A Different Side of Girl Scouting

“Setting that example of volunteering, working together to make cookie season an even bigger success, is so important.”

We all know Girl Scout Cookies are not only delicious but life-changing: The Girl Scout Cookie Program, the world’s largest girl-run business, instills critical values in these young go-getters. With every sale, Girl Scouts learn the fundamentals of running an enterprise and the skills needed to be successful.

But behind every Girl Scout troop is an army of volunteers, including the parents and troop leaders on the front lines at booth sales: It’s a vast and coordinated effort to make sure our Girl Scouts get the most meaningful experience.

20170202_133613
Volunteers at our Marina del Rey cupboard.

One group that’s instrumental to the success of cookie season is our team of cookie cupboard volunteers. Cookie cupboards, in case you aren’t familiar, are where troops go to pick up and exchange orders of cookies. To make sure the process goes smoothly, GSGLA relies on our amazingly dedicated volunteers who give their time (and sweat!) to running our cookie cupboards—many of whom also have other roles at the troop and service unit/neighborhood levels. (Want to sign up to volunteer at our cookie cupboards? Click here!)

We spoke with three superstar volunteers who return each year to our cookie cupboards: Astrid Fribourg-Martinez (referred to as AF below), Chris Steptoe (CS), and Rosalie Brown (RB). Here’s what they had to say about their experience—and why you should consider volunteering too:


Q: Why do you volunteer each year at our cookie cupboards?
CS: I love being around the excitement of cookie season! Being able to help drives me to return. I’m busy like other parents and like that I can put in a couple hours of work at a time.
AF: I love returning to the Marina Del Rey cupboard because the people we greet and help stock their orders are so friendly. They are so appreciative of our service. This is my fourth year volunteering at the cupboard and it’s nice to see returning volunteers, some of whom I only see at this event. That makes it feel like a mingling party!
RB: It is a lot of fun. I have worked with these ladies for many years. Also, you see the pride in the troop leaders or helpers who pick up cookies. You get to meet a lot of people.

20170202_120247_1486084596468_resized
Volunteers at our Montclair cupboard.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories from volunteering at our cupboards?
RB: My favorite memories are watching the little Girl Scouts trying to pick up the boxes that are almost as big as they are. Standing inside that cold trailer until troops come to pick up cookies. Just talking and getting to know each other.
CS: Meeting new people, especially leaders whose troops and/or daughters are headed to college. Their experiences and stories are a tremendous help.
AF: I have met many troop leaders who swap stories and adventure experiences, which couldn’t make this a more enjoyable environment to work in.  

Q: If you are involved in other Girl Scout activities, what do you do?
AF: I have been with my troop for five and a half years. Right from the start, I helped take charge of certain badges or outings. Then once I experienced the system of Girl Scouts, I volunteered to lead a level (we are a multi-level troop).
RB: I am the service unit fall product chair for Compton/Lynwood.
CS: I’m a parent volunteer. My daughter’s troop is located in the South Bay. I help coordinate the events for our troop.

Q: Why should others volunteer for cookie cupboards? For Girl Scouts in general? 
RB: At the cupboards, you get to see a different side of Girl Scouting and make new friends. You should volunteer for Girl Scouts, because there are so many girls who need to interact with other girls, and Girl Scouts helps them find out what they want to be in life. It teaches them so much about themselves. The joy you see in later years of what these girls have become in our society makes you so proud.
CS:  Grooming the girls for leadership is a big deal. Setting that example of volunteering, working together to make cookie season an even bigger success, is so important. The girls will follow. It’s positive. It displays helpfulness. Why not help an organization where you’re directly involved? 
AF: I believe everyone should give some of their time volunteering for this organization, because you are helping shape the future leaders of our country’s communities.

20170202_113304
Volunteers at our Marina del Rey cupboard.

Huge thanks to Astrid, Chris, and Rosalie for answering our questions—and for contributing their time and talents to our Movement!

Want to support an increasingly important cause while exercising, making friends, and having fun? Sign up to volunteer at one of our cookie cupboards! (Must be 18+ years of age; Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts are allowed if accompanied by an adult.) Our cookie cupboards are open Feb. 1–March 11, 2018, with locations in Arcadia, Covina, Downey, Long Beach, Marina del Rey, Upland, Torrance, Woodland Hills, Glendale, and Santa Clarita.

Want to learn about other ways to volunteer with Girl Scouts? Click here.

Give the Gift of Caring

“It’s incredible to make an impact on someone’s life, no matter how small or how big.”

