Scouting Tomorrow’s Leaders

Annah Elizabeth2 Comments

It’s that time of year, again.

Cabin fever.

Spring fever.

Daylight savings time.

Girl Scout cookies.

Several weeks ago I passed a group of young girls standing at the edge of a parking lot, waving brightly decorated signs “GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!”

The air outside was bitterly cold and snow blew wildly on the wind.

I made a U-Turn and headed back to the business where one of the youth greeted me as I left my car, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”

The sight of these five girls fulfilling the goals of the organization’s premise moved me to offer some form of sponsorship.

“I’m afraid I don’t need any more goodies,” I said, “but I am so proud of you girls for being out here and doing this, so I’d like to donate one dollar for each of you.”
Then I nodded to the moms standing off to the side and told them how much I appreciated the girls’ dedication.

During most annual sales Warren and I fill our cupboard with the delicious wafers, and add a few extras to our freezers.

A year’s supply of Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Shortbread, and coconut Samoa’s.

But this year we purchased a measly five boxes of deliciousness.

My recent battle of the bulge and the 5k training regimen I’ve undertaken have forced me to limit yummy splurges.

As such, when this young lady approached us at Big Guy’s soccer game last weekend, lugging around this enormous gym bag filled with the brightly colored packages, Warren’s first response was to tell her, “Sorry, Honey, we’ve already purchased a bunch of boxes.”
Me? What did I do?
“She’s taking the initiative to do this herself,” I whispered into Warren’s ear, “we have to support her.”
And so we ended up with yet two more boxes.
Here’s what impressed me: The adults weren’t running the show. Grown-ups weren’t selling the cookies—the Scouts were.
All three of my children were involved in Scouting, so I’m well acquainted with the pedaling of popcorn and confections.
And the incentives companies offer to its Top Sellers.
There seems to be a great deal of pressure on kids to Sell, Sell, Sell.
And though the funds are needed to offset or cover costs of troop activities, I feel that too often the organization’s goals for the participants are lost in politics and the pursuit of the almighty dollar.
Each container of GS cookies touts the skills girls develop while participating in the program.
But here’s the catch: These proficiencies are obtained through practice, preparation that comes only through doing.
Each year, we encouraged our children to set realistic goals that they could achieve on their own or with our assistance.
But they sold every single item.
If they asked me to take an order form to work, I would, but they prepared a note that they attached to the document.
If we couldn’t arrange for them to deliver the product themselves, a handwritten note—with their words of appreciation—was included with each delivery.
I’ll never forget the one year Beauty doubled her goal from eighteen to thirty-five boxes.
She was so proud to turn in her sale of thirty-eight boxes.
And she was a bit miffed when the leader’s daughter gloated over selling almost nine-hundred boxes and, once again, winning the grandest prize from the brochure.
“It’s not fair,” she lamented, “she didn’t sell those boxes, her mom and dad did at all those businesses they own.”
Even in elementary school she recognized the disparity between those who do their own work and those who don’t.
I simply reminded her that she was the one gathering the skills that would serve her well in life, and that those elements were more valuable than any cool bag or plastic slinky.
I can’t tell you how many times in recent years I’ve had parents approach me or include me in a mass Facebook solicitation, one where they were publicizing their child’s scout or school products.
Each time I’ve indicated I’d be happy to support their child’s efforts and to have him/her drop me a note via e-mail, to text me or give me a quick call at home.
And I can honestly say that not one single youth has ever reached out.
Even in the age of such accessibility, not one.
But that little gal on the soccer pitch is fulfilling all of Girl Scout’s goals.
Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
And I’d bet my bottom dollar that she’s not only today’s scout, she one of tomorrow’s leaders.
What about you? How do you help your children with their endeavors? Do you find yourself doing it for them for the sake of saving time? Or do you require that they be fully engaged in the process?

2 Comments on “Scouting Tomorrow’s Leaders”

  1. I have boys, so there were no years of cookie drives initiated by them. However, there were umpteen “wrapping paper and gift sales” and assorted other things that become endlessly dreary – especially on a single mom budget, and working from home. Every other kid’s parent(s) is (are) doing their level best for their child…

    Why oh why do we do these things and take them so seriously? (I’m serious.)

    As for girl scout cookies, it’s a slightly different matter. First off, for those of us who sold them in our own “olden days,” it brings a smile to see the continuity and earnest young faces pushing this particular product which, admittedly, is delicious.

    I quote:

    ” A year’s supply of Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Shortbread, and coconut Samoa’s.

    Those Samoas! Those Thin Mints!

    I never bought a year’s supply – they would’ve gone straight to the hips (the boobs, the butt)… Two to four boxes, and that was it!

  2. BLW,

    Maybe that year’s supply of 8-10 boxes is the reason my hips (boobs, butt) are in the shape they are! LOL

    Fundraising is one of a parent’s greatest headaches, I think, especially in an era that every group is selling something to keep afloat. (Schools, sports, scouts…even the singers are selling!)

    I think that for many who take it so seriously, it’s all about the politics and the competition.

    For me, it was all just a small part of Teaching our Children to Fish… (and dreary those things can be!)

    Somehow, I think you are the type who looked at such issues similarly… Would you agree?

    And you’re right: “Every other kid’s parent(s) is (are) doing their level best for their child…”

    One of my many Mama Mantras was: “Every day of our lives we are simply doing the best we can with what we have. Somedays that best is better than others.”

    I’m just a bit sensitive, I guess, because I see so many children who are raised to think that everything is handed to them or done for them. They don’t know the value of hard work and then they get out into the real world and think the rest of us owe them a living, that the rest of us are going to make sure they are provided with the best of everything…

    I think we need to get back to raising our kids to feel pride in their own accomplishments, to understand that life isn’t always fair or equal, but that at the end of the day, their value will be based on how they carry themselves…it will be based on the quality of life they led…

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