An open letter to the Girl Scouts: UPDATED (AGAIN)


My daughter, Hailey, has been in Girl Scouts for years.  I was never a big fan of Girl Scouts but I am a giant supporter of my kid and if she likes Girl Scouts then we will be at every damn meeting while I huddle in the corner of the room, smiling at the other mothers while unsuccessfully pretending my social anxiety disorder isn’t completely obvious to everyone.

And, for the most part, it’s quite lovely.  Except for twice.  One of those things I’m still working on and will write about soon because I can’t do it without screaming a lot.  The other can’t wait because girl scout cookies go on sale tomorrow and I have serious reservations.

I contacted the CEO who told me to email the social media team, but so far I have no good answers so I’m just going to put this letter on my blog and maybe it will cause someone in head office to say, “This lady is 18 kinds of wrong.  Let’s straighten her out right now, and make sure that we answer people when they badger us because they might be psychopaths with blogs.”  Or maybe it will cause someone in the head office to say, “YES.  YOU ARE EXACTLY RIGHT AND WE CAN DO BETTER.”  Or maybe they’ll say, “Your daughter is kicked out of Girl Scouts.  Good luck starting your own club, loser.”  And that would be unfortunate but I’ve promised Hailey that if it does happen I will help her create the “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club” and she was mollified.

Now, enough preamble…here’s the letter:

Hi there. My name is Jenny Lawson and I’m having some issues I can’t seem to get answers to.

My daughter is 10 and has loved Girl Scouts for years but there are a few issues we have concerning cookie sales and I’ve been unable to get a straight answer from anyone I’ve contacted. Two issues:

1. I’ve read on the Girl Scouts website that the current pension deficit issue will cause most local councils to see a 40% increase in pension expenses starting the day girl scout cookies go on sale, and a 62% increase over the next three years. According to the girl site “For many Girl Scout councils, this means that the pension expense will suck up money that would normally go toward operating expenses such as staff salaries and benefits, camp maintenance, outreach programs for at-risk girls, scholarship support for low-income girls, and general programming.

I know you’re currently trying to get congress to grant legislation to help you but I haven’t heard of any progress on that, so I’m under the impression that as it stands, cookie sales that previously went to scholarships and camp maintenance will now be used to pay pension debt.  I’m reading of many historic camps that are being closed or sold.  It’s a concern for many reasons, but particularly because the girls in our troop were always able to say that cookie sales help at-risk girls and support community camps. We haven’t been able to get any verbiage to respond to people who will ask why girl scout camps are being sold and whether the councils will be able to support scholarships as they have in the past.

2. The digital cookie sales that will allow girl scouts to sell online starting this year: From what I’ve read online, if my daughter sells a box of cookies to her nana online, her nana will be charged $4 for the cookies and $11.25 for shipping. So of the $15+ sale for one box of cookies my daughters troop will see about 60 cents. Is that right? Was that the most competitive shipping price available? Were there other bids?

Also, I’ve heard there is a handling fee of $1.25 if you pay online but have the girl scout deliver the cookies to you. Why is that, when the girls offer free personal delivery when ordering in person?  (I’ve also seen it called a “credit card fee” for girl scout delivery, but that number seems incredibly high if it’s a processing fee, and credit card surcharge fees are illegal in our state.)   Does the girl scout troop get the delivery fee?  Do people who buy boxes online but donate them to the official Girl Scout charity have to pay those fees as well?

I hate to be nit-picky but it seems like an extremely questionable business model and my daughter has been taught by the Girl Scouts to ask questions when you think something is wrong, and to make good financial decisions, so that’s why we’re asking you for a real response so we can make a decision on whether her time is best spent selling cookies, or doing something with a greater return to her community.

Hailey is currently working toward her Bronze Award, focusing on the Girl Scouts Journey which concentrates on stopping harmful gender stereotypes, and one of the inequities we’ve discussed ourselves is that, on average, women often accept and are paid less than their male counterparts. We looked at the breakdowns and agreed that this years cookie sales program undervalues her contribution, but we also thought it was important to voice our concerns, to work hard to make sure we understood the reasoning and facts, and to try to make this organization a stronger one by asking the hard questions. I hope that you’ll be able to answer us before cookies go on sale.

As always, good luck.

~ Jenny Lawson

UPDATED (day 2): First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Secondly, thanks for the great feedback.  It’s both relieving and disconcerting to see that so many of us have the same concerns, but I think that’s a really helpful thing for the Girl Scouts to know.   The good news is that last night the Girl Scouts twitter account said they’d touch base with us after the holidays, and this morning the CEO (Anna M. Chávez) DMed me to say they’d follow up with us tomorrow.  Hopefully they’ll have a good response explaining the details, or expounding on how they plan to improve in either deed, transparency or communications. It’s not ideal, but it’s a step in a good direction and hopefully one that will make the organization stronger.

Also, Hailey has decided to pass on the online sales thing this year, but my sweet daughter will probably be one of those excited young girl scouts manning a cookie booth outside a grocery story because she loves being an extrovert (I suspect she was switched at birth) so please keep in mind that the little girls asking for sales are not privy to -or responsible for- all of these complicated issues and should never be yelled at for their excitement. It’s fine to say “Sure, I love Do-Si-Dos” or “No, thanks” but yelling at small children isn’t really kosher. I know I probably don’t have to say this out loud for any regular reader with common sense, but just in case this gets to someone who isn’t a regular, please remember that children are children and are affected by your interactions.

If you’ve read my book you’ll know that already because my dedication page reads:

jenny lawson book

In other words, that shit sticks, so be nice to small children. That’s just basic human decency.

I’ll keep you posted on what I hear.  Also, Hailey was extremely excited to hear how many of you were interested in the Doctor Who/Zombie/Night Vale Club.  She’s designing a logo right now.  No dues.  Requirements: Be kind to one another.  And always carry a towel.  (We just finished The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy.  ‘Nuff said.)

PS. Some of you are saying that the shipping is for a case at a time and that you can’t order less than 6 boxes at a time, but I just checked it myself and was able to place an order for one box of cookies.  It was $11.25 shipping.  Also, it looks like if you choose to have your local girl scout deliver it or if you donate the cookies to the USO you’ll be paying a “handling fee” for online orders.

Here’s the breakdown:

Click image to embiggen.

 UPDATED (Day 3):  So, I don’t know what to tell you.  I was told the Girl Scouts would follow up with us today, but when I sent a tweet reminding them that we were promised a response, the Girl Scouts twitter account (very sweetly) said their Chief Digital Cookie Lead had sent me an email this morning.  I searched everywhere but turns out she sent an email to some random woman whose email is nothing like mine.  I asked their twitter person to just forward it to my email but they said the Digital Cookie Lead would have to do that and “she’s out of the office on holiday but should follow up soon.”

My response to them:

“I appreciate the thought.  Honestly though, I’m so disappointed.  Hundreds of people who are involved in Girl Scouts are on my blog asking for answers and no one representing the Girl Scouts has responded to any of our concerns, and more keep arising.

At this point I have to assume that the lack of a good answer is our answer and that’s very disheartening.

Also, I realize you personally are not the entire Girl Scout Organization and your hands are probably tied yourself, but if you have the ability to pass this up to someone who will listen it would be nice to know that these concerns are at least known.  Responsive and effective communications, transparency, and dialogue are so important.

Also, as a suggestion: Perhaps next year the online sales program should not be launched on the same week that the Digital Cookie Lead responsible for it is off on holiday.

I wish you good luck and I hope that these issues can be resolved in the future. I know you’ll agree that our girls deserve that.”

If any real response ever comes I’ll pass it on here.  Until then I’ll be buying Thin Mints because I like the cookies and love to see happy kids giddy over making a sale, but not necessarily because I think its a good investment in the girls.

UPDATED (Day 5):  Just got an email from the Girl Scout Social Media team.  It answers a few questions very well, is vague on others, ignores some altogether, and a few of the answers seem questionable, but frankly I’m just happy to see that someone is paying attention and responding.  I’ve also invited them to come here to respond to your questions.   Thanks for hanging in there, you guys.  And thanks for pushing for answers.  At least a few of them are here, and that feels like a small victory for all of us.  :

Response from the Girl Scouts Social Media Account (January 5th):

Dear Jenny,

Thanks for reaching out to express your concerns and apologies in the delay in repsonse over the holiday.

As you know, the Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. It is a shared goal of our movement to maximize the dollars available to serve girls.

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) made great effort over the past year working nationally with councils on two separate relief efforts to ease the financial burden stemming from the liability in the National Girl Scout Council Retirement Plan.

In April 2014, we were able to announce that GSUSA had officially signed an agreement with the IRS as fiduciary of the Council Pension Plan to extend the amortization period by more than four years. President Obama also signed into law H.R. 4275, a relief package unanimously passed by Congress that will smooth out council contributions over the next three years by allowing council pension plans to go back under the Pension Protection Act. Girl Scout councils and supporters nationwide united to contact over 100 Congressional offices, and wrote over 1,000 letters. The legislative support for the movement is truly historic—in fact, only 0.3 percent of Senate bills (three other bills) had such a high level of support. In addition to relief efforts, GSUSA included $1M in its Fiscal Year 2015 budget for pension assistance to councils participating in the National Girl Scout Council Retirement Plan.

To share a bit about our movement’s structure, each of the 112 Girl Scout councils have their own nonprofit status, budgets, operating models, camps, programmatic offerings, and cookie selling periods. Financial decisions such as whether or not to sell or close a camp based on usage, costs, and other camp property, are made by each local council.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program has been providing girls with educational and confidence-building experiences since the first recorded cookie sale in 1917. In keeping with tradition, the revenue from cookie sales will continue to benefit individual girl scouts. While a council may at times tap cookie money for core expenses like programming or staffing, the primary beneficiary is the girls, who decide how to spend their troop cookie money to reinvest in their communities and to have new learning experiences.

As Digital Cookie is a brand new initiative, we can understand that people need to become more familiar with the ins and outs. Shipping costs are in line with established industry standards from reputable companies, and comparable to what customers would pay to ship cookies. With time, we hope that the scale of sales through this part of the program will drive down the costs of shipping and handling.

We would like to assure you that Girl Scouts is committed to bringing girls a dynamic, exciting, and, most of all, FUN Girl Scout experience—one they cannot get anywhere else.

Thanks again for seeking clarification. We’re working to update our website and hope this note has addressed your concerns. Best wishes to your daughter, we hope she has a ah-mazing year with her troop!

