Saturday, March 14, 2009

Merit Badge In Dumb

The Girl Scouts have made a colossal error in telling one enterprising young girl that she cannot sell her Thin Mints online.

"Help me help others. Buy cookies. They're yummy," little Wild says in her one-minute sales pitch for Thin Mints, Samoas and other traditional mainstays of Girl Scout cookie cuisine.

The modest message included an online order form, was videotaped by her father, Bryan Freeborn, in the family living room in Brevard, N.C., and posted at

The Girl Scouts of America, though, frown upon such creativity and drive.

The Girl Scouts were not pleased with Wild's intention to sell 12,000 boxes of cookies and help send her troop to summer camp. The organization ordered the video removed from the social-networking site on the grounds that it violated a policy that bars online sales of Girl Scout cookies. Officials were also concerned that Wild's methods could put less techno-enabled young ladies at a disadvantage. (boldface mine--Darren)

Had they stuck to the first reason--later in the article a GSA spokesperson says that the policy exists for online safety of girls--that would have seemed an argument worth discussing and debating. It's the boldfaced reason that just strikes me as dumb.

I wonder if the young Ms. Freeborn will ever earn this badge.


Ellen K said...

I used to be a GS leader when my daughter was in elementary. While I loved some of the programs and I truly believe it helps some girls become more self-reliant, some of the PC junk they passed as policy was annoying, invasive and disturbing. As for the ad, here's my take on it. I wouldn't want my kid's image or information on the Internet for reasons of personal security. If the GS Council had used THAT for an excuse, I would willingly agree. But to say it's because other girls might not have a computer and it holds them at a disadvantage-that's leftist tripe! There are always going to be those kids who take class or troop sales to their parents' offices and end up selling more than the kids who just sells to his or her parents. My own family ran into that with band sales. We don't have an extended family and my husband works at home. So sales for my kids were minimal. Some kids would pay for their entire band trip with selling just to relatives. Life isn't fair. Maybe the GS should have a badge about that.

Mia Zagora said...

Gee, the girl's name is Wild'd think the kid could catch a break on something! ;)

allen (in Michigan) said...

I'm inclined to think the reason might be a bit more mercenary and mundane then the reasons given.

From what I understand the Girl Scouts have a quite cozy relationship with the cookie outfit and might be unhappy about any new factors that would upset things.

It might be nothing more then putting a spotlight on the ridiculously over-priced nature of Girl Scout cookies, a factor which is currently offset by the individual and personal nature of the sales. Once the price is out there for everyone to see it might be tougher to sell against comparable cookies from a grocery store.

And yes, I do know they're fund-raisers but they're also cookies and they'll suffer by the comparison when it's more convenient to make the comparison.

The main reason I'm inclined to view this situation with a jaundiced eye is the utter lameness of the reasons given.

It's not the job of the Girl Scouts to decide what is and isn't safe for their charges. That's the job of mommies and daddies. The Girl Scouts certainly have a responsibility to avoid irresponsible and dangerous activities but the final determination has to rest with parents. If this girl's parents are OK with her selling cookies via YouTube then the Girl Scouts only reason for objecting is if the Girl Scouts felt that the sales technique endangered other girls in some way.

The "digital divide" objection is too ridiculous to address.

Since the reasons given were so utterly lame I am driven to the belief that the real reasons wouldn't bear scrutiny, i.e. mercenary.

Steve USMA '85 said...

I guess I have to agree with the GS on this one. I run a number of volunteer fund raisers and one of the things I strive for is to offer roughly equal opportunities to earn money. One of the charity functions I run is our HS's Christmas Tree sale. Volunteers who work the sales get credit of every hour they work. I take the profit, divide by total number of hours worked to get the $/hour each volunteer gets. I have large families who want to bring eight people to work the entire day and then I have a dancer from a single parent family whose mother works weekends (when the sales are) who can only work four hours one day because she also works to help support herself.

When I put out my call for volunteers, it is first come, first served for time-slots. However, no family can work more than four hours unless I don't have enough volunteers. This is a way to ensure that everyone who wishes to earn money has the opportunity. I could easily staff my sales from about ten families but spreading it out is seen as more fair by all.

The GS cookie sales are the same thing. GS have near-universal coverage across the United States. There is a troop near everyone. So, everyone gets hit up by the local troop or their own personal favorite girl scout. There are not many people who buy four boxes from 10 different girls. Most buy there couple of boxes and then say 'no thanks, already have some' to the next girl who tries to sell them some. There is not an infinite number of buyers out there.

In a way, you can look at it that every box one girl sells is a box that another can not. If you allow one, or a handful, of girls corner the market, many deserving young ladies will not be able to fund their trips even partially because one girl funded her entire troop and then some.

Restricting Internet sales is a way to ensure each area of the Country is covered by a limited number of girls giving each of them a better chance to earn some money toward their own trips & troops.

You have to remember that this is not a true capitalist enterprise. It is a fund raiser which supports individual girls, troops, and the local/state/national levels. As such, it should limit sales to ensure some equity in funds raised.

Anna said...


I have to disagree with your observation about Girl Scouts being almost universal.

I am now in my 3rd or 4th year without cookies. No chance for them to ring doorbells in the apartment complex, nor do I see them at the local grocery stores (or at least when I am there, generally just after 4 pm)

I'd be willing to buy from a local girl or troop on-line and go pick them up at a public place (so an adult is there).

Steve USMA '85 said...

Anna, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you live in Maryland, I can hook you up with some GS's I know.