun in their own backyard.  Help your girls lead the making of these decisions.  They have great ideas, and they also learn about budgeting and even conflict resolution.  Making a goal at the beginning of the sale gives girls something to work toward and be excited about.

So, where will your girls go this year?  The time to decide is now!

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The cookies have arrived - just in time for a nice warm up of our weather!  We hope that you will have a chance to get outside and enjoy this weekend's warm temps and sunshine and take part in our Cookie Walkabout Weekend.  I'll be out on Saturday, myself, with my daughter, and we are looking forward to it!

Speaking of cookies, we need a great sale so that we can continue to present excellent programming for our girls, and we know that your hard work is critical to this effort. If there is something we can help with or a question we can answer, please let us know.  Our product sales team is here to help!

Time for resident camp will be with us before we know it, and we are delighted that so many girls (more than 50!) have already registered for camp.  We are looking forward to a great year, with lots of fun planned and a great new camp director (who's no stranger to most of you), Cheryl Miller. Start making plans to attend now.  We can't wait to see you at Scoutshire Woods or Kamp Kiwanis in June.

As many of you know, our Thin Mint Sprint was cancelled due to the potential for ice and the low wind chill last Saturday morning.  Our team was up and ready to greet racers when the news came that the Mobile police were asking folks to stay inside and off the roads.  We have rescheduled to April 8, with details to come!  However, girls and volunteers who registered should pick up their T-shirt and gift bag at the Mobile office as soon as possible.  The T-shirt is too cute, and you won't want to miss having one. 

Have a great Walkabout Weekend!

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Happy New Year!  I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday break.  We had a great time with our kids and extended family.  Although I admit getting both kids back into their routine this week has been hard.  Our two-year-old begged me on Tuesday morning to "pwease, pwease put my jammies back on, Mommy!" I bet many folks felt the same way that day!

Back at GSSA we are excited to start a new year, and we have so many great things going on this month.  On Saturday, our Thin Mint Sprint 5K will be presented in Mobile at the University of South Alabama.  It's going to be chilly, but so much fun. Please come and join us if you can!  Here's a link to more information: 2017 Thin Mint Sprint.

In case you haven't noticed (ha, ha), the cookie sale has begun!  Cookies should be in troop hands by this time next week, and we are hoping to have a great sale.  We've had a lot of excellent media buzz about the new cookie, which is a good start. Don't forget that girls who sell 25 boxes of cookies are eligible for the entrepreneur discount for programs and resident camp.  Also, girls who sell 800 boxes will receive $175 in program credits toward resident camp, council programs. At 1,600 boxes, girls receive another $175 in credits.

Don't forget that our Walkabout Weekend is Jan. 14-16.  This is a great time for girls to get out in their neighborhoods with their fellow troop members.  Decorate your red wagon, your scooter, or even your golf cart and have some fun selling cookies the "old fashioned" way (i.e. like we used to do it when we were kids!).

Be sure to take a Walkabout photo during Walkabout Weekend featuring your Girl Scout or Troop/Group as she/they go door-to door selling cookies, and email your photo(s)to communications@girlscoutssa.org by the end of the contest (February 24). We will place your photo in a Facebook photo album and the photo that has the most likes will win the contest. We will post photos beginning January 23, so the sooner you send them, the more time for everyone to like them!  The winner receives a $50 GSSA shop gift card!

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It's almost that time!  The holidays?  Well, yes - and I, for one, can't wait for some family fun and special times with our daughter and son.  It's also almost time for ... you guessed it, cookies!

I want to remind everyone that preorders start on Dec 26 (and not before then - we want to be fair to all of our Girl Scout sisters!). We have some great cookie merchandise in our shop, both online and at the service centers.  Be sure to check the cookie pages on our website for troop marketing resources and other important information. Everything you need should be there, and if not, please feel free to call us.  We will be happy to assist you and your girls throughout the sale.

GSSA closes for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 23, and we will re-open on Tuesday, Jan. 3. We hope that you enjoy some well-deserved time off, as well, during the holiday season.  On behalf of our staff, I want to thank each of you for your work to lead our girls into the future.  We are grateful for your love of Girl Scouting and can't wait to begin 2017.  It's going to be a great year!

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Did you know that the Girl Scout Cookie Sale turns 100 this year? What an amazing accomplishment that our cookie sale started with a great idea from one troop and grew to become world's largest girl-led entrepreneurship program.