And so there we are.  What have we learned?  We learned that the pension issue could have been answered a month ago when our troop first sent letters asking what it meant and then I wouldn’t have written this post in the first place.  But I did, and it was good because looking at the comments you can see real issues…some that we can change and others that we can’t.  We know that often the issues we think we struggle with alone are actually far-reaching, and are worthy of addressing.  We’ve learned that a large corporation cannot be all things to all people, and that the success of your troop depends almost entirely on the skills and choices of your specific troop, leaders, volunteers and local council.   We’ve learned that no one really knows entirely what is going on.  (I suspect we already knew that.)

But the thing I learned the most through all of this is that the woman who started the girl scouts was a bad-ass who looked like she would kill you and eat you if you messed with her or her girls.

Juliette Gordon Low

There wasn’t a commercial cookie program when she was around (aside from sporadic bake sales of homemade cookies) and I suspect if she was around now she’d be asking a lot of these same questions, and pointing to her 1917 quote on the importance of “Thriftiness” being taught to girl scouts:

“The most valuable thing we have in this life is time, and most girls are apt to be rather stupid about getting the most out of it….Money is a very useful thing to have.” ~ Juliette Gordon Low

Of course, this was a woman who found out that her dead husband willed all of his money to his mistress and she was like, “Aw, HELL NO.  LAWYER UP, Y’ALL, BECAUSE THIS BULLSHIT WILL NOT STAND.”  (I’m paraphrasing.  BTW…she won that half million dollar lawsuit, against the advice of friends who advised her to not make waves.)

But there’s another quote from her that probably fits better here, even though it’s a bit poignant for this sort of irreverent blog.

Juliette Gordon Low on Girl Scouting:

“I realize that each year it has changed and grown until I know that,
a decade from now, what I might say of it would seem like an echo of
what has been instead of what is.

The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.” 

This might not be what Juliette had in mind when she starting Girl Scouts, but I’d like to think that our work today to ask the hard questions and fight the good fight would have earned a small nod from her.  And possibly a raised eyebrow at all the cursing.

Probably both.

718 thoughts on “An open letter to the Girl Scouts: UPDATED (AGAIN)

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Dear Jenny and Haley:



    Someone who only hacked a couple years in the Girl Scouts before saying “the hell with this” because the 4-H club in her town had a better camp anyway

  2. The post office will deliver for WAY less than $11.25. I work in the mail order industry. Girl Scout cookie volume is much greater than the product we sell – and we pay $5.35 for a package the size of GS cookies. The Girl Scouts better get on the phone and ask for Commercial Plus Pricing. And that $5.90 can go to the kids who can’t pay for camp. Done.

  3. Right on. These are exactly the kinds of questions that should be asked of any organization and its fundraising. Bravo for raising it.

  4. My daughters recently dropped out of Girl Scouts. I too was very concerned by how little funds went directly to the Troop that was responsible for selling the cookies. I understand that the Troops need to have Council oversight, but really, just how are the services provided by Council or even National? I was a Troop leader for two years, and they were the most frustrating years of my life. Our Council was useless to put it kindly.

  5. Send it Jenny. You are spot on. If the Girls Scouts mission isn’t to help every girl’s transition to adulthood, regardless of ethnicity, social status, sexual orientation, etc, then it has outlived its usefulness.

  6. You are parenting right. And I am kind of glad my kid isn’t doing Girl Scouts any more because the online cookie thing is baffling to me, too, but without a kid directly involved I didn’t feel compelled to address it directly to GS. I hope you get an answer.

    But I’d be lying if I didn’t also want to learn more about this What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club, because MAN is that relevant to my…children’s interests. Yes. The interests of my children.

  7. Who knew that thin mints were so political? Does that mean if Hailey were to sell boxes and boxes of them while standing outside a gym or Weight Watchers meeting, that the money would be going towards the fat cats retiring other than the well placed and industrial young scouts? That’s just wrong. Although I guess it’s teaching youth the value of staying in a job long enough that you can retire on cookies.

  8. Get ’em, Jenny.

    (I almost said, “post a link to your kid’s online sales”, but then I decided that would be weird. So I didn’t.)

    Good luck! 🙂

  9. This is why my daughter quit girl scouts this year. My friend and troop leader just couldn’t justify continuing this charade any more. It’s obvious that someone is lining their pockets with the money from the cookies. I hope you get an answer from them.

  10. I’m a Girl Scout leader in Ohio, I have’t heard any of this stuff (which doesn’t mean it’s not happening here too, our council pretty much blows concerning any type of communication). I’ll keep my fingers crossed you get some answers, and quickly. Dealing with any of the Girl Scouts that aren’t in volunteer positions have always been a pain in the ass, in my experience. Good luck!

  11. This is a great letter Jenny- I read about the closing of a number of camps a year or so ago- it seemed like alot of the money is being used for things other than helping the girls- like .. office space in pricey locations. Sad, because so many girls benefit greatly from Scouts.

  12. AMEN! Unfortunately, in many places Girl Scouts has become all about the Council and not about the girls. You want to up your frustration level by a bazillion? Try being a GS freaking Leader. I was yelled at, condescended to, disrespected and abused–and none of that came from the girls or their parents. And frequently, when I asked Council-wide or state-wide questions about policy, I’d get really snide responses that dodged the question.

    That aside, I’m extremely proud of the girls I worked with, and the women who led our troop with me.

    You are very correct to be concerned about closing camps, where the money is going, lack of scholarships, and that outrageous shipping fee. I hope you’ll keep us posted if you get any answers!


  13. Hi Jenny! I have always had the exact same questions, and the same dilemma. But I’m an extremist, and will spite the heck out of people by marching through the forest without a path. What I do for the girls is skip the cookies, and the calories, and made a donation check to the troop for $249. If it were $250, it would go to their head council, and they would take a cut, and then the troop would get it. That way I paid money that would have 100% of the money directly benefit the troop I was helping without the ‘cut a bit here’, and ‘a cut for this there’.

  14. Those are all excellent and valid questions to be asking, and ones that the Girl Scouts should answer. In fact they should have been addressed prior to your asking them, so that you didn’t need to. Perhaps other people who have daughters in Girl Scouts who share your concerns could also send letters reiterating your points?

    Finally, I would like to join the What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club. This sounds like an organization that will have some valuable life skills to impart to its members. Will there be badges / patches to earn? Can we earn them online via distance learning? Is being able to build our own sonic screwdriver (with wood setting, obviously) a prerequisite to admission into the Prep Club? Or is this a skill that will be taught?

  15. I’m really glad you’re asking these questions. I was in Girl Scouts for a very long time and as I got older, I found that the people above my troop leaders were not always 100% honest with us and did not really care for questions like these. The organization should definitely be made aware that it’s in their best interest to be transparent with their members. Go Jenny!

  16. Genius. Pure genius. As a Girl Scout leader, I have over the years had less and less faith that GSUSA has their poop in a group (and I had very little faith in that to begin with), so I doubt you’ll get a sensical answer. I think pertinent questions they should have answered on that page were, “How did you not see this coming?” and “Why do you still participate in pensions when corporation after corporation after corporation (I’m looking at you USPS and the city of Detroit) have proven that pensions are not the fiscally responsible way to fund retirement plans?” Maybe you could do a questions, part 2?

  17. I too have issues with the Girl Scout program as I’ve tried to get my disabled daughter involved and not one group in our area will accept her. I paid her dues and waited for her “new leader” to contact us. Never happened so I started calling. I was told my the rep for my area that unfortunately they can not force a group to accept a scout but my daughter is more than welcome to go at it alone. Asked what that meant for her and the ladies response was she can sell cookies. So basically my daughter can earn money for them but will not be able to participate it actual Girl Scouts. I asked for my money back and they refused to refund it. They also wouldn’t answer any calls or emails after that. My daughter is now a girls scout in a group 1 and half hours away because there was a group that was willing to take her. Vent done…

  18. I really hope you get an answer. I’d like to know the answer to these questions too. Also you’re an amazing parent 😀

  19. You are using your power for good. These ARE outstanding questions, ones which (as the single mom of a boy who already rejected Boy Scouts) I never knew existed. I look forward to hearing the response, and to asking friends whose daughters are in GS if they were aware of these issues.

  20. You are amazing. Thank you for taking the time to investigate this issue and attempt to get an answer. I appreciate your commitment to your daughter and to all the girls helped by the Girl Scouts.

  21. PERFECT! This is exactly what needs to be asked all over the place. I have been brought into the manager’s office for not being bubbly or warm enough ( I just really fucking love sass. Deal.) When I asked if it was because I’m a woman and cited male coworkers as ALL not being bubbly whatsoever, the issue was immediately dropped.

  22. Awesome! I am a girl scout leader and I have the exact same concerns as you have stated. I do hope someone can answer these questions for us both. I will forward this to our Northern California council and see if I can get a response.

  23. I think these questions are wonderful & hope they re-evaluate their plans to be more beneficial to the girls they serve. Maybe her efforts would be better utilized through the charitable works you have created. Happy New Year!!

  24. Perhaps the Cookie Age is coming to a close? I know it’s tradition and everything but if it isn’t effective fundraising and even worse seems pointless to the girls, why bother? (I hope the Girl Scout Hit Squad don’t firebomb my house for saying that.)

  25. Fantastic. I want to hug you. Good for both of you for asking the hard questions. Too often major organizations manage to sneak their plans past our noses and it thrills me to see you sticking your nose right in their business. Please keep us updated and please keep being awesome ~ both of you!

  26. Thanks for writing this letter, Jenny. My daughter will also begin selling cookies soon. Her troop leader let us know that “there are a lot of changes that we need to know about”. I’ve always known that the percentage of profit that troops make from cookie sales is ridiculously low, but given that it’s one of the only ways that a troop makes money, I’ve always bought (and now, sold) cookies to support the scouts. However, if what you’ve written is true, and I’m sure it is, I don’t know how much time I will be spending helping my daughter peddle Thin Mints this year!!! I’m going to see if I can share your blog entry with my troop peeps. Thanks again.

  27. As a proud former Girl Scout, it hurts my heart to see the organization making such confusing decisions that, as you pointed out, seem to directly contradict the organization’s values. I applaud you for asking the tough questions and for teaching your daughter to do the same. Hopefully this can be resolved!

  28. I am a leader and my own daughters opt out of the cookie business for many reasons including this one. It makes me sad that an organization that my girls love ( thus my leadership) tries to market this fundraiser as an opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills when we see only 60 cents at the troop level. I am patiently waiting for the day when they’ve had enough and we can move on to bigger and brighter things.

  29. We did GS from 2nd to 9th grade. Cookie sales are really bizarre. The council also forbids outside fundraising as they want GS to focus on cookie sales!! I always hated cookie sales and think that an overhaul is needed. Good luck, Jenny!