When we talk about the Girl Scout Cookie Program, we often mention the 5 Skills gained by girls: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. But did you know the cookie program also teaches girls a sixth skill—philanthropy?

Through the Gift of Caring program, Girl Scouts offer customers the opportunity to donate boxes of cookies to military troops overseas and local nonprofit partners. Girls learn about philanthropy, while customers contribute to a very worthy cause (without consuming calories!).

This year, in honor of the 100th year of Girl Scouts selling cookies, we’re aiming to donate 100,000 boxes to Gift of Caring, council-wide. We spoke with 2016’s top Gift of Caring seller, Ambassador Girl Scout Destiny B., to learn more about the program that’s close to her heart.


image3
Destiny is GSGLA’s top Gift of Caring seller.

You sold an impressive amount of boxes last season (1,020) – and they were all for Gift of Caring (GOC)! Why did you decide to do just GOC?
To me, it is the most important part of Girl Scout Cookie selling. It’s incredible to make an impact on someone’s life, no matter how small or how big. Over my entire cookie career, I have sold approximately 18,000 cookies—11,000 for GOC. I have family in the military, so it’s a cause close to my heart.

Why is GOC so important?
Servicemen and women overseas don’t have the opportunity to see or have anything that reminds them of home. Sometimes, they even give the cookies to the innocent children in the country in which they are stationed. GOC can help so many people in so many ways.

What do you love about selling Girl Scout Cookies?
I am able to increase my confidence in talking to new people, and the people I already know. I have sold cookies for 11 years, and each year I learn something new. Selling cookies offers so many opportunities for Girl Scouts to learn about business, social interactions, and confidence.

What’s your favorite memory related to Gift of Caring?
Once, a soldier flew a flag over Iraq in my name. I later received the same flag in the mail. It was one of the most incredible things that anyone had ever done for me. It inspired me to continue with GOC, so that I could make a difference in the lives of other soldiers.

What do you want to do as a career?
Because of my drive to help others, I want to go into the medical field. I volunteer at my local hospital, and am becoming even more passionate about the field. I love having the opportunity to make an impact on someone’s life.

Why do you think girls should participate in the cookie program?
So they can begin to learn skills to help them in the future. By selling cookies, I have grown up to be a confident, smart, and successful young woman, which is what the cookie program is all about. The cookie program empowers young girls to be the best they can be, and even shows them how to set goals and achieve them. By selling cookies, I have definitely learned how to interact with people and feel comfortable while I am doing it.

goc
GSGLA’s new GOC patch for the 2017 season.

What advice do you have for other girls in reaching high GOC goals?
Like any other way of selling cookies, you must be know your cause. When someone is purchasing something from you, they want to make sure that you know what you’re selling. Sometimes people are cautious about giving money to organizations that they don’t know much about. If you can be confident and passionate about GOC, you can definitely reach your goal.


We’re so proud of Destiny’s accomplishments. You, too, can be a Gift of Caring superstar. Remember to offer customers the ninth “cookie” variety—Gift of Caring—and let’s hit that 100,000 goal together!

Celebrating Our History

Girl Scouts has a long and storied tradition of bringing girls together for fun, challenging experiences and spurring lifelong friendships. For more than 59 million women in America today, Girl Scouts is a cornerstone of their childhood (and adolescent) experience. Two GSGLA Cadette Girl Scouts are honoring Girl Scouts’ beloved place in our collective memory—for their Silver Award project, Olivia K. and Ciara D. of Troop 925 co-curated a Girl Scout history exhibit at the Santa Monica History Museum. We spoke with the girls to learn more about the exhibit which opens Tuesday, Jan. 24.


How did you get the idea for your exhibit, “The Journey of Girl Scouts: Empowering Young Women”?
The idea to make a Girl Scout exhibit was based off Ciara doing community service at the museum. After discussing what her Silver Award project should be with her troop leader, Gloria Halfacre, she decided it would be a great idea to let people know how important Girl Scouts is. She brought this idea to Olivia, a fellow Girl Scout. Together, we started planning out our Silver Award—which ended up becoming the Girl Scout history exhibit.

museum-4
Ciara and Olivia helped curate a Girl Scout history exhibit for their Silver Award project.

What were the most challenging parts of your project?
Gathering items and contacting people. To collect the items, we had to find out who had them and would be willing to donate them. We had to ask around for a while until we found people who—in addition to the GSGLA Heritage Committee—were willing to donate. Another challenge we faced was arranging time to pick up the items. We had to take time off of school and drive to multiple places.

