Girl Scouts learn more than selling cookies

Girl Scouts learn more than selling cookies

SMITHFIELD – The Apple Valley Girl Scout Troop, number 382, will be setting up cookie booths this weekend, but according to troop member Melody Fontaine, it’s not just about the cookies.

Fontaine, 16, a sophomore at North Smithfield High School, is a member of the Apple Valley Troop and representative of the recently formed G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader) media team.

As a G.I.R.L. media team member, she prepared to speak to the press about cookie sales, and the effort’s significance to Girl Scouts. She is one of 12 media team members in the Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England region.

Even though there are about 100 boxes of cookies in her hallway at home, Fontaine said this is about the business and financial lessons behind the cookie sales, as well as the fundraising that goes into badge campaigns and educational field trips.

“Cookie sales teach the girls skills they need to be productive from a customer and business perspective,” she said. “It teaches the girls financial literacy, to learn how to run a business based on goal-setting.”

Another skill learned from cookies sales is marketing, Fontaine said. She and her troop design posters and decorations to “draw attention to the booths.” She said in previous years, the troop used statistics of popular flavors to make pie charts for the posters.

According to Rachel Pintarelli, GSSNE director of marketing and communications, in 2017, Thin Mints were the top seller. Second place went to the new S’mores cookies, making their debut last year as well.

Fontaine’s goal this year is to sell 500 boxes of cookies, up 200 boxes from last year. She said funds raised from cookie sales will pay for an upcoming field trip to Newport, where the troop plans to learn about the seaport’s history, traveling to the mansions and camping in Fort Adams State Park.

Camping trips and badge campaigns often mean spending out-of-pocket money for supplies, admission, and badges, said her mother, Kelly Fontaine, Apple Valley Troop leader.

“We try to really keep cookies paying for it, and stay cognizant of what families can afford to pay,” she said.

In that way, cookie sales teach budgeting to the Scouts, Fontaine said. On previous trips, the girls made shopping lists for groceries and camping supplies, all using a budget funded from cookie sales, she said.

The Girl Scout said last year’s cookie funds would help pay for a glass-blowing class the troop elected to take in Newport during their trip. Though the lesson didn’t lead to a badge, she said the troop was interested in learning the skill. She said the troop acts as a democracy, and votes on which badges to campaign toward and where to spend money.

“We make sure every girl put in their idea, and we go with the majority,” she said.

Lastly, Fontaine said the troop learns about charity, and votes on an organization to donate gifted boxes of cookies, ones that people purchase for donations. In the past, the troop chose to ship boxes to troops overseas, as well as give to the local food pantry.

The Apple Valley troop, combined in January 2016 to feature scouts from Johnston, Scituate, Smithfield, and North Smithfield, will set up booths at local grocery and drug stores in the upcoming weeks to boost sales.

The Apple Valley Troop’s cookie campaign runs now through March. New this year, the Girl Scouts released a “Cookie Finder” application for mobile phones, where cookies can be scouted out by zip code.