Tech Savvy Girl Scout Criticized for Her Innovative, Online Cookie Ordering

March 13, 2009 at 11:37 am 2 comments


(photograph by Tyler Keehn Cleveland — talented millennial photographer!) 

The Cookie Crumbles: By banning online sales, are the Girl Scouts failing our daughters?” reads more like materials for The Daily Show than Newsweek.  In short, an innovative Girl Scout from Asheville, North Carolina solicited her dad’s help to market her cookies locally online and create an online ordering system; her goal was to raise enough money for her entire troop of first-time scouts to attend Girl Scout Camp this summer.  What a great idea!  I’d have trouble saying no to her sells pitch too.   She even has her own Facebook group!  (I joined!) I wonder if she’s interested in work with an awesome social media company… 

wild-freeborn(Wild pictured mid-sales pitch). However, other scout parents called the move unfair and in violation of Girl Scout’s no online sales policy.  Wild and her Dad set up their site to only take orders online from local people, so Wild could deliver and sell the cookies in person.  From looking at their site, I’m not sure what would happen if I tried to order as an out-of-towner.  [Full disclosure: I was a Girl Scout for 5+ years and had complaints about my own zealous efforts to sell cookies.  However, in my case the complaining girl was told she’d better learn to keep up “if she wanted to be successful in life.”  For what it’s worth, we’ve both turned out alright.]  I do understand the rule interpretation in the Freeborn’s situation is splitting a hair, and I get how parents could be miffed.  I don’t know any parent that likes to see their own child’s efforts outdone, particularly if they feel rule bending/breaking was used in the process.  

Beyond the gray area of the Freeborns’ experience, what a missed opportunity for the Girl Scout program!  The digital natives engaged through scouting probably have more tech savvy than the national leadership team, which is unfortunate. Newsweek’s article explained,

“That message isn’t lost on the national Girl Scouts association, but the group’s digital strategy seems confused and behind the times. Michelle Tompkins, a spokeswoman, says, “Girl Scouts of the USA is not shunning the Internet … though we still have to figure out how to do this.” Tompkins notes that the marketing of cookies is allowed online, but sales are still verboten. She also highlighted a few other online advances, including the recent creation of a Thin Mints Facebook page and the registering of, a Web site with information on how to buy cookies from local troops.

On the girls’ level, few of the badges that scouts can earn involve technology, and of those that do, the requirements are paltry: the “Computer Smarts” requirement for young girls (or “Brownies”) only requires that they visit three Web sites. For older girls, the CyberGirl Scout badge is earned in part by sending an e-mail. “These skills are at a level I’m sure many girls can already surpass,” says Andrea Matwyshyn, a colleague of Fader’s at Wharton.”

I hope that the organization will continue to improve itself and raise online expectations to meet the competency and demand of their digitally literate scouts.  Girl Scouts is in a unique role to teach a huge number of young girls the ins and outs of digital citizenship, online sales and entrepreneurship; I hope the organization will choose to seize the opportunity!

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Entry filed under: Digital Citizenship, Doing Good, Kids, News, Online Tools, Opportunities, Social Media, Social Networks, Technology, Youth. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Baylink  |  March 16, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    You know, not a single person seems to be responding to “she has to sell 12,000 boxes of cookies”.

    A moving company client of mine is the local warehouse; I would be surprised if they had that many. That’s 1000 cases, and they stack maybe 80 to a pallet… that’s a *lot* of cookies.

    I’m going to assume whomever said 12,000 boxes of cookies was probably wrong.

  • 2. Amy Strecker  |  March 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Baylink — what a sharp eye you have! The Newsweek article and Facebook group say 12,000, but Wild’s order site says 1,200. The 1,200 does seem much more realistic.


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