Saturday, February 14, 2009

Girls Scout Cookies Teach Wrong Lessons

This is Girl Scout Cookie season and it's been some years since I've done a good rant about these little morsels, at least in print, so here goes:

Girl Scout Cookies are not a good thing. Aside from being truly awful for you in the age of fat kids, fatter parents and a population caught in the vise of near epidemic Type 2 diabetes, the sale of these cookies teaches children a series of lessons that are invalid, harmful and inappropriate.

I think Girl Scout Cookies must have started differently than they have evolved and, my guess would be that in the early days, most of what the kids learned was good. I see them baking their own cookies, spending time with their mothers and learning a small, useful skill. I envision them going door-to-door, offering these home-baked cookies to their neighbors and accepting some small amount of money in exchange. All of that money would go to their troop and they would feel a sense of accomplishment throughout all of this.

They would learn much: commerce, customer relations, responsibility, product liability and product quality ("You got sick from my cookies? ..."), salesmanship, team dynamics and competition. It was a good thing, but it was a simpler time. The government had no say in this commerce. It did not forbid the girls from baking and selling as it would today. A 501(c)3 tax exemption was not necessary. Police officers did not feel compelled to accompany the girls on rounds because of safety issues.

It was a different world. But the truth is that the sale of Girl Scout Cookies has changed a lot more than it had to. It has been taken over by corporate fund-raisers and the girls are almost out of the equation. Not only don't they bake the cookies, they often don't even sell them. When was the last time you bought a cookie from a kid and not one of her parents--at work?

Parents selling cookies is not the point of this exercise. It is not meant to train parents to sell nor girls to lean upon them to make the sale. It is not about manipulation ("Oh, Daddy, pleeeeeeeeeease ...") or small fragments of the profit going toward the intended purpose of the activity.

I think the process is so far beyond distortion of original purpose (and that wasn't just making money), that it has become its own very different entity. It is an unhealthy pursuit in every sense--from the bad cookies to the bad lessons--and I don't approve, don't participate and scold everybody I have an opportunity to scold when I am approaches.

Generally, if a little girl has the actual ambition to approach my house to make the sale (and I get to the door before Christina does), I will give her $5 and tell her to keep the cookies and put the whole amount toward the goal. I tell her why I don't like Girl Scout Cookie sales (listening to me earns her the $5 and I hope it elicits at least some thought at some later time; she's too embarrassed to think much at the time of delivery).

So there's the rant: don't buy Girl Scout Cookies because the sale of them is bad for everybody involved except the evil fund-raiser that gets most of the money.

No comments:

Post a Comment