COLUMBIA — Saturday afternoon, 7-year-old Sarah Rogers and her mother, Barbara, had an informal math lesson: counting and sorting Girl Scout Cookies.
They carefully added up green boxes of Thin Mints, yellow boxes of Lemonades and a colorful variety of other cookie boxes. Some orders only had one or two boxes of cookies; one had 25.
If you missed the initial cookie sales period, there are still a few ways to order cookies.
- Contact a Girl Scout. Each troop has a "cookie mom" who is in charge of cookie sales and can call the “Cookie Cupboard” to get extra orders. The Cookie Cupboard is actually a Girl Scout parent who volunteers to keep extra cookies in her home to fill new orders.
- Find a booth sale. Some troops are holding booth sales, where they set up tables and sell cookies in front of stores, banks, schools, churches and more. To find a sale near you, go to the cookie booth locator website.
- Order by phone. Orders can be placed by calling Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland at 877-312-4764.
Orders were placed into bags or boxes. Sarah attached handwritten thank-you notes to each.
After they finished sorting cookies, the two loaded up their red wagon and set out to deliver to neighbors. Five-year-old brother Jack followed on his scooter.
Cookie lovers, rejoice. Girl Scout Cookies are here.
The famous cookies sold across the U.S. help Girl Scout troops fund projects and activities. More important, though, selling the cookies teaches the girls about responsibility and even business.
Columbia’s Girl Scouts are hard at work sorting and delivering Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties and other cookies.
Mary Beth Schwenck, product program specialist for Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, said 794 girls from Columbia’s 90 troops registered to sell Girl Scout Cookies this year. So far, they have sold 8,106 cases of cookies, which equals 97,272 boxes. At $4 a box, that’s $389,088.
The initial cookie-selling period began Jan. 7 and lasted until the end of January, but Scouts can sell until March 13.
In Grant Elementary School’s Daisy Troop 70257, each of the troop’s 17 girls set a personal goal for how many boxes of cookies she wanted to sell. The individual goals were added up to set a troop goal of 1,174 boxes, with a cupcake decorating party planned if they met the goal.
Nicole Myers, co-leader of Troop 70257, said the girls sold about 1,800 boxes.
“They far surpassed the goals they set,” Myers said.
Myers said she enjoyed seeing the girls get excited when they sold more than they thought they would — something they didn’t realize they could do as 5- to 7-year-olds.
Because the girls are young, the troop held a meeting for the girls’ parents before sales started to teach them more about the process.
Rogers, who is the leader of Troop 70257 and Girl Scout coordinator at Grant, said parents often get involved in their daughters’ cookie sales, accompanying them on door-to-door sales or bringing order forms to work.
Myers sold cookies when she was a Girl Scout and said many other mothers in the troop did, too.
“It’s exciting to see our girls do it and see what’s changed,” she said. Her daughter, 7-year-old Isabel, sold cookies this year as a member of Troop 70257.
Myers said selling Girl Scout Cookies teaches the girls about responsibility, from keeping track of their order sheets to making sure they collect all the money.
“It’s a big responsibility for that age group,” Myers said.
So far, she said, there haven't been any problems and sales have gone great.
Rogers said the girls prepared in troop meetings by role-playing, practicing phone calls and talking about what to say when selling and delivering cookies.
“It sometimes is hard to sell them,” 7-year-old Olivia Johnson said. “You just have to ask people if they want to buy them.”
About half of the troop went to a “cookie rally” held at MU with other members of Columbia's Girl Scouts Service Unit 738. At the rally, members of Daisy Girl Scouts and Brownie Girl Scouts played games, watched skits put on by Junior Girl Scouts and, of course, sampled cookies.
Daisy Girl Scouts is for kindergarten and first-grade girls; Brownie Girl Scouts is for second- and third-grade girls; and Junior Girl Scouts is for fourth- and fifth-grade girls.
The cookie sales teach the girls how to go out and talk to people, Myers said, letting them learn leadership on their own.
“It’s a learning process for each of them to get out there and do that,” she said.
Rogers said the best part for her as a leader was seeing how enthusiastic the girls were about selling cookies. She said they often asked where the cookies were, when they were coming and how many boxes they had sold.
“I really think it empowered them,” Rogers said. “It showed them that they can get the order, get the cookies and deliver them.”
The girls learn more than just business sense from selling cookies. Doug Davis, whose daughter, Samantha, is a 9-year-old Brownie Girl Scout at Paxton Keeley Elementary School, said the sales help girls who are shy gain confidence.
Davis said selling cookies has helped Samantha become more comfortable talking to people.
Samantha said selling cookies can be scary. “My emotions just get over me sometimes,” she said.
Although she starts out nervous, she just goes out and tries her first sale, she said.
“If I do good, I just get that courage up and keep on going,” she said.
Olivia said selling cookies was scary for her sometimes but not all of the time.
“When you do it a lot, you get used to it, so it doesn’t make you scared anymore,” she said.
Vicki Johnson, Olivia’s mother and Troop 70257 treasurer, said she and her daughter picked up a few tricks this year to keep in mind for next year’s sales, such as which areas of the neighborhood to sell in and where to go to first, before other Scouts have already sold cookies.
Although some money from cookie sales goes to the larger Girl Scout organization, a portion of it stays with the troops.
Rogers said they use some of the funds to buy supplies and crafts for meetings and to offset the costs of uniforms, books and patches.
The troop also uses the money to do service projects in the community. Rogers said it has not yet been decided what to do with the money earned this year because the sales were higher than expected. Last year the girls planted flowers at Grant Elementary School, something they might do again.
The girls can earn prizes based on how many cookies they sell, such as patches or bags. They also earn Cookie Credit, which can be used to buy merchandise at the Girl Scout store in Jefferson City or be put toward Girl Scout membership or camp fees.
Samantha’s sales so far have earned her a stuffed owl, a tote bag, a messenger bag, a bracelet kit, a notebook and a pen, but the prizes are not her biggest motivator.
“It’s not really all about the prizes; it’s just about having fun,” she said.
Saturday afternoon, Sarah went up to each door to deliver the cookies, with her mother standing close behind, helping hold the boxes or ringing the doorbell.
“What do you say, Sarah?” Rogers asked at one house, reminding Sarah to reply “thank you” before she moved on. As she moved from house to house, she skipped down the street, smiling.
Sarah said delivering the cookies is her favorite part of the cookie sales process.
“It’s been fun because I like to put the cookies in the boxes when there’s a lot, and I really like just dropping them off,” she said.