  30. Please get on the Boyscouts as well. My son is a cubscout and I swear he makes more money just asking for donations rather than selling the overpriced Boyscout Popcorn. When I ask why he needs to sell it, I’m told it will help him “build character”. His parents are both smartasses. The kid already has it in spades. Just saying!

  31. My daughter and I would like to join the What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club. Is there an age limit? My daughter is 24. However, she does have her own transportation that seats 7, so field trips to Dr. Who marathons are covered.

    Please let us know ASAP. I will need time to sew uniforms, as the only ones I can find in a size to fit a 24 year old, are simultaneously and inexplicably both too high and too low-cut, and sold by a girl’s uniform store called The Love Pantry. Go figure. Anyway, I think it’s best if we design our own.

  32. Mu oldest just became a Faisy this past year as she was finally old enough to be a Girl Scout and was trying to figure out the digital cookie sales myself. After reading this, am truly not wasting my time. I am big on doing most online, but this certainly isn’t worth it. Thanks seriously and you definitely said a mouthful here!

  33. Don’t know why you cant get a straight answer to what seems to be perfectly reasonable questions. $11= for postage. That’s about £9.00 UK
    Sorry that with the additional costs, I’d ne telling mu grandkids, who attend cubs here would ne told to bake me some on their next visit. Off course we would discuss, like you have with H the reason why we weren’t happy to pay out.

    Keep the pressure up these q’s need an answer.

  34. Great letter! This is crazy. I was able to go to camp one year because of my cookie sales. There’s no way I would have been able to attend otherwise. I then worked at the camp as a teenager. Great memories. Hate to think other girls will miss out on the experience of going to camp and/or being a camp counselor. Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention, Jenny & Hailey!

  35. As a lifetime Girl Scout member with her Gold Award. I’m embarrassed about the cookie crap and the financial mess. I truly hope you and your daughter stay with the Girl Scouts despite stupid shit like this, ’cause scouting is damn fun. I obviously learned how to cuss like a sailor while learning sailing, know how to start a fire with twigs and a rock, and have moves MacGyver couldn’t pull off. All those mad skills would be awesome in the zombie apocalypse wars, just saying.

  36. Definitely good questions that we were wondering as well. My daughter, Krysta, is a Cadet level Girl Scout and last year we choose to forgo cookie sales because the scholarships were less helpful to low income families of girls than previous years. It seems though we work harder to get less each year and that is sad. I hope your letter reaches the right people.

  37. Even with your “Knock Knock Motherfucker” mentality, you are able to present a completely AWESOME & LOGICAL piece to the Girl Scouts of America. I was shocked at the information you presented about their financial fiasco. Seems like the online buying is nothing short of “TicketMaster Trickery” – sell the item at retail and jack up the prices for shipping and convenience fees.

    Good luck with your letter. Looking forward to their response. Keep us posted!!

  38. Me again. I’m glad to see that everyone else has as much trouble with their council as I do. Now, if GSUSA said they were going to spend that money on straightening out councils, I’d pimp those cookies like Suge Knight on a weed bender.

    (And yes, I’ve been treated poorly by my council as well. I got a stern “talking to” and a “letter in my file” because I allegedly was disparaging someone under my breath at a leader meeting. To which I responded, “You must be mistaken. I do all of my disparaging of total strangers way above my breath. If I was being mean, you would have heard it.” Then like a year ago, they had the nerve to tell me that I was more than welcome at leader meetings, and should attend them regularly. I was all like, “Really? Why would I willingly and voluntarily subject myself to being accused of things I didn’t do just to find out that you’re implementing policies that are stupid, meaningless, and don’t actually solve any problems?” Needless to day, I still don’t go. Makes it easier to claim ignorance when ignoring said stupid policies…..)

    Sorry for the digression.

  39. I’m a long time leader for GS and I cannot agree with you more about the pension issues.

    As far as shipping costs are concerned, this isn’t being handled at the National level (from what I’ve been told). A person at your local level needs to select the cookies and ship them. People from our local GS office went to the post office and showed us pictures of actual shipping costs. The costs using online ordering are close to actual shipping costs, then handling for the staff member’s time. As far as the costs for online and having a Girl Scout deliver or the additional cost if the customer wants to order cookies for Soldiers (Operation Gratitude we call it), I find them outrageous!

    I’m going to do what I always do, ship the cookies myself.

  40. Yeah, it is pretty much a racket, and a poorly run one at that. I haven’t bought GS cookies in a few years, instead sometimes I’ll drop a dollar in their jar when they’re outside the grocery store. I have two sons, and lord knows the boy scouts have their problems, but fundraising was at least local without so many large corporate leeches siphoning off their cuts. I’ll be curious to see what response you get, if any.

  41. I’m a former Girl Scout (all the years I could be one) and GS leader and GS cookie mom (the person with all the cookies in her living room..and dining room…and hallway). I like many of the values that GS teaches girls, but I don’t need to eat cookies. Instead, when a GS wants to sell me cookies, I happily donate money directly to her troop. The girls get my money for their programs and outings, and I remain cookie-free. I know that leaves the council (and therefore the camps) out, so it’s not a perfect solution, but it seems fair to the girl who gave me the sales pitch.

  42. Extremely low return of funds to the troop level was why I, as a troop leader back in the now ancient times of the 1980s, did not put heavy focus on cookie sales as a fundraiser.
    We did sell cookies but our focus was booth sales skills and learning to market those cookies in person and handle cash the kind of things one can use later on in life.
    Our real fundraiser was running the 4-H snack Bar at the local fair! The 4-H owned the building and ran it during other events but were too busy during fair time to be there…we made BANK!
    Took the entire troop Whale watching, to the state capitol and then to Washington D.C. this way over the years and learned a lot in the process.
    Cookies are traditional and have a small place at the table, I look forward to hearing the reply to your letter as I have asked these sorts questions for years myself.
    The entire mail order shipping fee is counter productive IMO.

  43. We recently left Girl Scouts due to some questionable practices from our local troop leaders. I’m very interested to know how this issue ends up!

  44. Thanks, Jenny, for bringing this up. Even before recent changes, only a minor portion of the money went to Girl Scout activities; most of it goes to the companies that make and distribute the cookies. Although I loved selling cookies when I was a kid, and was the cookie mom for my daughter’s troop, the further along my kids got in school, the more baffled I became as to why we let companies use our kids as their unpaid sales forces. Kids are asked to sell everything under the sun so that a few cents can go to a school or activity. The ones who really benefit from this practice are the adults running the companies–not our kids.

  45. There’s no way you can look at the face of the little Girl Scout standing at your door trying to sell you cookies and say, “Sorry, I don’t want to fund the pensions at headquarters.” This has long been troublesome — too much money goes somewhere else and not enough is spent at home. Please let us know what kind of response you receive (if any). BTW, I got a traffic ticket for making a left turn I wasn’t supposed to make and had to pay a fine of $128. Only $12 of that fine stayed in our community, the rest went to the state, so my little city can’t even cover the policeman’s pay if he has to go to court over the ticket. Or his pay for sitting at the corner waiting for traffic villains like me. Which is why no one pays attention to speed limits any more. Which is a whole nother problem. Happy new year!

  46. THIS is why I was in boy scouts. (Well, not really!)

    Well, sort of. My Dad was a troop leader back in Nova Scotia, and my brother was a boy scout. SO, I was allowed to tag along to all the meetings, participate in all the stuff, even went to a jamboree (not that I remember it).
    Mom TRIED to get me in girl scouts after that, but it was baking and girly stuff, not camping and rough housing, so, I quit after about 2 months. LOL

    Boy scouts was MUCH more fun (for me.)

  47. I hope you get an answer, those are great questions, I have 2 girl scouts and was a former leader and the council we are in chose not to do online sales, maybe that is because of the crazy shipping costs or something. But would love to hear there response 🙂

  48. My daughter was a Girl Scout and attended Girl Scout summer camp. I was her troop leader, and cookie mom. I hated cookie sale time. I hated cookie sales with unbridled passion. The only reason I continued was because I knew that the cookie sale money went toward camp maintenance and scholarships. The time that my daughter spent at camp, the joy she spoke of, the challenges she dealt with, the awesome examples set by camp counselors, made it all worth it to me. We have not been in Girl Scouts for several years. I had no idea the camps were suffering. That fact saddens me. I hope your letter gets a real response. Girl Scouts, Girl Scout Volunteers (Troop Leaders, etc.) and Girl Scout Camps Rule! GSA sucks.

  49. I don’t really know much about the Girl Scouts other than I like the cookies but there is no way in hell I would pay $15 dollars for a box.

    I want in on the “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club” because that sounds awesome.

  50. This is all kinds of awesome. And opens my eyes a bit: just assumed monies went to the girl’s programs, not pensions. Rethinking the cookie order.

  51. As a former Girl Scout and 12 year leader (for 4 of those years with two troops), I’ve come to believe that a very large portion of GS decisions are not well thought through, and that the biggest push is for numbers over quality. Numbers of scouts, numbers of dollars. When my now 24 year old daughter was 10, selling 1000 boxes of cookies earned her about two free weeks of (already reasonably priced) camp, plus money for the troop to pay for activities, camping, badges, Abe trips to savannah and New York. 5 years later, camp prices nearly doubled (so they could offer scholarships to underprivileged girls – a worthy goal) and cookies got you way less toward camp, and though cookie prices went up twice, the troop portion (and council portion) went down. About this time, programming was changed based on asking non-GSs what they wanted out of scouts, rather than focusing on what current Scouts wanted). All so that they could attract new girls. My oldest made it through Seniors, but with the changes, my youngest stopped after 6th grade. While it was hard after the years of commitment, I let her.

    I say hooray to you and Hailey for voicing your concerns!

  52. FIFTEEN dollars a box after shipping costs? WTF. Apparently the girl scouts need to hook up with Amazon Prime. Good for you on writing that letter (and asking extremely well thought out questions). I hope you get some answers that aren’t from a form letter.

  53. I wondered this years ago. Oh the smack down! Personally I left, never let my daughter get involved as the group here, well eww gross, and no one Ever has answers! Girl Scouts king long ago lost it’s luster. I feel now they are simply trying to float what looks like a hedge fund under a good name. Kinda like Goodwill…look up there ‘creds’. Just sayin

  54. I remember when the cookies were only $1 per box, had more than a dozen cookies in said box and tasted better. I agree with your questions and hope you get some answers for your concerns.

