BEDFORD, NH – Girls and women drive nearly 80 percent of all consumer spending, but are only paid about 80 cents for every dollar men make. Girls’ dollars matter, and on the International Day of the Girl Child, October 11, Girl Scouts of the USA is advocating for building a skilled girl force of smart, employable, and financially literate leaders. Girl Scout Cadette Kacilynn Hernandez-Feliciano of Newton, 14, is one of those leading the way.
When it comes to economic empowerment, Girl Scouts champions girls as they hone skills that are important to the world of work and become leaders who confidently make financial decisions. One of the ways they become G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ and our future business leaders is through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, the largest girl-led business in the world.
Girl Scouts learn five valuable life skills and earn badges when selling cookies:
- Goal setting – Girls set cookie sales goals and, with their team, create a plan to reach them.
- Decision making – Girls develop a basic business plan for cookie sales and work as a team to decide when and where to sell cookies and what to do with their earnings.
- Money management – Girls develop a budget, take cookie orders, handle customers’ money, and gain valuable and practical life skills.
- People skills – Girls learn how to talk to, listen to, and work with all kinds of people while selling cookies.
- Business ethics – Girls are honest and responsible during every step of cookie sales.
Kacilynn has put all those skills into action, becoming a Cookie Pro for the past three years for Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains (GSGWM), the council that serves New Hampshire and Vermont.
Spending nearly 200 hours of her time over the entire 12-week cookie season this past winter, six of them at cookie booths, Kacilynn sold 5,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
“We did them on weekends, every weekend during cookie season,” she said about selling outside storefronts. “Also during school break in February, and Friday nights at the (Rockingham) mall. Days off from school. For those six weeks, that’s all I do!”
She also sold cookies through her online storefront, at workplaces, and asking neighbors, teachers and friends.
“Besides the amount of time I spend at stores, I’ve been taught to ask everyone,” she said. “They’ll walk right past. Usually I ask people when they’re coming out (of the store).”
If people hesitated, she’d let them know they could also help by purchasing cookies to be donated to Operation Cookie, a program that sends Girl Scout cookies to those serving in the U.S. military.
But why would any young person want to give all this valuable time to selling cookies, when they could be doing any number of other activities?
For Kacilynn, the answer is the opportunities offered by Girl Scouts, along with improving her financial skills, becoming a better public speaker, and earning badges. She even used her earnings to enable her troop to buy and install a Buddy Bench at her elementary school as her Bronze Award project. The student council at Newton Memorial School also collaborated with the Girl Scouts in the endeavor.
She said the effort she put into cookie sales has paid off in many ways.
“When I was younger, I used to struggle with math,” she said. “I’ve learned how to properly use the money. I used to be bad at giving out change. Now I’m good at it! I was terrible with money. Now I’m terrible with others things, but not money!”
Kacilynn admits to a fear of public speaking, but has learned how to deal with that. She’s done presentations at schools, networking groups, and other events.
This enterprising Girl Scout has gone to England and Iceland, thanks to her drive and skills learned in the program.
“I wanted to go on these trips with my friends,” she said. “When we were at Poacher in England, there were over 10,000 people there. That’s a national encampment. We’d do cool activities like roller skating, listen to music, go to a carnival – they had all these shows during lunch.” And it’s not just trips abroad. “Most of the things I’ve done with Girl Scouts, I’d probably never get to do out of (Girl Scouts). I went whitewater rafting – it was great! I went hiking and I didn’t know I’d like hiking until I went hiking!”
The key to her success? Set a goal and ask people to buy. “Don’t be afraid to ask!”
“You have to have a goal,” she said. “Your goal could be 500 (boxes), 100. But you need to put all of your heart and soul into it or you’re not going to get anywhere. You have to have someone backing you up. She (her mother) drives me all these places. You have to be willing to put the time into it.”
Having the support of her mother certainly helped, but all Girl Scouts need the help of an adult to sell cookies. For the safety and support of all Girl Scouts, troop leaders and other adults are involved with each girl’s efforts.
Kacilynn is now in eighth grade at Sanborn Regional Middle School, with plans for a possible art career after college. Whatever her future holds, it will be backed up with the skills she gains each year as a Girl Scout, gaining courage, confidence and character.
The Girl Scout Cookie Program revenue is a critical source of funding for local Girl Scout councils and is often what makes it possible to reach girls in hard-to-serve areas and maintain Girl Scout camps and properties. Additionally, Girl Scout troops can use their earnings to pay for program supplies, activities, and group travel.
Girls may earn Cookie Business badges and Financial Literacy badges at every level of Girl Scouting. New this year are 30 badges and two Journeys (a thematic series of earned awards) in cybersecurity, environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science and space exploration.
One hundred percent of the net proceeds from Girl Scout Cookie sales is retained by the originating council and troop to power amazing experiences for girls and impactful girl-led community projects. Each council determines its own revenue structure, depending on its cookie cost, local retail price, and the amount that is shared with participating troops.
“Through progressively attainable and measurable goals, Girl Scouts provides experiences that will prepare girls for their future,” said Robin Boyd, GSGWM’s manager of product sales. “Girls use the life skills they acquire through our program to have an impact on their communities and beyond and, in turn, find their voices as leaders. I am consistently in awe of what our girls accomplish.”
A girl who learns these skills is a girl who can set goals and meet deadlines, who works well with others, who understands customers, can influence others, and is honest, trustworthy and reliable – all skills every employer values.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our innovative leadership programs help girls discover, connect, and take action as they develop strong values, a social conscience, and a deep sense of self and their potential. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.
In order to prevent marketplace confusion, Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains requests that any references to our organization or Girl Scouts generally include the word “Girl” rather than just “Scouts.” The proper name of our national organization is “Girl Scouts of the USA.” For further information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-474-9686.