What was the most interesting thing (or things) you learned over the course of your project?
We learned more about the rich history of Girl Scouts empowering young women. Girl Scouts isn’t just about selling cookies but about learning skills that you can use in the real world and we specifically learn about having confidence and believing in ourselves which we really think empowers women.

What do you hope your exhibit teaches people?
We hope that this exhibit shows people how far Girl Scouting has come, and that it really has a positive impact on girls’ lives.

How has Girl Scouts empowered you?
Girl Scout has shown us that if you really put your mind to a goal, you will be able to achieve it no matter what.


Thank you and congratulations, Olivia and Ciara!

Show your support for our Girl Scouts and visit “The Journey of Girl Scouts: Empowering Young Women” exhibit, on display from Tuesday, Jan. 24 through Wednesday, March 29 at the Santa Monica History Museum (1350 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401). Visit the museum’s website for details on hours and tickets.

 

Why We March – A Message from Our CEO

Dear Girl Scouts, Friends, and Supporters –

Girl Scouts know that leadership isn’t defined just by who you are or what you want to be. It’s defined by what you do.

It’s about bringing hope for your own future and the future of others—and throughout our 105-year history as an organization, we have brought hope by being champions of diversity and inclusion. We have inspired millions of girls and women to harness their power, have courageous conversations, find their own voice, and take action. We have encouraged girls to make choices that are guided by their values.

Our storied history was launched on the ideals of courage, confidence, and character, and sparked a worldwide movement for girls to embrace, together, their individuality and strength. We do not condone sexism, racism, bullying, or any behaviors contradictory to the Girl Scout Law. We are an organization that stands for honesty, fairness, choice, and respect. These are values that our volunteers and staff continually teach, model, and reinforce.

Girl Scouts remains nonpartisan and objective—letting the girls lead. Our role is to encourage girls to empower themselves and use their voices. We provide them the tools and experiences to think, research, understand, and take action. Our girls are feeding the hungry, protecting the environment, influencing legislation, and motivating the marginalized.

And, our girls are marching. Some in the Women’s Marches around the country and some in the inaugural parade.

Girl Scouts has an unprecedented history of inclusion, and, as the premier organization for girls, we have been encouraging girls to stand up for what they believe in for over a century. It is that foundation that leads us to this precarious position.

I have had enlightening conversations this week with our membership around individual Girl Scouts and troops making choices and standing up to either participate in the Women’s Marches here or in Washington on Saturday, or, as some have prepared since September to do, march in the U.S. Presidential Inauguration Parade tomorrow.

To quote one eloquent volunteer whom I heard from today:

“In reciting the Girl Scout Law, the girls pledge to be honest and fair, courageous and strong, responsible for what they say and do, respect themselves and others, respect authority, and make the world a better place. These values, built into Girl Scouting, are a fundamental part of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. It should be our objective to give them the forum and opportunities to do so—to be able to debate and consider all sides of an issue, and then to develop their own voice to take action. May we all find ways to support our girls and protect their rights as this country moves ahead… let us try to reflect back on the core values this organization embraces and operate in the best interests of our girls always.”

With a 100-plus year history of nonpartisan civic engagement, the choice to march or not march remains an individual decision each girl will make for herself, with guidance from her family. We invite you to review our council’s official statement and FAQs regarding participation in these events, and/or for a national perspective, please read National Interim CEO’s Time.com op-ed piece.

I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me and our staff to share your heartfelt and passionate views on this subject. Your love and respect of our organization is apparent and deeply appreciated. I remain optimistic that you are proud of our history of emboldening girls to use their voice, and that you will encourage girls to support causes they find worthy and take a stand for what they believe in.

As always, Girl Scouts will continue to work to inspire the best in our girls, so that we can witness the best in us all. Let’s let girls—every girl—lead the way.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

luttgens_sig_t

Lise L. Luttgens

100 Dynamic (and Delicious) Years

It’s been a delicious century: 2017 marks 100 years since Girl Scouts first began selling cookies. That initial cookie sale would give rise to the world’s premier business and leadership development program for girls—one which empowers Girl Scouts to pursue their dreams, learn to lead, and change the world!

Throughout cookie season (which runs Jan. 29–March 12), we’ll be highlighting the many ways the cookie program not only touches the lives of our girls, but also benefits our communities. Plus, we’ll be sharing insights from our very own Girl Scouts about the cookie program, starting with Cadette Girl Scout and Girl Advisory Bureau member Elizabeth L. of Troop 7352. As a Cookie Captain, Elizabeth has the following tips to help other girls achieve their cookie goals.


elizabeth-3
Elizabeth selling cookies as a Brownie.

