It’s Girl Scout Cookie season once again and our first year with Girl Scouts has come full circle.
I cannot begin to tell you enough how much Sam loves Girl Scouts. She says it’s because she gets to do so many fun things and learn. And it is true — our troop is quite the active one with a ton of activities on a regular basis. She has most of the patches and badges to show for it too.
I’ve to admit: never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to go camping and sleep in a tent — but thanks to Sam, we now have that experience under our belt.
She claims it is one of her most favorite activities thus far, and would love to do it again (eeeep).
Her other favorite thing to do is sell. Be it Fall Product (nuts, chocolates or magazine subscriptions) or cookies, selling “a lot” motivates her. Everyone tells me she has a knack for it (it’s true — her Mindprint results show a high score on interpersonal intelligence.) And when I ask her why she wants to sell “a lot”, she says it’s because she gets to do more fun things. That is after all the essence of the program.
A portion of the girl’s sale is given to the troop to fund the supplies and activities the girls decide to do. It’s everything from community service to just plain fun. On top of that, each girl gets a personal incentive depending on the volume they individually produce. The prizes are cumulative, so the more she sells the more she gets, be it a fancy item or Girl Scout cash (aka OC Bucks or Cookie Dough), used towards items or activities offered in the program (such as camping! You get where this is going). Sam gets to pick every prize at every level.
After last year’s attempt at cookie selling, Sam was able to earn enough Cookie Dough to buy her Brownie uniform and a little stuffed toy for Jamie. Last Fall, Sam opted for most of the cookie dough incentive, and the top prize: Tickets for 2 to see Frozen Disney on Ice.
My husband has said time and again that if we really wanted to see the show, then we could just buy the tickets (Of course, him being the ever thrifty, practical gift-giver, we probably wouldn’t have watched it out of our own pockets!). Even at a lower goal, she would’ve learned what she needed to learn anyway.
I don’t disagree, but I also see the value of her earning her way to what she wants. Girl Scouts is girl-led, so she makes the decisions herself. It’s usually a question to the parents as to whether or not we are willing to support that goal. Sam has the advantage of having her mother as a 2 on the Enneagram, so really — HOW could I say no?!
With a lot of hard work and support from friends and family all over the world, Sam got her Disney Frozen on Ice (we bought Jamie a ticket).
She also got the added bonus of being recognized as the Service Unit’s top seller for Fall Product 2015.
Fast forward to Cookie Season 2016.
Our troop leader asked the girls for their goals and Sam put hers down: 2500 Boxes of Cookies. Why? Because the Council was going to give the girls and a parent a VIP experience at Disneyland.
I freaked out (silently of course). How on earth were we going to do 2500 boxes of cookies?! A girl we knew said they did it with 42 booth sales (selling outside supermarkets, each shift lasting 2 hours). 42?! There’s no way I would stand outside a grocery store for 84 hours doing that!
After the meeting I had a chat with Sam. I wanted to see if she really understood what it entailed to sell that many cookies. I tried to talk her down to 1000, with still a decent prize of watching Cinderella. She sold over 800 last year, so it seemed doable with a reasonable amount of booth sales.
“Don’t you just want to try for 1000 first Sam?” I said very calmly.
“But mom. That’s YOUR goal,” she said. “2500 is my real goal and this is my cookie business, right?”
Was my mouth hanging open? I don’t remember.
“Sam, I want to know — what happens if you don’t make 2500? It’s just quite a big amount.” My fear was that she’d fall apart if she didn’t reach it and it would hurt her self-esteem.
She was silent in thought and then eventually responded, “It’s okay. Then we’ll try again next year,” she said with quiet confidence. So matter-of-fact this child. “But mom… we WILL try, right? We’ll really REALLY try?!”
Everyday I preach about how doing their best (and knowing they’ve put their best effort into it) matters more than high scores or the perfection of their activities, because I believed that would come naturally if you gave it your all. And here it was, echoed back at me in a perfect example. Nothing could’ve been clearer.
It was a good wake-up call for me to see that our biggest hurdle wasn’t that she couldn’t do it, but that I was afraid to try. And like I told my husband, this wasn’t about us. Because of her age, she definitely needs our help. It would have to be our goal too.
I’ve been told it’s a good problem to have a highly determined, self-motivated child who knows what she wants. And so here we find ourselves in the midst of selling 2500 boxes of cookies.
Sam openly and fearlessly declares her goal to everyone. Mostly they give her praise and wish her luck, and then they look at me with wide-eyes, as if to say, “you’re crazy!”. Some have verbalized it and some have alternatively said “you’re an amazing mom,” — which I think is a kinder version of what’s in their heads.
I smile and shrug it off, because when I look at Sam, other people’s opinions don’t faze her one bit. And because she is so “brave”, she’s gotten many “cookie angels” that have gone out of their way to help her succeed. It’s completely heart-warming.
We’re out everyday knocking on doors and asking everyone we know.
People have said no and Sam takes it in stride. We’ve gotten doors slammed in our face too, but she just moves on to the next door. She’s even asked our servers at restaurants and people we meet crossing the street. “Hi, do you want some girl scout cookies? We have them in the car.” And so make it a point to always carry Girl Scout cookies with me everywhere I go.
She has Jamie selling to her friends and teachers at school, because Jamie wants to help Ate reach her goal (also, Sam promised her a prize if she did).
Sam’s responses amaze me.
At the ballet studio during idle time someone said, “I’d love to but I didn’t bring cash“.
Sam replied, “Well, we’re here again next week. Would you like me to bring you a box then so you could have your cash?” She took note of their cookie choice and waited for them to come back that very next week.
Some have said they’re not ready to buy yet, and her response was, “That’s okay. Maybe when you’re ready to buy you’d like to get a box from me?”
I wonder where she learned it because I don’t recall teaching her that.
At Celebrate Leadership, a Girl Scout fundraiser, Sam was paired with the CEO of a large marketing firm. Sam had gotten a purchase commitment from her, and when we went to the office to deliver the cookies, the CEO took Sam around to meet people and asked them to listen to her sales pitch. All I had to do was watch (and make sure we took down the right orders).
I learn so much from my own daughter. Her independence, her drive, her patience and perseverance… the way she handles everything just leaves me in genuine awe. She’s grateful for every opportunity regardless of the outcome. And she constantly monitors her progress so she knows how much further she needs to go. She is trying with all her heart.
My own heart bursts when I see her do what she does. And I am extremely grateful at all the love, support and generosity people have shown towards her. It takes a village to raise my Sam!
With two and a half weeks done, I still worry we won’t make it. Sam chips away at the numbers slowly but surely, and has made cookie selling a part of her daily routine. On Friday, the booth sales start and hopefully it’s the boost we need before the season ends on March 6.
It seemed like she knew what was going on in my head because one night as we were going over the numbers and checking how much more she needed to sell on average, she said reassuringly, “It’s ok Mom, I know we can do it. I just have to believe in myself.”
Does anyone want some Girl Scout Cookies?