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Answer by Michelle Victor, Girl Scout from kindergarten to high school:
I was a Girl Scout from kindergarten through senior year of high school, and I can say that there is no better time to be a Girl Scout than during cookie-selling season. Looking back, selling cookies was possibly the best exercise for me throughout those years, and with every passing year, I felt more excited and more confident for the successes and rejections that come with selling cookies.
While both the cookies and process for selling cookies has evolved over the years since I have been an inactive member of the Girl Scouts, fundamental life skills that girls are gaining have not changed, nor do I see that changing. Here are some of my personal favorite skills I learned.
Setting and reaching goals. Personally, I never cared about how many cookies I sold or what personal prizes there were. It was about setting a goal as a group and then reaching and ultimately surpassing this goal. We used cookie sales as a fundraiser that contributed to our troop dues, trips, and events. At the beginning of every year, we brainstormed on various events and trips we would take and how much we would need to fundraise to offset the costs. Sometimes we hit those goals, and sometimes we didn't, but no mater what, everyone was working hard during cookie sales because we knew that was our time to shine.
Dealing with rejection. Selling cookies to the public is hard work. Whether we stood outside of a bank or a church or a grocery store, being out in the elements and facing all kinds of pleasant ways that strangers say “no” to cookies was tough to deal with. As we grew older, we learned how to take “no” just as gracefully as we learned how to take “yes.”
Working as a team. Girl Scouts is a wonderful representation of life and work—not everyone gets along all the time. So when it came time to sell cookies, being paired with my worst enemy at the time was torture, but parents and troop leaders never let us switch partners or call out sick for the sake of drama. This taught us how to get along to work together and overcome differences for a bigger goal.
Dealing with the stigma of being a Girl Scout. For some reason, some people think being a Girl Scout is really uncool or nerdy. I never considered myself to fall into this category, but when cookie time rolled around and my peers found out I was a Girl Scout or was reminded I was a Girl Scout, I was reminded of this stigma. I wouldn't say I was bullied for being a Girl Scout, but I would say I was forced to display an obscene amount of confidence around my involvement. Because cookie time brings a certain exposure to the Girl Scouts, understanding and knowing I would have to be confident around things that my peers don't understand or try to make fun of was incredibly helpful for me throughout my life.
Although the list goes on and on, I think selling cookies is the most valuable exercise for a Girl Scout. Yes, the cookies are delicious, and yes, they can be considered overpriced, but it's all part of the exercise. And, in my opinion, the exercise is about learning how to handle similar situations that life may bring.
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