Adapted from a post by Leah Takahashi on Girl Scouts of Northern California’s blog, September 14, 2017
During my 13 years as a Girl Scout, I sold nuts, candy, and magazines every year—unfortunately, no scented candles, mugs, or seed pots since this was before the online sales program was an option. In addition to preparing me and my Girl Scout sisters for cookie season, participating in the fall product program has many benefits, and I want to share them with you—that way your troop can enjoy an awesome fall product program, too!
Why You Should Participate
So, why should you participate in the fall product program? For starters, it’s one of the best ways for girls to start earning troop funds without having to wait until late spring after cookie season to start having fun (and troop leaders don’t need to spend any of their own money to fund the troop). The costs of extracurricular activities can add up pretty quickly, and for most troops, participating in the fall product program and the Girl Scout Cookie Program covers the year’s various expenses, like annual membership dues, uniforms, troop shirts, activity registration fees, and troop meeting supplies.
In addition to providing startup funds, the fall product program provides girls with valuable skills, including customer service, organizing, creative problem solving, money handling, marketing savvy, and goal setting. Whether she’s taking online orders, going door to door, or working a booth sale with her Girl Scout sisters, the fall product program gives girls the chance to put their skills into action, show off their Girl Scout spirit, and let their confidence soar as they interact with customers.
With all that in mind, here are five key ways to help your girls participate in a successful fall product program:
- Set a troop goal
Do your girls want to complete some new badges this winter, or maybe save up for a big event six months from now? Whatever their hearts desire, make sure they set a troop goal. By working as a team, even new members can feel a part of something bigger as they join with their new friends to achieve a common goal. And troop leaders can help guide their girls’ dreams, but remember, activities should always be girl-led. Keep your parents and girls updated on your troop’s sales and remind girls to set individual goals—that way their excitement lasts all season long.
- Prepare for the season
You know the good ‘ol Girl Scout motto—always be prepared! From handling troop leader logistics (e.g., finding a troop fall product manager, setting up your troop’s bank account) to making sure girls are ready (e.g., they’ve got their sales pitch down), be sure you and your troop are prepared for the fall product program.
- Get families involved
If the parents of your girls know the specific goal that their daughters have set (i.e., how much they need to sell in order earn their way to the awesome activities they have planned), they can better do their part to support and encourage girls. Plan a parent meeting before the season begins, with both parents and girls in attendance, to ensure that all parents know key dates and goals/expectations for the program. Bonus points if you let your girls do the talking!
Oh, and Girl Scout product programs are the perfect time to get parents more actively involved with the troop, because it gives them a ticket to spending more one-on-one time with their girls.
- Make sure all volunteers receive proper training
Whether you’re a troop leader, service unit fall product manager, or parent helper, make sure you check out your council’s fall product trainings!
Pro tip: Need more support? Try reaching out to another adult volunteer who previously headed up the program for their troop—they can be a great resource for questions and best practices!
- Mix up your girls’ booth partners
If you have several BFF/super-buddy-buddy duos in your troop, try intentionally mixing up your booth sale pairs to give your girls the chance to develop stronger friendships with everyone in the troop. And trust the buddy system, because after your girls manage a booth together for a few hours, they’ll likely feel closer than ever as they bond over their shared goal.
For example, you might try pairing up one of your shy or newer girls with one of your more outgoing, veteran Girl Scouts for booth sales. This is a great way to ease new girls into your troop—giving them one-on-one time with their troop sisters, which may not happen as much as you like at regular troop meetings.
Like the cookie program, the fall product program is something many girls participate in every year. And with adequate prep time, you and your girls can have your best fall product season yet! So whether they decide to participate in in-person sales, online sales, or both, make sure your girls take the time to set a goal and reap the benefits of the fall product program. Good luck and happy selling!