  55. Dear Jenny,

    You are my HERO. Also, when you create Haley’s club, can I get in on that? Because that sounds amazing.

    Stay strong Hailey and Jenny!! You’re doing the right thing!


  56. That’s a fine letter. All of the questions are entirely reasonable things to be asking, and all are well-framed. I hope the answers you receive in return are of equal quality.

  57. I don’t know what their answer will be, but because I work for an online business, I can tell you that, yes, the $1.25 is probably a credit card processing fee, and yes, shipping is generally way more expensive than people think (because many online retailers “hide” the cost of shipping in the cost of the product, which they clearly cannot do with Girl Scout Cookies).

  58. Please be sure to give us an update if you receive a response. I didn’t realize that the troops received such a small percentage of sales. This reminds me of one of those big breast cancer charities that only gives 20% (approximately) out of it’s huge budget to actual research.

    Anyway, one of the Girl Scout cookie factories is in my town. I always wondered if it wouldn’t be possible to break into the factory and get the cookies weeks in advance. Not that I condone crime of course…

  59. I hand them twenty bucks and make them promise to keep me away from the cookies. Especially Do-si-dos. They’re crack to me.

  60. I don’t know how your council and baker are running online sales this year, but ours (another texas council), you are only allowed to buy online in 6 box intervals or an 8 box variety pack. So shipping isn’t 11.25 for a single box its for 6 boxes, or slightly more for the 8box, 12 box. I’ve never heard of the 1.25 fee but that seems silly to me. If the troop has a way to take credit cards it is a much better option to take manual orders an deliver to your customers as you normally would. Your troop leader or cookie parent should be able to answer these questions for you or send you to the correct person within your service unit or council to be informed. As a mom I feel you pain on making sure the girls are informed on the proceeds f the sale as well as ensuring that the money goes where it should.

    Good luck 🙂 feel free to email me maybe we can track down some anSwers

  61. My son and I were wondering if we could join the “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club” or at least start an Inland Northwestern U.S. Chapter? We even have All Hail the Glow Cloud Tshirts and know all the Doctor Who episodes from the ninth doctor on…

  62. I’m glad you wrote that – I hope you’ll get some answers and share them with us! They closed our Red Rock camping facility a couple years ago, and our Cookieland camp ground is underused, falling into disrepair. I was not aware of the extortionally high shipping cost of online cookie sales – SOMEONE (not the Post Office) is making some big bux off that because shipping a whole case of cookies would barely cost that much, let alone a box. I’m glad now that Becca did not go back to Girl Scouts this year — sounds like it’s becoming a corporate scam rather than what it was intended to be. 🙁 BOOOOOOOO.

  63. And for anyone talking about Amazon’s shipping practices, please keep in mind that they are the largest online retailer and can get huge discounts on shipping due to the sheer volume of items they are shipping. These discounts are not available to a smaller retailer or a non-profit organization like the Girl Scouts.

  64. Well stated, and I hope they see at least some light and you two get some answers.

    But even if they do and you do, can you please make your own club too? My daughter and I both want to join.


  65. Also, both my daughter and I were hoping to join the Dr. Who/Zombiepocalypse club. We will happily pay dues. I think taxidermy should be worth at least 3 types of badges.

  66. Another GS leader here, and I just posted your questions to our local Council’s Facebook page. Hoping for some good answers to your great questions. I believe in the GS mission, and that’s why I have been involved for 15 years as a leader (I trudge through because my girls love it), but often struggle with the regulations, requirements, practices, bureaucracy and, quite simply, nonsense.

  67. Well done! You’re setting such an awesome example for your daughter by taking these people to task. Not everyone knows about what’s happening. The funds should be going towards the troop and hiding the fact that they aren’t is underhanded and deceitful. That letter is fantastic!

  68. Definitely makes me re-think buying cookies, not that I need them anyway.

    I absolutely recommend 4-H. It’s not just about showing animals and cooking. I learned a lot of skills that still help me today. Not that Girl Scouts doesn’t do the same, I just don’t have any experience with them personally.

  69. This and other GS related insanity is why we switched over to 4 H, where I became a co-leader. It is a whole hell of a lot less hassle and the leaders are treated like intelligent and rational adults . Plus we have more options of how to run and host clubs. Also, I have a boy and a girl. GS meant I had to drive one child to a thing one night and then find a thing for the other kid another night. The hell with that. Everyone is welcome at 4 H and we can do carpentry together and quilting together and archery together and there is none of this Badge bullshit or any worry that a kid who is gay will be told they can’t join in and do fun stuff too. I like things that are Inclusive, and to be treated like a functioning adult with her own mind. 4 H FTW .

  70. Love this. I was in scouts through HS, and spent most of my summers first as a camper, then a junior counselor, and finally a counselor. I was also the only GS in my high school, so cookie selling was quite easy because I just sold to my classmates. It was a great experience, but even then they had started closing camps in my area, and I could see that “my” camp needed some serious upgrading. I hadn’t realized how dire the situation is now – all I’ve noticed is the incredible increase in the prices we the consumer are paying for the cookies (in 1999 I was selling them for $2.50 per box; now they’re something like $4, even without shipping). As an adult, I also realize just how much the boy scouts focus on the outdoors skills and how little exposure I had to them as a girl scout. There’s so many good things about the organization, but there’s also a great deal of room for improvement in all areas…

  71. So good. I needed to hear this for my own self/situation. I’m well past the age and interest of being in girl scouts, but I had this sudden sense of urgency to get involved, and I can’t even eat the cookies due to a gluten intolerance, but even I was like “LOWER THE PRICE OF THE DAMN COOKIES!” May justice prevail and the odds be ever in your favor.

  72. Thank you for not only asking these questions but making the rest of us aware of these (potential) issues as well. If so little will actually be going to programmes for girls, I’ll not be getting any. That shipping cost is extreme. I know my sister-in-law paid less than that to ship cookies from my nieces to us in Canada. Someone is racking up “handling” fees on top of the real shipping costs.

  73. Excellent questions. Though there is an important third question that needs to be asked:

    1. When will the ingredients for Girl Scout Cookies be changed to remove High Fructose Corn Syrup? That substance is responsible for the obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemics in the United States, and no one should be eating it ever, especially not young people. I was a Girl Scout myself, but I have been unable to support my local Girl Scouts since I swore off HFCS a few years ago.
  74. Good for you!!! Girl Scouts has become greedy in my opinion. My daughter recently quit because, at her Bronze awards ceremony, they spent about fifteen minutes giving out all of the bronze/silver/gold awards. Then we sat through an HOUR of awards and back patting for adults who worked for the council. She was upset that they didn’t make nearly as big of a deal that the girls did amazing things for their community as they did because people (some of whom got paid like it was their job or something) helped run the council. When did Scouts stop being about the GIRLS and start becoming about bragging for your volunteer work or doing your damn JOB!? There was much more lead up to our decision to leave, much of it including cookie sales and many things like those you mentioned, but that was the last straw. It’s becoming more of a business than they’ll admit, and they’re no longer focusing on doing good for the girls, at least not at the council level in the two towns we’ve participated in. It’s sad…

  75. $11.25 for shipping on a box of cookies?! Please tell me that’s a flat rate whether I order 1 box or, like, a truckload. Seriously, I just ordered a 400lb infrared sauna on Amazon and my shipping is exactly $0. If they can ship me a 400lb sauna for nothing, I’m sure they can figure out a way to ship cookies for $5 or so.

  76. I had no idea the camps were suffering, and honestly, that flatly sucks because I had some of the best times of my life at GS camp (all paid for with those sweet, sweet cookie sales)! Also, $11.25 shipping? I’ve paid less to ship a 100lb box of stuff across country (and most of it arrived intact!); if you don’t get a good answer, I will HAPPILY join your Dr. Zombie McNightvale club. If we role play? Dibs on Cecil.

  77. I now feel a lot less guilt about not trying very hard to sell Girl Scout Cookies when I was a Brownie 30 years ago. Thanks for the free therapy!

  78. Also, we shipped 25 boxes of cookies last year for just over $18. So they’re raping you on shipping for sure!

  79. I think unfortunately that when the Girl Scouts connected with Nestle, they lost some credibility with me. A corporation with very little values should not be endorsed by an organization that is supposed to be all about helping young women develop their own values. Thank you Jenny for seeing the importance here and bringing it up despite the fact that it isn’t what anyone wants to think about–we all want to embrace scouts & the history of what it means to us as individuals. But, if nobody is willing to hold these groups accountable, our kids will be a part of things we wouldn’t be proud of.

  80. Wait, what? PENSIONS??? Funded by cookies??? And what good is closing camps going to do, when you don’t have enough places for potential future GS to go to? Then there will be no more kids getting into GS if there’s no place to do things, and consequently, no more kids to operate cookie sales to fund the pensions. Maybe they should re-think their pension investment plan.

    Well-written letter. Hope you get some answers.

  81. I want to know how much revenue goes directly to the BOY SCOUTS when they sell items for their organization. Because that could further support gender inequality arguments. I’d also like to know why they have to dip in to the cookie money when I can’t walk down an aisle at the grocery store without finding some Girl Scout endorsed product. I call shenanigans.

  82. I imagine they’ll all be out of the office until Monday. Can’t wait to hear the response you get. Keep us informed! (Here in NJ we don’t have our “cookie mom” meeting until 1/6 and the selling starts after that. I haven’t even been able to get anyone to be our cookie mom with begging. Stuck with the job myself. UGH!)

  83. Totally sign me up for the What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club because that sounds awesome. Fundraising opportunities would be much cooler too. Hope you get the answers you’re looking for and keep us updated!

  84. Well now I’m having a moral dilemma. Based on everything I learned just now, I don’t feel like buying cookies is a worthwhile cause. By on the other hand…. They’re just so good and over been waiting all year for them!
    First world problems for sure.
    Excellent letter Jenny, way to educate others in your quest for answers!

  85. Can I join/help with the What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club? I’m good with crafting.

  86. And this is one of the many reasons that it saddens me that Spiral Scouts doesn’t have more of a membership.

  87. Jenny,

    Awesome job reaching out to them. It sucks that this is the only way you can reach out to them and, hopefully, get a response. My husband and I have been discussing Girl Scouts because of our daughter and we can’t in good faith support them with the methods they’re employing to do business. Now, don’t get me wrong, if a little girl comes up to our door and wants us to buy cookies, we will 100% support her. But unless they get their act together, we will not be joining the Girl Scout family.

    Much love to you and your family for being such an amazing voice!

