Cookie season is here, and you’re feeling proud of your Girl Scout troop for rocking their goal setting conversation and committing to a cookie goal that’ll power their weekend camping trip this summer. But before your girls break out their order forms, there's another group you need to rally: your troop’s parents and caregivers.
That doesn’t sound difficult—after all, most troop families want to be supportive—but what happens when you have parents who see the cookie program as just another task on their lengthy to-do list rather than an entrepreneurial experience for their cookie boss?
“I started a new Daisy troop this year and the first thing my new co-leader asked me was ‘do we really need to sell cookies?’” explains Kat Schuknecht, a troop leader at the Girl Scouts Wisconsin-Badgerland council. “I don't think people outside Girl Scouts fully understand why we sell and all of the ways the girls benefit from the cookie program.
The cookie program is a team effort, and adult support plays a major part. If you’re looking for ways to motivate any apprehensive parents in your troop, our Volunteer Experts have the strategies you need to outline the importance of the experience.
Hold a cookie-specific meeting for parents and caregivers.
Even if you discussed the cookie program at your first parent meeting, make time to reconnect with troop adults.
“We hold a parent cookie meeting just before our initial orders are placed,” explains Kathy Wise, a troop leader with Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska. “We cover the family guide and any changes from the previous year and collect the prize selection sheets. Last year our fourth-grade Juniors discussed financial literacy and business skills and came up with a list of jobs such as marketing, sales, inventory control, and cashier. [With the parents] we discussed how the cookie program helps build skills then shared the list of jobs the girls came up with. Parents were more than happy to help their girls build these skills.”
“I try to have a 15-minute parent meeting to go through the basics, like a refresher course,” agrees Maranda Oliver of Girl Scouts Wisconsin-Badgerland. “I outline my expectations and the support I’m able to give. I make it clear that parents need to communicate with me: for instance, if something isn’t going right, [they need to] bring it to my attention right away or else the issue becomes much harder to correct, as with any business.”
Your troop parents will likely have more questions about what’s expected of them and their girls, so be sure to review the most frequently asked questions about the cookie program before this meeting. You can also let parents know at the meeting that you’re looking for some extra support.
Share your troop’s goal and how they’ll get there.
Open the conversation by outlining the goal or experience the girls are working toward, and talk about the girls’ decision-making process and that you’re proud of their ability to work as a team. “When people ask why they’re selling cookies, they can say ‘we’re building a butterfly garden’ or ‘we have a camping trip we’re hoping to take,’” says Maranda. “Families are much more supportive if they know where the cookie proceeds go; the same goes for customers and other members of your community!"
Once you’ve shared your troop’s vision, let the adults know what the goal means for their girl. “In our first year I had some very ambitious girls, but parents who were less than thrilled,” continues Maranda. “I wasn’t going to force them to do more than they were willing. I suggested a starting amount of 60 boxes, and many parents took the recommended amount. We had the option to return completely sealed cases if we found that we just couldn’t sell; I think that also helped ease parents’ minds. Turned out we never returned any cookies and in fact needed more! I found that open lines of communication were key.”
Outline the immediate and long-term benefits of the cookie program.
“I explain that the money from the cookie program funds the rest of the year's badges, programs, and events,” says Kat. "I also tell [the families] that the cookie program is not about the cookies or the money. Parents love to hear how the sale works—the girls set their own goals! We purposely set low and high goals so the girls can reach some but work hard for others. Once parents hear how hands-on the sale is for their daughters and how they’ll learn how to make change and speak to customers and work as a team, they're much more willing to participate in the program.”
Have a “but wait, there’s more!” moment with the adults, and let them know they’ll see the cookie program’s impact long before their budding entrepreneur opens her first business or goes for her MBA. She’ll learn to manage money and allocate her after-school job savings wisely, for instance, and hone the relationship-building skills she needs to lead her classmates in a group project.
The skills girls learn from the cookie program set them up for success in school, extracurriculars, and beyond; helping parents and caregivers understand the big picture goes a long way in building the support you need.
Don't go it alone! Here are 4 people to put on your Cookie Squad this year.