By CARLA BUSH
Annual tradition evolved from local service project in Oklahoma to invaluable business and economic literacy program for girls.
Every year, Girl Scouts exercise and hone their business skills to sell approximately 200 million boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. To achieve this extraordinary level of accomplishment, many girls design business cards, posters, newsletters and press kits to support their cookie program goals; they even make formal presentations to local businesses such as banks and local retailers.
The Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee (GSMT) will sell Girl Scout Cookies from January 1 - March 2. This is the twelfth year that GSMT will sell cookies for $3.50 a package.
All participating girls build fundamental business and economic literacy skills. From making change to tracking revenue, girls practice the basics of money management, learning how to sync spending with earnings and stay on budget.
"The Girl Scout Cookie Program is truly a girl -led business," said Cathy Ratliff, Director of Product Programs at the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee. "Our girls set their own goals, learn the skills needed to sell cookies and determine how to spend their proceeds. Many of our troops plan to use the money earned to go on a trip, go to summer camp or participate in a fun activity."
In terms of skill building, statistics show the Girl Scout Cookie Program works. According to a survey from the Girl Scout Research Institute, 85 percent of Girl Scout "cookie entrepreneurs" learn money management through developing budgets, taking cookie orders and handling customers' money. Furthermore, 83 percent build business ethics, 80 percent learn goal setting, 77 percent improve in the decision-making arena and 75 percent develop their people skills.
Notably, all of the revenue earned from Girl Scout cookie activities-every penny after paying the bakers-stays with the local Girl Scout council sponsoring the sale. Councils use cookie revenue to supply essential services to troops, groups, and individual girls, providing program resources and communication support, training adult volunteers and conducting events. And as part of their experience in any Girl Scout product activity, girls at every Girl Scout level can earn official Girl Scout awards, including cookie and financial literacy badges and an annually awarded Cookie Activity pin.
The Girl Scout Cookie Program launched in 1917 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where the Mistletoe Troop baked and sold cookies in its high school cafeteria as a service project. In 1922, The American Girl magazine published by Girl Scout national headquarters featured a cookie recipe together with estimated costs and suggested pricing. In 1936, Girl Scouts of the USA began licensing a commercial baker, and in 1937 more than 125 Girl Scout councils took part in the cookie program. Thin Mints-the most popular Girl Scout cookie variety-made their debut in 1951 as "Chocolate Mints."