  88. Hello! I am Elizabeth (Betsy) from the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana. I am a Member-Volunteer and Trainer there. I am also the founder of the Outdoor Journey Project. We are wanting more official Outdoor Program back in Girl Scouting. About your posting: you may want to write directly to the GSUSA National Board and CEO also because they might not see this Open Letter. I hope you get some answers this way or another way. I liked the idea of using the USPS instead of another shipping service and saving money. I also hope we can all wrap our minds around the debt problem we may have soon nationally and in some councils too. I will bookmark this to come back again.

    (I sent a link to the CEO and told her I’d love to have her feedback. Thanks! ~ Jenny)

  89. I’m glad I’m not the only one with council issues. Both my girls were in the GS and I was cookie mom for 8 years. The last year of service, I had a huge problem with one of the girl’s in the troop’s sales and got NO support from our local council. After many ignored emails and phone calls I basically told them that they were a bunch of pimps, whoring out the girls to pay for their admin costs. That finally got a reply,but their answer was pretty much “too bad,so sad.” The troop leader was wonderful, but I pulled my kid out shortly after.

  90. You, as always, rock! I don’t do GS cookies on principle – as explained in your concerns. I tell the cookie sellers that I do not support the cookies but I give them a cash donation. Even $1 is more than they would get from a box of cookies, even if I was inclined to buy them. Happy New Year, Jenny!!! Thanks for being you, you anxiety ridden, depressed angel compatriot, you!

  91. After dealing with with Boy Scouts for 12 plus years, I have found the best way to support the local troops was to donate money directly to the Troop. I always felt the same way about popcorn sales. It’s a scam. The councils can’t take donated money away from the troops. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, pay for a scout’s dues for a year who can’t do so themselves or buy equipment they may need and “donate” that. The councils for both boy and girl scouts have got to start listening or soon there won’t be any kids left who will join and their jobs will just disappear. Imagine that.

  92. I wonder if this is why Camp Fire Girls pretty much doesn’t exist any more.

    I do hope you get some answers – FWIW, it sounded like a perfectly rational, polite, and sane letter to me.

  93. I just sent a message to the national headquarters suggesting they get on this. Here’s what I told them: “Hi! I hope someone from your media team is online tonight or tomorrow – The Bloggess has noted some problems with the online cookie sales and other sales and I HIGHLY recommend that someone contact her. Have you seen some of her other successful media campaigns? The Girls Scouts definitely wants to have a positive experience with her followers. Her current blog post is below – it is also posted to her Facebook website…and for the record, I’m a lifetime Girl Scout (with a Gold Award under my belt) and I think she’s got some really valid points here.” I hope you hear back from someone soon…and I hope it ends positively as I am a lifetime GS and I do believe the organization is one of the best leadership organizations for girls in the world…

  94. WAIT!!! Pension fund???? You mean there are people in that organization who get pensions? Hardly anyone gets a pension these days. (The company where my husband works stopped funding its pension plan 6 or 7 years ago.) When did the Girl Scouts get so big that the people at the top get to rake in pensions?

    I was kicked out of girl scouts as a teen, ostensibly for “not having the proper girl scout attitude.” I guess nothing has changed after all these years because I still don’t have the proper girl scout attitude. It’s like the people at the top of that organiztion are pimping all those little girls, getting them to sell cookies and pay dues so that they can sit behind desks, make all the rules, and collect their salaries AND pensions.

    I think all those little girls would do far better if they joined your “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club.”

  95. Jennifer, and direct donation of $30 or more goes to council; the troop isn’t allowed to keep it.

  96. If this helps (found on the Girl Scout website FAQs):
    How can I be sure that Girl Scout Cookie Program revenue supports the local Girl Scouts in my community?

    All of the revenue earned from cookie activities—every penny after paying the baker—stays with the local Girl Scout council. Each council determines its own revenue structure depending on its cookie cost, local retail price, and the amount that is shared with participating troops and groups. On average, Girl Scout council net revenue is approximately 65–75 percent of the local retail price, and the amount that is shared with participating Girl Scout troops and groups, referred to as troop proceeds, is approximately 10–20 percent of the local retail price. Cookie program revenue is a critical source of funding for local Girl Scout councils, and it is often what makes it possible to serve girls in hard-to-serve areas, and maintain camps and properties.

    Girl Scout troops and groups must pool their proceeds to pay for program supplies, activities, and group travel. Girl Scouts may not earn proceeds as individuals; however, Girl Scout councils offer a wide variety of recognition items, program- and store-related credits, and travel experiences that girls are eligible to earn individually based on their sales. All troop proceeds and other rewards earned through participation in the Girl Scout Cookie Program must be used to enhance each girl’s Girl Scout experience.

    Does any of the money from cookie sales go to Girl Scouts of the USA (the national Girl Scout organization)?

    Girl Scouts of the USA is paid a royalty by its licensed bakers for use of Girl Scout trademarks based on gross annual sales. Girl Scout councils do not provide any portion of their cookie revenue to Girl Scouts of the USA, and no other revenue from cookie sales goes to Girl Scouts of the USA.

    Girl Scouts of the USA provides contractual services and approves all program, marketing, and sales materials developed by the bakers. GSUSA also provides coordination and training for national media activities, safety standards for girls and volunteers, our world-renowned girl-leadership program, and full support during cookie season.

    (That’s all fairly accurate, I think. The local girl scout councils get most of the profit. The big national girl scout offices make money with royalties and licensing. The issue is that starting tomorrow the majority of local girl scout councils will have to start paying for the pension deficit and so a lot of the money they might have been able to spend on community projects, camps, scholarships will be sucked up by pension fees. The troops receive a small amount, but I think most girls were fine with this because they thought the larger portion was going to help other girls, but I’m not sure that’s a valid assumption anymore. ~ Jenny)

  97. This is my first year as a Daisy Scout leader, and I had no idea this was going on. We start selling cookies in Northern California on 2/1, and I really hope to get these questions answered before then. Please keep us posted!

  98. Now I wish there had been a “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club”. It sounds like a lot more fun than Boy Scouts ever was.

  99. Oh way to go girls! Get those answers! My daughter decided to quit Girl Scouts for cookie reasons (Well, this was one of the many we discussed). Try to NOT sell cookies and see what Council says! That was rough, She had just completed her Bronze, and both her brothers are Eagle Scouts. The decision was tough, but between cookie sales and some moral issues she had with the Girl Scouts, we both quit.

  100. Are they trying to deter people from buying cookies online with that shipping price? Like they half assed it because they don’t really want to do it but are trying to pretend to care about being able to sell on line. (I would not buy online if I was going to be gouged that much on shipping. It’s ridiculous.) I hope you get some answers.

  101. I had no idea the GS were so corrupt..that’s exactly what this sounds like. I wasn’t a GS and I will make sure my granddaughters don’t become GSs either. How terrible. Fund your pension plan another way instead of child/slave labor. How dare they??

  102. I was a Field Director for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital and while every council is different, their main priority is keeping the camps well-maintained as well as programming for the girls. Cookie sales does help with salaries, but also contributes to financial aid for any girl looking to join a troop (includes dues, uniform sash/vest, books, field trips) and full financial aid for girls who want to attend a camp but can’t afford it. Some Councils have had to make decisions to sell property to keep afloat, but it’s not due of pensions — which I hadn’t heard of nor was a part of.

    I love that you’re asking questions, deciding what’s best for Hailey and your family (a lot of families opt out of sales), and kicking a little green butt when needed. Good luck with your Bronze Award, Hailey!

    (Thanks! And I love that you commented because I think this is the main problem I have. The council have always been focused on doing great things for girls and maintaining camps but so few people are aware of the changes starting tomorrow regarding council budgets and deficit issues. If people don’t know about what the changes will mean then we aren’t making good decisions about how we spend our money. I don’t even understand fully but I know enough from the Girl Scouts website that there is a problem. It’s disheartening but maybe it will lead to change or to some good answers. ~ Jenny)

  103. Do they not sell the calendars anymore? I always encouraged my girls to sell the crap out of those because we got 50% of the cost. Not as exciting for the girls because there are not all the crap prizes but for a 3.50 pocket calendar we would receive 1.75 of that. We would have to sell 7 boxes of Cookies to earn the same money. I was a 1000 box seller when I was a kid to go to camp. But even our troop knew we were being exploited. Juliet Gordon Lowe would be appalled.

    (We don’t sell them here, but it sounds like it was a good deal. Less fattening, at least. ~ Jenny)

  104. I was really looking forward to using the online shopping option because all of our family live far away, but $11.25 for shipping?? That is crazy. I simply can’t ask that of them.

  105. I’m very glad you’re sending this.

    But at least it’s not BSA. The GSA may be doing stupid things with money but at least they’re not a morally bankrupt organization that promotes (mandates) intolerance.

  106. By all means, let the GSA weasel out of its commitment to the people who accepted lower wages in exchange for a solid pension. The girls need to learn early that they can lie with impunity & that commitments are meaningless when you can get lawmakers to change the rules.

  107. Preach! Thank you for addressing this!
    I am on the board of a non-profit formed to try to save a 70 year old GS camp when the council decided to sell it to developers. We succeeded! #camplittlenotch
    But most camps just go away, and take with them the opportunity for girls to have that amazing camping experience that builds confidence and lifetime friendships. GS corporate structure needs a huge overhaul, and they need to put the scouting back into Girl Scout!
    Thank you!

  108. Website development & maintenance, credit card processing, and package handling & shipping services are all handled by outside entities (NOT the Girl Scout ) and those services cost money. So, when you purchase online, the customer takes on the responsibility of incurring the extra costs so that it doesn’t come out of the girl’s incentives or troop’s/service unit’s portion of the sale. Girl Scout cookies sales has always been and still is encouraged to be a face-to-face interaction (thus no extra fees). However, there are some people who are not able to order in person from a girl (such as home-bound & rural customers or simply customers who live in towns without Girl Scouts). These generous folks are willing to pay the little extra to have the cookies delivered directly to their home while helping a Girl Scout earn money for their Girl Scouting experience. If you are selling to grandma, then call her on the phone to get her order and ship them to her directly with a hand-written thank you note; don’t make her go through the on-line ordering system and extra fees.

  109. It seems the Girl Scout council has been working on their ‘Lets fuck up the Girl Scouts” badge.
    And the fact that the CEO referred you elsewhere is scandalous.
    Back in the day cookies were $1.00 per box and the troop kept 50 cents!!! The leaders and local council were all volunteers and considered this a fundraiser…FOR US !!!
    I am so glad you are taking them to task Jenny.
    I am sad.
    Happy New Year.

