Media Monday: These aren’t my Girl Scouts

I hadn’t planned to write a Media Monday post today, but as this article flashed along a news feed I was reading, I thought I might share.

(Photo: Girl Scouts of the USA)
(Photo: Girl Scouts of the USA)

I was a Girl Scout. Actually I never made it out of Brownies and I suspect that had something to do with my anti-social, secretive alcoholic mother finding fault with my involvement in a ‘outside group’ which might want to engage with our family in some perfectly normal way, like have a meeting or two at our house, or participate like the other mothers by sending treats. All perfectly okay activities not to be tolerated or allowed in our world.

I became a Girl Scout leader when daughter Cara was young and led her troop through 6th grade. We even had meetings at our house. I can hear my moms derision at that scandalous action. I think Cara had fun, at times. At other times I think she was over the whole idea and mostly hung around for me. C-thanks for that.

I was a cookie mom. I was also a council cookie coordinator for a portion of the local troops. The first job meant that I had to manage girls, money, and boxes of cookies. The second job meant that I had to manage cookie inventory-cases and cases of cookie inventory. My garage was the pick-up point for 10-15 troops. I was the supply chain last stop before cookies fell into the hands of each girl to be sold to those needing a Thin Mint fix or wanting to stock their freezers with Peanut Butter Patties.

After a few years of that experience I was given some award for my organizational abilities stacking cookie cases and keeping my inventory well cataloged. In other words, I was a damn fine cookie warehouse lead who was available for regular cookie pick-up as well as 24 hour emergency restocking. I ran a tight ship and no one left my garage without having their order checked and re-checked. My name was on the line and I worked that cold, slightly greasy space like a drill sergeant.

I have never listed logistics experience on any resume, but I feel as if I should have. I wonder if UPS is hiring…

Back to focus…

My Girl Scout days ended after daughter Alison decided that moving from Daisy Girl Scouts into Brownies was not a fun idea. There would be no return to crafts, badge activities, ceremonies, pledges, Juliette Gordon Low festivities, box oven creation, fire pits and camp-outs.

It doesn’t surprise me that, in 2014, the Girl Scouts and their cookie sales have arrived full force into the digital world. For those of us who are used to the old-fashioned in your face face-to-face interaction with adorable girls peddling their wares, knocking on our doors, and accosting warmly greeting strangers in front of the local Walmart and Home Depot this noted article is reassuring in its determination that those services will continue.

I know that the cost of those boxes of cookies has increased since my time in the organization. I also know that it never seemed quite fair, with all the time and effort that my girls, their parents, and my other leaders put into these sales, that we didn’t see a great deal of the profit. We saw some, as the goal of the program states,

“All the net revenue from cookie sales stay with the Scout council that sponsors the sale. Girls decide how to spend their troop cookie money and reinvest it in their communities.”

but each troop receives a minimal amount when you look at what the box costs. I suppose this is a life lesson in capitalism, not that any 7-year-old Brownie really cares. She just wants to go camping.

So, I say YAY for the scouts embracing technology if they have the opportunity to learn more/differently about business and ownership and responsibility and working for large corporations that take and leave you little in return.

And…

Seeing this article, and I still think that I might believe in this organization as a whole even with my cynicism, has me pondering the entire concept of Girl Scouting in general. I don’t want to turn this into a history of scouting, either boy or girl scouting, the original intent of the program, the hidden intents of these sorts of programs, are these programs beneficial, or even viable in 2014…

No, I choose not to go in any of those directions, but I want to make this a minor feminist post as well, because why not. I do wonder however, after not giving this organization a second thought in over 15 years, if my involvement was promoting concepts that align with my own fundamental beliefs or not. While this feminist was drawing young girls into a program outwardly designed to teach diverse skills, designed to encourage independence and autonomy and agency, designed to break down barriers to activities labeled as ‘boy only’ participation, was there perhaps a hidden agenda?

I tend to see conspiracy everywhere lately. How much was the original intent of Juliette Gordon Low changed if at all. Did she care, or was she working as best she could in a socially constricted environment.  I mean she created this organization with the help of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, at a time when women were of the home, not encouraged to be in the public eye. Juliette was born to wealth as a good southern girl, and schooled in domesticity in both boarding school and French finishing school. We don’t need a map and spotlights to show what influence surrounded Low as she grew.

Likewise she is portrayed as a female who, at the time, was probably rather scandalous, outspoken, and might we say even disobedient. I mean, her marriage fell apart, most likely due to outlandish notions regarding women. History hints at feminist ideology, and as I don’t intend to accumulate research on the question of was she standing up in the fight or not, I will be left to wonder.

If you know a Girl Scout, consider buying a box of cookies. She will earn much less than $1 of the sale for her own troop, but you will put a smile on her face. You might also pass on to her, quietly of course, the notion that she look into how it is that she is doing all the work and receiving so little in return. Plant the seed early. Create questions in her young mind. She just might be the future of feminism.

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