I love the story of how the cookie sale started back in 1917, when girls from the Mistletoe Troop in Oklahoma, began selling homemade cookies to support their troop.   By 1922, Girl Scouts of the USA was encouraging troops to sell cookies as a fundraiser, and by 1936, our national organization began licensing bakers to make Girl Scout Cookies.  The rest is history!

To celebrate the 100th year of Girl Scouts selling cookies, we will promote this special occasion throughout the sale. Most notable, we have a new cookie, the S'more, which has all the flavors of the classic snack and is creating a great buzz.  I always gauge the potential success of a new cookie by how quickly it disappears from my house, and when I brought a few S'mores home for my husband and children to try, they vanished in record time to rave reviews.  I've also heard good feedback from volunteers and folks in our community who have tried them, so we hope they will fly out of our pantries and be a great success. Keep your fingers crossed!

Try Digital Cookie this year.  It's a great tool for you and your girls. Your Girl Scout can earn an online patch by selling 15+ packages by using COCO and/or COCOdirect. Volunteers can use Digital Cookie to share links on Facebook, manage reports, and use many more great tools.

Cookie drive-thru's are back this year! These were so much fun last year and got some great publicity for us.  We hope we've worked out all the kinks and will offer more strategic locations this year.  Please help us locate drive-thru locations in your area that you think will help drive the sale. Drive-thru location signup will be through SNAP, just like a regular Cookie Booth Sale, and you can get the drive-thru equipment through your service unit manager.

We are excited about the 2017 Cookie Sale, and I hope you are, too!

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Almost one hundred years ago, an international phenomenon began - and it was started by Girl Scouts. In 1917, just five years after Girl Scouts was founded an ambitious group of girls in Muskogee, Okla., baked cookies and sold them as a service project for their troop.  By 1922, girls across the county were selling cookies -- and the rest is history!

This cookie season, we will celebrate the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts selling cookies.  We have a brand-new cookie, the S'more, to commemorate this special occasion, and we have lots of fun contests and activities planned for our girls. 

Let's get this cookie season started off right!  Make plans to attend your service unit's cookie training, which should be coming up soon.  This training will provide you with an overview of all you need to know for the sale. Also, bring your girls to our Cookie University events in Mobile and Montgomery, which will have a fun, festival atmosphere and offer girls the chance to earn the 2017 cookie pin.

Since we don't have cookies available quite yet, here's a recipe for the "Original" Girl Scout cookie for you to try. I'm not sure how authentic it is, but it does sound tasty!

Original Girl Scout Cookies

????         1 cup butter, or substitute

????         1 cup sugar

????         2 tablespoons of milk

????         2 eggs

????         1 teaspoon of vanilla

????         2 cups of flour

????         2 teaspoons of baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together, add well beaten eggs, then milk, flavoring, flour and baking powder. Roll thin and bake in quick oven. Sprinkle sugar on top.

 

 

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Spring is in the air, and spring break is here or about to commence.   I enjoy seeing what many of you do during spring break.   Most everyone that I see photos of is enjoying the beauty of spring and the outdoors.   Funny, I wonder if there is a correlation between that and being a Girl Scout?   I suspect there is.   I'm also struck by how so many of you are people of action, not sitting on the couch much.   Most of you are out with your kids spending time investing in their fun.   It is good to watch and share in those memories.

We have some great spring programs for the end of the school year.   All look fun and like things I would want to do.   I want to remind you that the annual meeting is at Kamp Kiwanis on Saturday, April 9.   There will be an update of what went on last fiscal year with the audit results and the annual report.   We have a good day planned for girls and adults.

We continue to work to sell the excess cookie inventory.   As an appreciation gesture, we will sell cases of cookies for $25.   This includes mixed cases. If you have an interest or know of some businesses that would like to purchase them as thank you gifts, please send Teri Eversole or Amy Murray an e-mail.   They are teversole@girlscoutssa.org and amurray@girlscoutssa.org.

Camp information is on the website, and we are working on camp sign up.   As a reminder, for those who aren't quite ready for a night in a tent, we do offer day camp for those girls who want to come home.   I know each year we have some involved in softball and other sports activities, so for them day camp is a good option.   It should be a great year at resident camp.   We are going to work on teaching lots of basic camping skills in addition to the program the girls sign up for.   As always, there is financial assistance available, and that application can be found in the camp materials at www.girlscoutssa.org/camp.