  110. Please update us if you get a response. I have always been a big supporter of the girl scouts (even though I was kicked out of the brownies after 1 meeting). However, if they can’t provide a satisfactory answer about the closing of camps and the loss of scholarships, I will not be buying cookies and I will be sure my family doesn’t buy as well.

  111. okay I read this it seems she going about her complaint in all the wrong ways. first if you have a problem you go to the leader. if that does not work you go to the council of your troop, ours is warren county. there you are given in our case to cc and karen. cc is over leaders and girls, and karen is over cookies. if that does not work then you go to our president she is over the whole council. I have never had any problems that karen or mrs. beckey could not fix. not sure about the cookies shipping online being that much I will ask Karen. It is due to weight and where you are shipping. The cookies are $4.00 here in warren county but higher in other areas. so not sure where she is that cookies are only 4, because we are the cheapest. There is no fee from what I can see. Also they have a full answer and question that she has not read. bottom line is this women seems to be angry with out really talking to any of the people in charge of her area.
    Girl Scout Cookies | Frequently Asked Questions
    Girl scouts since 1985 and leader/ former cookie chair

    (Your comment confused the hell out of me but I’m going to respond since you say you’re the former cookie chair. We’ve contacted our cookie manager, our council, Girl Scouts, the CEO, etc. but I haven’t had anyone address the pension issue. Now I’m sending an open letter to anyone who wants to respond because I want an answer before cookies go on sale for us tomorrow. Also, cookies are lots of different prices depending on where you are. They are $3.50 in some parts of Texas. They are $5 in other parts of America. Please remind me what we’re fighting about. ~ Jenny)

  112. I agree that you and every scout parent should ask these questions and you should get answers. I’m concerned that thousands of people will read these questions and, as often happens on the Internet, use them as a source of misinformation and jump to conclusions, which will spin into outrage, and then the memes will begin. So, I hope the answers are clear and get well disemminated so the misinformation getting out there is minimized. I already see comments along the lines of “Girl Scouts is too greedy” which have no factual basis. There is no call for rage against GSUSA unless and until it has been shown they’ve done something wrong.
    As for me, I am a scout leader, but I am just a volunteer and have no authority or information anyone else wouldn’t have. As for the pension question, I have no info or comment. About the cookie questions, I have been told a few things that might put perspective on this. Caveat- this is heresay, take this with a grain of salt!
    Shipping charge: Council is not profiting from shipping. The cookies will be shipped from the baker. The baker is charging a handling fee to pay for the manpower to sort, box, label, etc., as well as for the boxing supplies. Add to that the actual postage. I can’t say whether $10 or $11 for one box is excessive or not, but I can say that the situation is not as simple as putting a stamp on a box of cookies and dropping it in the mailbox, so obviously it will be more expensive than that would be.
    Order fees: Every box ordered (and therefore paid for) online will include an extra fee. This is the credit card fee. If someone orders cookies from your girl online, but chooses in person delivery, they must pay for them online with their credit card, and pay that online processing credit card fee. Council does not profit from this fee, it goes to the website people to pay the banking fees. If someone doesn’t want to pay this fee, they don’t need to use the website, they can call or email the scout their order directly, then pay cash in person when she delivers.

    This is the first year for online cookie sales nationwide. All of us are new to it, and there will be questions and problems to iron out. But no one expects online orders to account for a large share of the cookie sales. Girls will still sell the majority of their cookies in person, as usual. The vision for online sales is to allow a convenient method of selling to out-of-town friends and relatives. Online sales by girls are not open to the public. So the idea isn’t to be super affordable. Just convenient.

    Does any of this help answer some questions?

    (Fabulous comment. My daughter loves the girl scouts and I’m there at every meeting and sometimes even lead them. Next month I’ll be sleeping on the floor of NASA for a Girl Scout lock-in. The troop is phenomenal and the girls are amazing. That’s why I want the organization to be as upstanding and respected as the girls in it. I tried multiple ways to get an answer behind the scenes because I want the Girl Scouts to succeed and don’t want to give any opportunity to hamper that, but I think it’s important to ask tough questions and this is my only other option. If it was anything else I would had written about it without trying to get answers that made sense first. I believe we have to hold our organizations to the same accountability we hold our girls and we do a disservice to them by not. I agree completely though that the Girl Scouts can be amazing and I’ll admit that I was not a fan at all until I started watching her troop and seeing the amazing work the girls do for each other and for their community. Those girls changed my mind about the organization. I just want the organization to be worthy of the girls and I think we can do better. Thanks again for your comment! It was really lovely. ~ Jenny)

  113. I’m a troop leader for a multilevel group and my biggest beef with this is that if our troop decides that cookie sales aren’t in our best interest we are not allowed to conduct any other fundraising. At least in our council.

  114. I was Cookie Mom of my daughter’s troop for 2 years about 12 years ago. Never again. The troop leader and treasurer hid the money one year and absconded with it the next year and I had the local council harassing me for the money until I proved to them that I had turned the cookie money over to the bitc—uhhh the treasurer. I love and adore Thin Mints but what GSA is doing now is so very wrong on all levels.

  115. I loved your letter. It was awesome….instead of cookies it would be easier to just ask for donations to go to camp. All the $ would go to the girls and I wouldn’t eat cookies.

  116. I was a cookie mom for years. The girl’s troop earns $.35 off each $4 box of cookies. You are better off giving the kid $4 in cash and skipping the whole charade of “fundraising.” It’s a sham.

  117. I want to support the GGs but I can’t buy the cookies. Have you read the ingredients. Yikes! Chocolaty coating??? The chocolate mint cookies contain no chocolate. Scary. Is there a way to donate directly to the GGs or by virtual cookies that are actually pictures of kittens and goats?

  118. Good for you! That is a wonderful letter! And if you start the doctor who club I have two members just waiting for the word go!

  119. I was a Girl Scout, earned my Gold, and later became a leader. That lasted 3 years. My troop was great until one girl joined and her mother decided she was going to be the top in cookie sales (mother, not daughter) and then tell me how to spend “her” money. I resigned at the end of that year. I never received any support from my council. I will buy at least a box of cookies from every girl who comes to my door, but I will not buy from the parents or online.

  120. Thank you!! I am a GS leader and am so conflicted about cookie sales. Due to some health issues, my daughter can’t eat the cookies and so I’m certainly not making her sell them. I was curious how I could just donate directly to the troop. I so wish we could do our own fundraiser but it’s not allowed. So sad.

  121. Wait, so… Girl Scout cookie sales are going towards paying the pensions of former GS Council employees?
    I don’t have a daughter (but love GS cookies and was a GS myself) … is this a known thing?
    Should there be a boycott? Maybe a kickstarter for troop expenses instead?

    (Not a fan of boycotts and the troops aren’t hurting for money. Most parents pay all the expenses and such. Most troops, like my daughters, sell because they think it’s fun and they like the idea of helping their community. The main issue is that as I understand it a portion of the money that used to go for at-risk girls, scholarships, camp maintenance, community stuff will now be going to pay off a pension deficit issue. I don’t know the details. That’s what I was hoping to get. ~ Jenny)

  122. Ok ugh. First off, this really gives me pause. I’m a leader for my daughter’s troop here in Chicago. And I will start by saying that please, please do not hate the GS’s because they really are great for a lot of girls who don’t have people in their lives to teach them community, acceptance, friendship and some other skills. For instance the other leader and I have made it our mission this yr with our 3rd graders to teach acceptance/friendship because we were hearing of too many little cliques amongst their grade and too many girls left out or treated horribly. Now we have a HUGE troop because no other parents can take one on so we have all these girls. So far our efforts are paying off. A couple girls who have socialization issues/were ostracised are now being more accepted by the other girls & they’re treating them kindly. Girl Scouts isn’t ALL about money & cookies.

    On to the cookies: Now I was under the idea that they were making closer to .75 cents per box these days. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot, no, but when you have a troop like ours we end up with a lot of money because some of girls are selling a couple hundred boxes or so. We do see a decent amount and we use it for special activities for our troop.

    As to the pension/cutting programs issue, this is the first I’m hearing of this. I just sent a link to your letter to my head leader to see if she’s heard of this as well. If this is true than what’s her name, the head GS lady is going to have a LOT to answer to. And you’re right, it’s unacceptable.

    But the dislike of the GS’s in general bothers me. I see so much good that was done over the years for these kids and so much good that can still be done, I don’t think this issue will go away quietly after this gets more press.

  123. Fabulous letter, really. As much as I like eating Girl Scout cookies, the troupes get far too little money for the work they do to sell them. Not to mention, wide disparities in how troupes are run means that many troupes will never see a campground. I left the scouts as a kidlet because, after seeing all the wicked cool stuff my brother did in Boy Scouts, I was frustrated that all we did in Girl Scouts was sell cookies.

  124. I hope the What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocalypse-Happened Prep Club will be co-ed. I know both of my kids will want to join.

  125. I was an avid Girl Scout Leader, supporter, cookie coordinator, camp leader, Caddie trainer…..I walked away from the organization when I was faced (quite rudely, by a council employee…whose pension I am now supposed to provide for by buying cookies?!?!?!) with the realization that the organization has shifted its focus from “what can we do for the girls”, to, “what can the girls do for us” I’m OUT.

  126. Since we are questioning GS cookie sales, I would like to know why there are different prices for different areas of the U.S. My friend, who lives in the NorthEast, her daughter’s troop was selling cookies for .50 more a box than we were selling here down south. Why?

  127. This is why our troop stopped selling cookies. You are better off finding out ways to raise troop funds.

  128. What Anne said in #78. You can’t buy single boxes of cookies (as I understand it). They are sold in multiple boxes (and you can’t even request different KINDS of boxes!) so the shipping prices are high. The shipping prices are ALREADY high though and (as an aside) FedEx and UPS rates are going up. When I tried to ship 5 boxes of cookies up north last year, the shipping was WAY more than $12 and that was in one of those USPS priority “all you can fit” boxes. Shipping sucks.

    I have no idea what pensions have to do with it though. And our camp ROCKS down here in Orange County, California. 🙂 However I have some of the same problems with council and other Moms that everyone else does… but that’s just a fact of human life. 🙂 I’m a leader, for the record, although I was a reluctant one at first but darn if I don’t love my girls! I’m a terrible crafter though…

    (So I couldn’t buy one box of each kind of girl scout cookies online? You have to buy a case? This is exactly what bothers me. Why isn’t this online and available somewhere so we could know the facts? It’s the confusion and vagueness that makes it seem questionable. ~ Jenny)

  129. Allthosethings: NO there should NOT be a boycott!! Only some councils start sales tomorrow, others get to wait one or two months. If you boycott now you are harming some troops, but not others, and you are not touching GSUSA because they do not benefit from cookie sales! If everyone boycotted cookie sales tomorrow then the only thing that would do is SHUT DOWN COUNCILS IN POOR AREAS!! Don’t do that!!