I am so excited to sell Girl Scout Cookies during the 100th anniversary celebration of cookie sales! I am currently in the seventh grade and started selling cookies when I was a Daisy. I have learned a lot of tips and tricks over the last few years from my mom, my troop, the internet, and my own personal experience. An easy acronym I created below can help you during this cookie season.

GO START NOW!

Goals: Meet with your leader and your troop to set up goals.
One reason people don’t buy Girl Scout cookies? They were never asked!

Start with last year’s list! Contact your old customers and remind them cookie season is here.
Taste the cookies to allow you to describe them to customers.
Always wear a SMILE and look your best in your vest! You represent Girl Scouts!
Record your cookie season plans, goals, and experiences in a journal and use them to prepare for next year’s cookie season.
Tell everyone! Use the Cookie Club, Facebook, Instagram, email, text messages, etc. (of course with your parent’s permission).

elizabeth-4


N
otice which cookies are selling and encourage customers to buy packages of other varieties. [Editor’s note: Don’t forget to mention the brand-new, non-GMO Girl Scout S’mores cookie!) Girl Scout Cookies freeze up to six months!
Offer to explain to customers how the Girl Scout Cookie Program funds troop activities throughout the year and teaches girls five critical skills.
When customers say “no thank you” to cookies, tell them about the Gift of Caring program. Customers can donate boxes to Gift of Caring, which go to service members overseas and other local nonprofits. [Editor’s note: In honor of Girl Scouts selling cookies for 100 years, our council-wide Gift of Caring goal is to donate 100,000 boxes this year!)


Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing these useful ideas! Don’t forget, cookie season starts Jan. 29—get ready for Go Day by visiting Cookie Central, where you’ll find key resources and news.

Global Citizens

We all know Girl Scouts make the world a better place—and what better way to learn about the world than by exploring it? Girl Scout Destinations provides girls ages 11 and older opportunities to travel to different countries and states, and engage in awe-inspiring activities: from scuba diving in Panama to exploring ancient sites in India to horseback riding in Colorado. These types of activities not only help girls become better global citizens, they push Girl Scouts out of their comfort zones and prepare them for challenges in their own lives.

It was just this sort of experience that prompted Gold Award Girl Scout Jaclyn B. of Troop 7392 to apply for the Destinations program. (You can learn more about the application process at the end of this post—the summer 2017 deadline is Jan. 31.) She embarked on a trip with fellow Girl Scouts to Italy, and told us all about her experience.


Describe your trip to Italy in a nutshell.
Going on this destination to Italy has been one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I saw amazing architecture, ate amazing food, and met new friends. The people I went with made it more than just another trip. We bonded and that’s the best thing you can get from a group of 16 girls. I still keep in touch with a couple of them.

img_3232

How did you select your Destination?
I chose the EF Tours Italy trip because I have always wanted to go to Italy. When I read the description of what we would be doing, I knew it would be the right choice for me.

Before the trip, how did you feel about the trip? Were you scared? Excited?
When I got accepted to go on this trip I was excited, but as the trip got closer I found myself getting more nervous. For a person who is afraid of flying, I had to take a six-hour flight to Boston to meet up with everyone, then another seven-hour flight to Amsterdam, then a 1.5-hour flight to Italy. It was definitely worth it, though. One thing that really helped was getting to know everyone with group phone calls that Timalee (our chaperone) organized for us. About a week before the trip, I also found out there was another participant who lived in my area. We got in contact and we met up for lunch—realizing that I’d already know someone really calmed my nerves.

What was the most exciting part of your trip?
The whole trip was amazing. The best part of it was probably the cooking class that we had on our second to last day in Rome. It was not only fun, but we also competed against each other.

img_2510

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to girls thinking of applying?
When you get to the essay part, don’t be afraid to show yourself. It really helped me with my college essays because you need to show that you are not afraid to go on this trip, and you are not afraid to try new things. In the words of my English teacher: “You are bragging about yourself; don’t downplay it.”

What impact did the trip have on you?
This trip to Italy was amazing and I know I will never forget it. I can admit I was nervous at first going to an international country with people I didn’t know. But the people were amazing and the trip is something I would do all over again.


We’re so thankful to Jaclyn for sharing her Italy experience with us. If you’re ready to pack your bags for your own life-changing experience, apply for Round 2 of the Destinations program. Remember, GSGLA’s deadline is Jan. 31 for summer 2017 trips.