As we think through the importance of this wonderful time of year, I want to let you know how much we appreciate the hard work and care you put into being a Girl Scout.   Thank you. Enjoy this beautiful spring!

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We have been fortunate to have some really great cookie programs since I have been here.   It is interesting to me that this year the feedback we are receiving says people just aren't buying cookies.   They walk past and not only do they say no to purchasing, but they aren't exactly even nice about it.   I find that troubling and wonder what that says about our slipping civility.

We did receive a great deal of feedback about the cookie program, some things we can improve and lots of great suggestions and ideas.   In an effort to respond to those, I wanted to be sure to address some of the consistent concerns we received.

First, we closed out last year $53,000 in the red, or in "the hole."   Again, this happened for the first time since I have been here.   Last year, the girls sold lots of cookies and did a great job.   We wound up with $40,000 in excess cookie inventory because we had one parent take $40,000 in cookies and not pay. We also had a significant cut in the River Region United Way funding, $38,000, so we had $118,000 in unanticipated lost revenue.  

It is important that we work hard to assure our income matches what we spend annually.   We eliminated two full-time positions from the budget, which we have been doing over the past few years.   We have many less staff than we had even three years ago.   Salaries are the largest expenditure in our budget, with utilities the next highest.   And it is pretty tough to cut our utility consumption.   Watching what we spend is on everyone's mind this year.

We made many changes to the cookie program.   We did increase the price of a box of cookies from $3.50 to $4 per box, and we were late in doing that, as many other councils went to $4 several years ago.   The councils in the western United States are at $5 now.   Clearly, there is some price sensitivity, and we want to be aware of that.   It is interesting to me because the Mobile office is one block from a Starbucks.   As I come and go, I see cars lined up to purchase single cups of coffee for over $5, but $4 for a box of cookies that do last awhile is a high-cost item.   There's some incongruity on the part of the public on this issue.

As we dissected what we were doing, we realized had so many contests, rewards and the like we were actually losing money from the top cookie sellers.   The cost of patches and additional bars was unbelievable.   As we worked through each issue, we discussed what is valuable to a girl selling and what isn't.   Many said the additional patches were often not used and put in a drawer or never put on to a sash or vest.   Rather than waste valuable financial resources, we decided it was best to allow a girl to make her own decision about the additional patches.   When those run $.45 each, and you multiply those across 5000+ girls selling cookies, and they come at each level, you can imagine what the cost of that is.

We did move from a system that rewarded large troops with the bonus to one that is more equitable across all troops, no matter their size.   Now, don't get me wrong, we do understand every troop has girls that are stars and sell lots of cookies while others do the minimum to get by.   I suspect every troop has that situation.   However, the previous system rewarded large troops at the expense of smaller troops.   Our troop sizes run the gamut from very large to very small.   We are interested in a system that is equitable.   Most of the country uses per girl average and not troop totals, so our previous system was somewhat out of sync.

Just to give you an idea, I spent a week taking last year's troop results and applying the new formula to see what the net effect was.   I had about 10 pages of numbers by troop to determine what the net effect would be on  our girls.   The short answer is that, when I ran the numbers, many troops benefitted from the new system.   There was a group in the middle where there was no impact, and a small group would have seen a troop decrease, but the number of troops that would experience a decrease predicated on the new formula was small based on last year's data.   That is why we made that change coupled with the price increase.   Returning to my earlier point, we did increase the troop proceeds, but also need to balance the budget.

There was a lot of complaining about some of the incentives; in fact, the one that is taking a beating is the hand sanitizer.   As a reminder, the council staff asks the girls to select the incentives.   What we have found is that girls have a better feel for what they like than we do.   The hand sanitizer is at a level where the girls have a choice, so they do not need to select the hand sanitizer.   We have consistently found that the some of the things the council staff likes is not what is selected by the girls, so we are pretty careful to use the data provided by the online surveys and the surveys of girls done at council events.

Another common theme was around the cost of camp and how hard it is to reach 800 boxes of cookies for program credits.   We have had to locate and use another vendor to provide our horse camp horses.   Please understand, we are renting someone else's horses for 3 weeks.   This involves moving him or her, feeding the horses, and having a vet certify each horse.   The cost of the horses increased significantly.   We have been trying to be very modest in our increases in the cost of camps, but when you compare the cost of a week of Girl Scout camp to any other camp, ours are significantly less expensive.   Most girls who earn the program credits do not use them for camp.