  130. This issue with the pensions has been going on for years as groups SUE the scouts to stop sales of camps, some of them historic and very high value. The GS claim they sell the camps because they aren’t performing well while those same under performing camps have wait lists for spots. The folks at HQ and council offices refuse to discuss the issue, without lawyers involved so sadly, no one is going to answer you. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get media to cover it and no one will touch the issue, again, because of their lawyers. Some troops across the country have tried boycotts but they don’t get much traction. I tell people to skip buying the cookies and give $20 to the troop leader for the girls.

  131. They replied to me online and said that they would be in touch when business hours resume…I hope that works for everyone for now…

  132. My 3 daughters are TOTALLY IN for the “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club”

  133. I think I am done buying girl scout cookies. Bravo to you and Hailey for asking the hard questions. I am avidly awaiting the GSA response.

  134. You go Jenny! All these should be transparent! I am a Cubmaster for Boy Scouts and we have the same problem with popcorn. I always tell the families that better yet, if someone doesn’t want to buy popcorn (or cookies) could they make a small donation instead? Then that money stays right in the group and council never sees it (oops did I say that outloud?)

  135. Our Cub Scouts receive 70 cents of every dollar raised that comes back to the council, district, and pack from our popcorn sales. It has paid for various activities my son has participated in over the past four years as a Cub Scout. I was a Girl Scout working in my Silver award when I had to quit due to school activities and work. I’m sad to see how little money from cookie sales comes back to the troops. I hope you get some answers Jenny! I loved GS horse back camp and hate to see camps like the one I attended being closed. My nieces are GS members and I support their fundraisers. However, I may just start giving them the money directly.

  136. And here’s a little background on the CEO’s outrageous spending and salary along with the story of her $65,000 toilet. And in case you’ve never pulled up your local council’s 501C tax reports online (which you can do) every council director makes about $120,000 a year. And there are 112 councils in the country.

  137. If I order something online and pay that much for shipping, I kind of expect it to be beamed directly to my house…

  138. Jenny
    Well said as I too had same concerns. Having been to 2 leader meetings, having 3 of my 4 girls attend camp, I question where the funds go. Obviously, these staff members are overpaid because our area GS didn’t offer any exciting programs and I found the camp to be run down. As I saw cost of cookies rise as the troop gets such a small portion. ..I gave my money directly to the troop so they got 100% vs several days walking house to house yo sell over 100 boxes gaining $40. I know it is supposed to teach being strong independent young ladies but I can teach my girls that in a much better productive way. There’s a reason why most girls only stay in GS for 2 or 3 years. Maybe they need to review all their programs and look at why and how boy scouts tend to stay in longer and are more successful. I always hear from friends who have boys that they at least stay in til 13 or 15. My girls were out by age 8. Sad.

  139. Great letter Jenny. Let us know if you get any answers – even bad ones.
    To Danielle/#25 – Years ago I had the exact same problem with the Boy Scouts for my son who had disabilities. We turned elsewhere. Good luck with the group your daughter is in.

  140. I had someone tell me she wouldn’t buy cookies fro me years ago because they supported abortion. I was 9 and had no clue what she was talking about ( I digress- this is for the lady who said no one could say no -just saying ;0).
    That said, I’m a leader of 10 years with 2 scouts ( 2 troops) and we are not bothering to sell cookies this year. It’s just too much trouble and work to justify the time and effort. I’d trace it back to when they started messing with the dates and started before Christmas, then moved to New Years . Like everyone in the world doesn’t start a budget AND a diet on New Year’s Day. It makes me sad as I was a scout many moons ago and am disappointed at the bureaucracy. Good for you for supporting your daughter. And I’d sign up for the Dr who group too, sounds like a blast!

  141. Can I link to this on my facebook page? I plan on supporting a friend’s daughters by buying cookies, however, I do not like the idea of my money going to benefit someone else’s wallet. If an organization cannot be transparent with their money and its allocations, then that is a BIG problem. Also, the fact that the CEO just blew you off and referred you to someone else with your valid questions reeks of shadiness.

  142. I work for a large GS Council myself – my team of 3 council employees oversees about 1000 registered Girls plus leaders. We are a small piece of a large council. I haven’t heard anything about pensions or deficits. I also don’t think I have anything but a 401K program which I doubt anyone would/should have a problem with. We struggle all the time to try and help our volunteers and girls succeed with just the 3 of us – we are understaffed in my opinion. I hope you get the answers you are looking for, but I certainly don’t think things are as dire and shady as they seem – at least not where I am.

  143. I have tried to order badges for my troop, and not only is shipping sloooow it’s expensive too. If I had the same shipping model for my business I would be out of business.

  144. My friend and I skipped girl scouts and started our own Camp Fire Kids Group. They even let us adjust awards to fit the needs of the kids, including the special needs kids like my daughter.
    Now about your possible Dr. Who/Zombie etc….. Can it be for grown ups, I mean kids, I mean everyone, instead?

  145. You Rock Jenny! Thanks for standing up to the cookie pushers. They aren’t getting their fair cut.

  146. It has become a corporate entity that has lost focus on their mission.
    As for the shipping, I would assume $5.35 is shipping cost and the rest is “processing” fees… Or additional revenue for the OR they contracted out fulfilment….

  147. I love this letter!!
    I haven’t heard about the first issue but our troop is also having a heard time endorsing the online sales. Those prices are not right!

  148. This just makes me sad. I had a great time as a scout, but even back in the 80s I think a huge part of my experience was because my FATHER was my troop leader. Oh, it was scandalous back then! Anyway, he’s an Eagle Scout himself so he dragged my Cadet troop camping all the time. He found that the state would give you a patch for camping in 4 or 5 state parks in one year, so we earned that sucker. As a senior scout we joined up with one of those last remaining Mounted Girl Scout troops and had a blast. Sadly, the council decided they didn’t want the liability of girls on horses and disbanded them some time after I got out. The group is still going, just not as scouts anymore.

    I was quietly thankful that I have boys.

  149. This one won’t win me any points, but…in the ’80s I said something similar. Got bitched at nine ways to Sunday. This here is a bad business model. Moreover, this shit of online sales…selling the cookie sales was once about teaching girls lessons of social interaction, teamwork, self presentation, business…now? Have your parents scrounge up sales and in the meantime the home office can’t run its affairs and never bothered to expand and modernize so it is broke. Yea, those diabetic comas you sell were meant to support the camps and scholarships for at risk girls. So, sorry kids but we can’t be bothered to move our business model with the times so go sell cookies to pay our pensions would ya? Bull shit. Just bull shit.

  150. I have a troop of low income girls. We need the money from cookie sales. If you have a problem, you should deal with it directly with Council, not hurt the rest of us. Sorry to disagree with you, but it is hard enough to stand out in the cold in front of grocery stores every year selling cookies, please don’t make it harder on us!

  151. My daughter also has a disability and was kicked out of Girl Scouts after her leader physically assaulted her and the council blamed it on my daughter having a disability. I’d have sued but GSUSA and GSCNC have deeper pockets than I do.

  152. Okay, so let me get this right: The Girl Scouts are using child labor to fund their own retirements. Who the hell in this country gets a pension who isn’t part of a union (and not always them, either)???

  153. I feel the exact same way about GS. Both my daughters are in, but I was never thrilled with the scouts myself. If you decide to make that Dr. Who troop, my oldest daughter will love to join. She has the dress and all!!

  154. I love you. Thank you for giving voice that I, as a leader, and I, as a gs mother have been asking for ever. And if they kick Haley out, check out venturing in a few years.

  155. Sign me up for “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club”.

  156. Yess !!!!! ! have 5 daughters. All have spent time as a Girl Scout. In our area over the last 17 years In have watched almost all our camps close but yet 2 very high class Girl Scout Headquarters be built. At one point 4 of my daughters were members in the same troop. There is no way we could meet the sales “quota”. When they went before the local counsel to petition for approval for their project they were told they need to sell x amount of cookies or no approval would come……… only 1 of my girls are still involved….. but not with any love for the organization.
    We have lost our respect for the organization. I know many good women who still try to cling to the original ways and meaning of the club so they can pass it on . I have the greatest respect for them . Sadly i feel they are fighting a loosing battle.
    So sad…
    Well said Jenny.
    I hope your letter goes viral.
    It is past time for your message to be addressed.

  157. Every year’s cookie sale devalues the girls’ contributions. I didn’t fully realize ’til my girls were older (and keeping their share of their cookie sales in their “personal accounts”) how little the troops profit from cookies and how much of the sales price goes to council. I’m a big believer in Girl Scouting — I’m a former leader and cookie mom, and both of my daughters sold enough cookies in their last year of Seniors to pay for lifetime memberships — but some of GSUSA’s recent decisions have had me scratching my head. (Girl Scout Barbie is dressed in a Junior uniform why? Because 6th grade girls have boobs? Really, GSUSA??)

    I personally can’t wait to hear their response….

  158. so glad i’m not the only person writing letters to the ceo of council. anxious to see what comes back. good on ya!

  159. Apparently the pension problem has been an ongoing issue the GSA has been trying to tackle since the collapse of the economy in 2007 and an unfortunate choice in freeze their pension under the old rules in 2010 that ended up hurting them by not allowing them to take advantage of the pension relief available in 2012. This is an article going into the details from a pension fund web site so it’s a bit technical. So there does not seem to be anything nefarious about this, just continuing fallout from the Great Recession and a very bad decision to be exempted from the new pension plan rules until 2017. I am assuming that they are just running out of options. They did go 7 years before turning to cookie sales – I will give them that much. I received my First Class (Gold) award in 1979 and spent 3 summers as a GS camp counselor in the early 1980’s (insert me singing the Camp Winacka song here). I still support Girl Scouts and hope they can resolve these issues soon. But, I too will be waiting to hear what they have to say on these questions – there needs to be clarity!

  160. You go, Jenny! (And Hailey — You should be proud of your mom :))

    I hope that the powers-that-be at the Girl Scout Headquarters do read your letter and do not consider you a psychopath with a blog, because you bring up some excellent points about screwed-up business models. Actually, the fact that you even had to write such a letter to point out to the Girl Scouts’ CEOs concerning this fucked up business model makes me feel kinda stabby, because it is a f’d up business model that is a poor excuse for ‘creating an example for modern girls.’ Who are the Girl Scouts trying to kid? Sounds like making the almighty dollar to feed into the system to create more money for the system is their f-ing priority, rather than spending the money serving at-risk girls with resources — and that sucks. It sucks that they’d insist on such a mis-representation.

