February 20, 2013

Editorial: Learning from experience


---- — Buy a cookie, and create an entrepreneur. That is the modern message behind the age-old Girl Scout Cookie Program.

Cookie sales started in 1917, and it used to be that when those little girls showed prospective customers a list of tempting Thin Mints and other goodies, the idea was just to raise money so their Scout troop could do more activities.

But over the years, the Girl Scouts of America has packaged the sales effort as cleverly as the prized cookies. A news release recently proclaimed that the cookie sales provide the girls with “an opportunity to discover their own skills, connect through teamwork and take action by achieving their goals.

“By participating in this program, girls learn five financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills, which include goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.”

It’s a good sales pitch — and not without basis, as long as the parents let the kids do the selling.

It’s true that there is plenty for the young salesgirls to learn from this annual effort. They can hone skills like being persuasive and organized. They can put their math ability to work. They can get an early lesson in the value of networking. All of those skills will help in the business world that will certainly be part of their future.

But, face it, everyone knows that the parents are just as involved in selling the cookies as the kids. Mom and dad circulate the signup sheets at their workplaces, and a good share of the sales are secured that way.

We would encourage all parents and Scout leaders to make sure the girls do as much of the selling and delivery of cookies as possible, so they will reap all the benefits from this program that the organization suggests.

Same goes for the Boy Scouts and their annual popcorn sales.

Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York is holding its cookie drive through April 7. The council serves 11,000 girls and 5,000 volunteers from 15 counties: Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington.

New this year is the Gift of Caring Program – Operation: Send A Smile, which allows customers to purchase cookies that will be sent by the organization to military personnel. You can find out more about that effort and the local cookie sales, in general, at

The annual Girl Scout cookie drive is an immensely worthwhile program, but it will have the most beneficial impact on the girls if they find that sweet success in sales on their own.