We appreciate that you take your valuable time to make this endeavor work.   We recognize this is countless weekends, sometimes in the cold.  You often work with parents who aren't responsible, responsive, or cooperative.   We do understand that this is hard work and sometimes it feels thankless, but as I travel around and have the privilege of meeting some of the girls you work with.   Your investment of time is recognizable, because these girls can do anything.   Thank you for all you do. It is a labor of love.

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The cookie program has been slow this year, and we can't figure out quite why.   This is normally a time when we are simply frantic working to keep up.   The volunteers we have been talking to say the cookies have just not been moving.   When they are usually returning to the cupboard for more cookies, they have not had to return this year.   Last year, we ended the sale with $40,000 in excess cookie inventory, so we are doing everything we can to help the girls move cookies, since that is hard on the entire program and costs everyone money.   We are soliciting ideas for how to finish up this year strong and sell the cookies that remain in our cupboards and in troop hands.  Please email us your ideas at communications@girlscoutssa.org.

We haven't heard much about the cookie drive-thrus. Did they work, or were they a bust?   We also had a hard time scheduling some of the Wal-Marts we would normally have set up prior to the start of the sale, so we are working to do some booth sales in the new neighborhood grocery stores, as they seem to be filled with cars when we go by many of them.   We would be interested in feedback on why you think the sale is slower than usual.

I have seen girls out and about selling cookies.   We also had more girls registered this year, so in some ways this is counter-intuitive as to why the cookie program is lagging.   We still don't see much action-selling on COCO direct, which is a good way to sell because you do not have to touch the cookies. You just send the postcards and your friends and family order.

We hope the program has been a learning experience for the girls you work with.   Each year, I hear about girls who learn they have a voice.   They can approach strangers, take no for an answer, and learn how to count change.   In all, it is a great learning experience.   Thanks for all you do to make this possible. Please help our girls by helping us end the sale on a solid note!

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Bling your booth!   I was surfing GSUSA's Bling Your Booth Facebook page, and so far there are only 68 booths posted.   If there are 25 winners, I would say at the moment the odds are pretty good to win.  Of those 68, only one is from GSSA troop from Mobile.   Now, I know the girls of this council, and they are an exceptional group.   So, if you are exceptional in decorations, color, and creativity, you should bling your cookie booth!   We have some good booths; let's show them off!

Just a reminder about some of the contests of this year's cookie program. Your chances of being a council super seller are easier because we divided the council into 5 regions, since some were rural and others more heavily populated.   The super seller for their region has a choice between a Kindle Fire or a $200 GSSA program credit.   Also, all girls who sell 150 or more packages of cookies are entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire.

This year, we moved to a different troop proceeds program, which is based on a per-girl average for the troop with the minimum being 8 in a troop.   When we did the calculations this resulted in about the same proceeds across all groups, but rewarded those troops that had across the board participation.   This is a more common troop proceeds approach across Girl Scout councils, and it made sense to change it as we changed the price of the cookies.

Each year one of the fun parts of the cookie program is for those who purchase more than five boxes of cookies.   If they fill out the entry form, there is a drawing for a year's worth of cookies, which is six cases of their choice.   We will do this drawing again for each region of the council, so your buyers have the opportunity to enter into the fun. It's always fun when we show up with balloons and cookies to tell them they've won!

Troops that meet all the troop deadlines earn $.40/case of cookies, so it is worth it to work to meet the deadlines to increase your troop earning power.

GSSA is supported by the many military that inhabit our council territory, including the Coast Guard Bases in Mobile, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, and Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass.   These individuals lay their lives on the line daily so we can savor our freedom.   Many people don't want to purchase cookies for a variety of reasons, but are willing to purchase cookies for our military troops.   If you can't make a sale with those walking past, try asking about having them purchase cookies on Operation Cookie Care Package.   A donation to Operation Cookie Care Package earns your troop sales credit and proceeds, and you are doing a good deed for those who don't have an opportunity to visit a cookie booth.   For those girls who turn in donations for 10 or more packages of cookies, you can purchase an Operation Cookie Care Package patch.   Each year at the end of the sale I'm always impressed with the number of girls who take this seriously and provide much-appreciated cookies to the troops deployed or military organizations.

Thank you for all your work to make the sale a great success.

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