For Madisyn “Madi” Van Hemert, a 12th grader in Girl Scout Troop 212, these goals are exciting, achievable and educational.
“After 12 years of scouts, I have learned many valuable life skills,” said Van Hemert. “Money management has been the biggest skill. Additionally, I have learned customer service skills, budgeting and how to grow with the modernizing advances that we have to incorporate.”
Van Hemert is also working on a project for a Gold Award, the highest earned award in Girl Scouts, which must be started in high school and must demonstrate leadership skills and a desire to give back to the community.
Mentoring her on her project will be Nikki Lober, the Troop 212 leader, who has been involved with Girl Scouts for more than 30 years.
Lober recently collected comments to post in the girls’ own words about their goals and what they have learned from the cookie sale.
“I have been privileged to lead this troop and see many girls come and go,” she said. “I have seen each and every one of them grow and leave our troop with more skills and more confidence than when they started.”
Since her scouting daughter, Amelia, graduated from high school, the troop has been limited to older girls in middle and high school, thus “providing a place for any girl who wants to continue but their original troop does not,” she added.
So far, Troop 212, which has been active for 19 years, has welcomed girls from six troops. There are 16 registered girls this year.
Lober also is the cookie manager for the Sunny Peaks Service Unit and trains all the Girl Scout leaders in Sedona, Flagstaff, Williams, Winslow and Page on the procedures for the cookie sale and how to teach the girls and parents how to have a successful cookie sale.
“Most of these girls have been selling for years, so I support them by training them on new information for the year and making sure they have the resources they need. Each year, the older girls plan a Cookie Kickoff or Cookie Rally. At this event, they have activities to teach the younger girls the skills needed to be successful in the cookie sale.”
This year, the troop goal is to sell 12,000 boxes. There are 12 girls selling and their goals range from 250 to 3,500 boxes, depending on the time they have to put into the sale.
The girls train with a cookie booth. They take turns sharpening their professional behavior and sales pitch. They also engage in a door-to-door sales practice to help them become more comfortable talking to customers.
A cookie-tasting session teaches them about the cookie varieties, so they know their products.
They also learn about goal setting for themselves and their troop and play a business ethics game to learn how to live by the Girl Scout Law throughout the cookie sale. “The older girls make sure that each activity has some fun to go with the learning,” Lober said.
On the cookie website, Emma Hirning, an 11th grader, wrote that she completed her Gold Award in 2022, and that she has enjoyed being her own “cookie boss.” She states that she is “hoping to sell 350 boxes this year to be able to make wonderful memories with some of my best friends in Troop 212! I am so happy to have the opportunity to raise money to go on fun trips with some of my favorite people!”
The history of the Girl Scout Cookie is long. It began in 1917 with home-baked cookies made by scouting girls with the help of their mothers as baking advisors. These early baking endeavors began about five years after Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouts in the U.S., as an effort to raise money to finance troop activities.
The simple sugar cookie was the first product. Today, there are 13 kinds, from the classic Trefoils (shortbread) and Thin Mints (mint chocolate dipped), to newer Adventurefuls (brownie cookie with caramel crème and sea salt) and Raspberry Rally (crispy raspberry flavor dipped in chocolate).
Alexis Velazquez, a ninth grader in Troop 212, posted about the cookies and the sale: “Being my own cookie boss with special needs for the past seven years has taught me to have more confidence in myself,” she wrote. “As well as learning to work as a team and getting to eat some yummy cookies.”
This year, the website for the cookie sale reminds customers of the benefits to the girls from their selling efforts: “When you make a Girl Scout Cookie purchase, you’re helping the next generation of girl entrepreneurs get an important taste of what it takes to be successful – teamwork, planning and a positive outlook.”
The success of the cookie campaign each year is aided by a Family Guide, published by the Girl Scouts – Cactus Pine Council, which serves more than 90 communities in Central and Northern Arizona.
“It helps the families help their Girl Scouts,” said Lober. “There are also lots of resources on their website to help the girls with skills and also help them earn a Family Cookie Entrepreneur pin and badges.”
The troop earns $0.95 per box sold, which the girls decide how to spend. “The remaining proceeds from the cookie sale stay with our Arizona Cactus Pine Council to support our camps, girl programs and activities, and for volunteer support and training. The cookie sale is not a competition between girls or troops. It is an opportunity for the girls to learn how to be businesswomen and support the programs they love.”
“Troop 212 gives back to the community each year. “We have adopted a trail, and we take advantage of many different volunteer opportunities. We always help out at Riordan Mansion events. Our favorite is the Tea on the Veranda.”
The role of volunteers has always been vital to the success of scouting. Coconino County Board of Supervisors Chair Patrice Horstman has acted as an informal volunteer “whenever the Arizona Cactus Pine Girl Scouts have reached out to me,” and was honored by the group as a “Woman of Distinction” in 2018.
With Liz Archuleta and Kerry Blume, she helped establish Troop Pearl, an adult Girl Scout Troop dedicated to assisting the Girl Scouts. “I was a Girl Scout in my youth and have tried to live the Girl Scout creed of ‘building a better world,’” Horstman said.
She has also been assisting girls in developing business skills for successful cookie drives, the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world, she noted.
“The Girl Scouts are dedicated to building courage, confidence and character in girls,” she said. “The cookie drives helps to further this mission. Money earned can allow the girls to embark on wonderful adventures. These cookie drives teach the girls important financial, organizational and marketing skills.”
Horstman has assisted some scouts with perfecting their techniques and in developing a “sales pitch” for in-person sales. “Since we also live in a virtual sales world, I have reviewed some Girl Scout cookie sales videos,” she said. “Each girl has their own approach that reflects their personality. Cookie sales give the girls real life leadership experiences and provides an opportunity to contribute to the financial benefit of their troop, so that together the girls can engage in projects, travel or community programs.”
Troop 212 meets once a month for planning that includes deciding how to spend the money they earn.
For Troop 212, goals include horseback riding and travel. “We have been planning for their Costa Rica trip for five years. They set aside some of their cookie money each year, and we are going this summer. As for giving back to the community, we donate cookies to first responders. Last summer, we were able to thank the firefighters on the Tunnel Fire with several cases of cookies,” said Lober.
Girl Scout cookie season in Arizona usually runs for six weeks. The Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, which serves Phoenix as well as greater Central and Northern Arizona, began the cookie drive officially on Jan. 16, with cookie delivery closing on March 5.
The link to find cookie booths is https://www.girlscouts.org/en/cookies/how-to-buy-cookies.html. QCBN
By Betsey Bruner, QCBN
Courtesy Photo: Madi Van Hemert, left, a 12th grader in Girl Scout Troop 212, is pictured with her sister, Peyton, selling Girl Scout cookies during the annual drive last year in front of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Flagstaff.