Monday, March 16, 2020

Girl Scout Cookie Season 2020: The Year of the Pandemic

Every Girl Scout cookie season, there's always (at least) One Big Kerfuffle that becomes the way that I remember that cookie season.

There was The Year Council Ran out of Thin Mints.
There was The Year Wal-mart Didn't Let Us Have Cookie Booths until the End of the Season.
There was The Year I Got the Flu.
There was The Year Every Kid Decided They Wanted to Sell 1,000 Boxes.
There was The Year It Snowed and they Postponed Cookie Delivery.

This year has been The Year of the Pandemic.

Fortunately, my own Girl Scout troop holds the standard that we finish meeting Scout and troop sales goals the weekend BEFORE the last weekend of the season, AT THE LATEST. And even then, I prefer that the kids meet their own sales goals the weekend before that. Even with the big goals that many of my Scouts have, the weekly benchmarks are still quite do-able that way, and it leaves room at the end of the season for emergencies.

Such as, say, a global pandemic...

It's just happenstance that the pandemic hit after my Girl Scout troop finished their sales; honestly, the country probably should have been practicing social distancing a LOT sooner than it did. But for those who just happened to not have finished their cookie sales before last weekend... man, it was a truly sucky situation. It's easy to say that everyone should stay home, but if you have $2,500 worth of Girl Scout cookies in your house, and your council is sticking to the line that you have to pay for them, then what on earth are you going to do? Maybe you can afford to pay $2,500 out of your own pocket, or out of the children's troop bank account, but maybe you can't.

I mean, check it out. This is what my front hallway looked like during cookie season:

Can you imagine if the kids suddenly had nowhere to sell those cookies, or if we still had even half that amount after it became unsafe to be out and about selling them to thousands of people?

So yeah, there were Girl Scout troops out trying to sell Girl Scout cookies last weekend, even after my own family was low-key quarantining ourselves. And then on-the-ground reports started coming in. A troop at one big grocery chain got sent home by management, which then put out a release that they were no longer hosting cookie booths that season.  The same exact thing happened at another large chain store. Fortunately, after stores started cancelling booths, council sent out an announcement that they were ending the cookie season early and they'd figure out a way for troops to not have to take on the burden of unsold boxes of cookies. Which I imagine is SUCH a relief, except troops still don't know exactly how council is going to accomplish that, and it's unclear if they'll get to retain the profit from those boxes that they were relying on and the sales numbers that the kids needed to meet their goals.

It has been TOUGH, you guys! Just one more tough little thing in the sea of tough little things that we've had to struggle with so far, but it adds to our stress levels, you know?

Anyway, enough of that negativity--on to the celebrations!

Check out the Girl Scout cookie sales tote that Will designed and I sewed:

 It's reversible, so you don't have to advertise Girl Scout cookies all year, and the top zips shut, so you can keep your stuff secure, and LOOK HOW MANY GIRL SCOUT COOKIES IT HOLDS:

Here's how I made the tote bag, and here's how I added the zippered top. I've got three more of these in progress, two of which Will and I are making low-key Halloween-themed for our anticipated adventure trick-or-treating in Disney World this year fingers crossed knock on wood.

Next celebration: check out how many boxes of Girl Scout cookies this kid sold this year!

I promise that we do not permit the animals to be all over the cookies like this normally, but they are codependently attached to their girls, and so where the kids pose, so do they:

 Syd set her goal at 600 boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year; this is the first time in three years that she's chosen to sell fewer than 1,000 boxes, and she had some anxiety about lowering her goal. That means that sticking to that lower goal was really good practice in self-management; just as it's important to set yourself big challenges, it's also important to not make every single thing in your life a big challenge.

Just between us, though: the real reason Syd didn't sell 1,000 boxes this year is that they dropped the ipod touch from the 1,000-box prizes, and there weren't any other 1,000-box prizes that she super wanted. Tangible rewards really do motivate, IF they're something that the people you want to motivate really want. Pick the wrong tangible reward to offer, and you'll lose that motivation.

This kid did sell 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies again this year, but again, it wasn't because of the tangible reward. SHE had her heart set on a kayak, which they also dropped from the 1,000-box prizes! Instead, check out what Will was most excited about:

That is 189 boxes of cookies donated to the Backpack Buddies program in a local school system. At Girl Scout cookie booths, the kids would ask shoppers if they'd like to buy a box of cookies for a Backpack Buddy kid, or donate their change towards the purchase of a box. Thanks to the generous people in our community, every single Backpack Buddy kid received their very own box of Girl Scout cookies before they left for Spring Break!

Good thing, too, because children vulnerable to food insecurity are even more vulnerable when schools, a primary resource for meals, are shut down due to the pandemic. 

Will has really grown in her interest in and desire for service towards those vulnerable to food insecurity. Shall I pat myself on the back and assume that it's all those years I dragged the kids to volunteer with me at the local food bank? Or should I instead, and more accurately, attribute it to our Girl Scout troop's monthly meet-up to pack the weekend bags for our local school system's Backpack Buddies program. Check out how much fun she's having being of service with her friends!

She's already expressed interest in perhaps using food insecurity as the problem that guides her Girl Scout Gold Award, and I would be thrilled if she did. And it's a problem that she'd perhaps never have thought about enough to get interested in without this specific activity of selling Girl Scout cookies, and the fun motivation of trying to get enough boxes donated, and the companionable work of volunteering with her Girl Scout sisters. 

It's an honor to help these kids become the compassionate, powerful, capable people they're meant to be.

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