Let Girls Take The Lead In Girlscouts


It’s right on the box of cookies: Five skills that girlscouts develop with the cookie program.

  1. Goal Setting
  2. Decision Making
  3. Money Management
  4. People Skills
  5. Business Ethics

So why is it that so many parents and adult leaders of girlscouts dominate, nudge out, or try to buffer the girls from managing and leading this program?  At countless workplaces parents of girlscouts sell cookies to their work peers and colleagues while the girls never seem to be involved other than perhaps hearing from the parent about the great sales that took place.

Last weekend my husband came home with three boxes of cookies when he encountered selling outside a local grocery store.  Here’s how he describes what happened.  Outside the grocery store was a setup of tables filled with cookies.  A few girlscouts were sitting on chairs at the tables.  Adult parents or scout leaders were standing and soliciting customers, describing cookies, filling orders, and handling the money.  The girl scouts were noticeably bored and did not appear to be involved in any of the five goals of the program.  My husband decided to purchase some cookies, so he made eye contact with a girl of about eight or nine years in age, and walked past two intercepting parents to talk directly to the girl scout.  He told the girl he had heard there was a new flavor of cookie this year.  She brightened and picked up a box to show him the new cookie just as a parent came over and started to “sell” him.  My husband simply ignored the adult and focused on the girl scout who read from the rah-rah raisins box and described how good these cookies are.  My husband then said he’d take a box of those, plus asked the girl scout for two additional boxes of our old favorites.  The interfering parent still tried to “butt in” and handle the money, but my husband pointedly asked the girl how much he owed.  She told him $12 and he handed her a  twenty dollar bill.  The hovering parent told the girlscout how much change to give, but my husband suggested that the extra $8 should go in the donation box.    The girl scout was ecstatic to have finally made a sale!  After sitting bored all morning and watching her parents do all the selling, she maybe had a tiny glimpse of the leadership characteristics the Girlscouts envisioned from the cookie program.

Have you witnessed similar situations with parents hovering and swooping in to take care of every need of a child, only to later complain that the younger generation has no problem solving, critical thinking and leadership capacity?