    I shouldn’t be surprised…but I am.

    Their priorities suck right there.

    Kudos to you, Jenny, for writing this letter and asking the questions. This is important stuff. I hope that you get a response from them.

  161. I’ve been making my own cookies for years. Low salt Ritz crackers, Ghirardelli dipping chocolate and a drop of peppermint extract. Yum!

  162. I looked to buy from a friend’s daughter who lives out of state and when I saw the delivery charge I changed my mind. I love the cookies and the mission, but I can’t get behind the hidden costs. And I feel bad, because it’s the little girls who have to suffer because of the giant corporation.

  163. Jenny,

    I rarely post comments. I am a big fan of yours and can’t wait for the second book. When I first read this post, I did not give it much deep thought to question your reasoning. Instead, I sent the link to a friend who I thought would appreciate your feisty letter and your attempt to get answers to some valid question.

    By friend responded, but made me see why your letter is focused on some of the wrong things. I think someone from the organization should respond to you and explain things. But, well, let me borrow some of my friend’s comments.

    • If the GS promised their employees pensions, they have a contractual obligation that probably legally supersedes any obligation to keep camps open. In terms of budgeting, therefore, they have to put money to pensions first. If they need to raise additional money for the camps, then they should, and that should be the focus of the criticism, not “Why are you paying pensions if you can’t keep camps open?” That’s dumb. Also, the blogger admits that she has heard the GS is pursuing funding for this. Why not ask for details on that instead of framing an accusation?
    • Camps are important but not all scouts go to camps. Regular activities (weekly meetings and local events) are {also} important.
    • Anyone who shops or sells online knows how expensive shipping is. $11.25 is high but not unheard of. Could the Girl Scouts approach a shipping company and get a better deal? Possibly, but they need serious bulk orders to do that. And this is the first year of online orders, so they probably can’t justify bulk discounts on shipping yet and they’re probably still figuring out the whole online order thing (which I can assure anyone is MUCH harder than it looks). Finally, shipping cost could also include the cost of packaging, printing labels, and labor. That is perfectly reasonable. In other words, shipping might be $8 but they are charging an additional $3.25 for their supply-side costs.
    • $1.25 is normal for an online credit card transaction fee.

    Anyway, that is my two cents, which you can add to my payment for thin mints. 🙂

    (All good points, but you can’t have any of my Thin Mints BECAUSE THEY’RE MINE! Kidding. You can have one. Please mail me $16. In answer to your responses:

    Pensions owed to people should be paid. That’s just basic ethics and I support that. What I question is whether girl scouts are told that the previous way of cookie sales benefiting camps and scholarships might change (as of today) because the money used for those things may now be sucked away because the council is forced to start paying off pension debt. It’s a legit debt and one that needs to be paid, but not really one I’m interested in my child working to pay off. And I didn’t say that the Girl Scouts is pursing funding. They’re asking for a (second) change in legislation to let them have more time to pay it off the debt that came about in 2008. I’ve asked if there have been any changes in congress that will let them put off paying that debt but I haven’t received any info.

    Camps are important, but not mandatory. But if the Girl Scouts are selling off historic camps while the young girls are telling people to buy cookies to support the camps then that seems questionable. Granted, less sales mean probably even fewer camps but the issue I have is one of transparency. I’ve read that less girls use the camps, but I also know that I’ve been to all the girl scout meetings for years and the curriculum doesn’t push camping like it once did so I’m not surprised. Even the “Girl Scout Barbie” they licensed last year wasn’t doing anything camp related. She was selling cookies. In hot pink capris and high-heeled boots.

    $11.25 might be legit but I want to know if they got competitive bids. Transparency (especially in light of the fact that their financial situation might be impacting our girls) is so important here. They’re a multi-million dollar corporation so I would have expected that they could have negotiated a better rate. Maybe there’s something else involved I don’t know though. Maybe they’re packing them with cold packs so they don’t melt. Maybe they contacted all shipping companies and all of them gave insanely high rates. Full transparency and communication would answer this one.

    Regarding the credit card fee, I’ll defer to you because I don’t know. Looking online it seems like it should be less but perhaps there are additional banking fees involved. It might be totally legitimate, but I’d really love to see a breakdown from them of what they’re being charged. Again, transparency is key in trust and will help our girls selling cookies when they are asked these questions. If my daughter wasn’t the one out doing the labor for this stuff I wouldn’t care so much about making sure that these decisions are fiscally sound, well-reported and explained. I will say though that I’ve read that a card surcharge of more than 4% is illegal, and also credit card surcharges are illegal in several states, including mine (Texas). Maybe that’s something different?

    Again, excellent comment and thanks! ~ Jenny)

  164. I went to the National GS site FAQs section. Answered copied here…One hundred percent of the net revenue raised through the Girl Scout Cookie Program stays with the local council and troops. Girl Scout troops set goals on how to spend their proceeds on program-related activities, such as paying their own way to a community event or museum, or funding other programmatic outings. Girl Scout troops may also choose to use proceeds to purchase materials for a Take Action/Service project to benefit the community.

    (For me this is not a real answer. The girl scout website states that the local council is the one paying for the pension deficit issue starting tomorrow. Unless your council is part of the very small percentage that has not opted in for the pension program then they are changing the way that money is spent. Yes, the profits go to the council and -in small part- the troop, but the local council will start paying money for the pension deficit problems which I fear will take away money that would go for for the things they previously paid for starting tomorrow. ~ Jenny)

  165. When you start your “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club” let us know. My daughter and I are interested ^_^

  166. Okay, I re-read that several times and what they are changing just seems wrong to me. Like math that doesn’t add up. I hope you get answers.


  167. I agree with your outrage. With the troops only seeing $.60 a box and being asked to sell the product our troop leader took it to the kids and parents a few years ago. Instead of selling cookies girls asked for donations. Parents/family/friends donated the $ they would have spent buying cookies from our troop. 100% of that money was used by the troop to directly help our commodity. The girls felt like they had done more for the people they were helping by going above and beyond than they did schlepping cookies in front of stores. I hope you get some answers. I’m interested to see where this leads.

  168. It is truly outrageous that the majority of money from these cookie sales go to possibly pay stuffed shirt pensions. Most of which I am sure are overpaid. These girls work hard on these cookie sales and I tell you it sucks to sit in the freezing cold outside of your neighborhood grocery store selling cookies and yiur group only gets about 10-20% from it. I am interested to see what response you get. Keep us posted.

  169. I love that you are asking the questions. I’ve been asked to support many cookie sales across the country for my friends’ daughters but I was blown away by the fees and opted to just donate to their troops.

  170. I love that you are involved in what interests your daughter. I hope you get the answers to your questions, being a Gold Award recipient myself, I would also like to know what you find out. Good luck!

  171. As a former Girl Svout Council employee… I can say that current cookie sales shouldn’t have to pay for our pension. Girl Scout employees’ pensions should have been funded at the time each of the employees were working. Did the national organization not do this or have they habitually dipped into that fund for remodeling executive restrooms, hefty salaries, etc. I am a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and believe that the program has much to offer girl of today. My camping experiences shaped who I am and gave me immeasurable skills. The organization can do better than it currently seemed to be doing.

  172. I believe the problem is the ever increasing cost of the crack or heroin or whatever it is they put in the Tagalongs to make them so completely addictive. Seriously, I know smokers who quit cold-turkey but can’t go a season without at least one box of Do-Si-Dos. Whatever it is they put in the cookies is what should be investigated here. Oh sure, they blame pensions but I bet its really the Columbian cartels raising prices plus hush money to the CIA or SHIELD or the Food Channel or something. Fortunately, I believe sales in the now marijuana-legal states should probably cover pretty much any shortfall. Just saying.

  173. To the person who compared GS cookies to “diabetic comas”: Cookies (of any type) do not cause diabetes or cause diabetic comas, nor does consuming any sugary product. This is one of those false myths we in the Type 1 diabetic community keep trying to dispel.
    Thanks, and now back to the issue at hand.

  174. Thank you for writing this… I was Girl Scout, earned my Silver Award. Went to camp every summer. Learned all about independence, leadership, friendship and so many other countless life lessons. Great Trail Girl Scout Camp was sectioned off and auctioned off on December 13, 2014. Because the local Council decided, it was too expensive to keep open. I no longer purchase Girl Scout cookies for this very reason. Because the national board needs to get their shit together and get back to basics.

  175. Some years ago, I hate to think of how many, I worked for a company that rewarded its employees that volunteered at non-profits by providing 500.00 to the local organization (my daughter’s girl scout troop) and double that amount for the organization (the area council). When I called to get the tax id number for the council, they demanded to receive not only the 1000.00 coming their way but the 500.00 earmarked for our troop. I was completely dumbfounded. It wasn’t enough that they were receiving money, just because I volunteered for our troop, but those greedy a-holes wanted to take the money out of the pockets of our girls. That was it for me. Girl Scouts has a great message, and I’m impressed that they have moved along with the times and recognize that girl come in all shapes, sizes and identities, but I cannot abide paid employees putting themselves above the very girls they are charged to support.
    I hope you get a satisfactory answer, but I do not believe that girls are really being served by this organization any longer, it has become a greedy corporation who lost touch with its mission a long, long time ago.

  176. My niece is in GS. I frickin’ hide during selling season because my sis becomes a psychotic monster who sends out multiple facebook and emails. The cookies get smaller and fewer in the box while being more expensive, not that I EVER see the cookies I buy. Psycho-sis hoards the thin mints and pretends she gave them to me. Last count she owes me 6 boxes.

  177. I’d ignore the issue of the cost of ordering online. Girls previously weren’t permitted to sell on line at all, but some families cheated and other girls complained it was unfair. This year’s online system is meant to provide an option for people who insist on it, but it is not seriously intended as a way for cookies to be sold in any significant numbers. They want girls to sell face to face, not have their parents set up a website to do it for them.

    Part of the different cost of cookies is that there are actually two different bakers. Keebler makes the awesome ones under the name “Little Brownie Bakers.” Burry/FFV makes the less-than-awesome ones under the name “ABC Bakers.” The perennial cookies are basically the same with both bakeries, though the names are different (Samoas vs. Caramel DeLites, for instance). The cookies that rotate in and out every couple years vary with the different bakers, so your council may not sell the same cookies the council across the river sells. Keebler/Little Brownie cookies cost more. Each council has to decide if they can eat the difference in costs, especially since they have to be priced in even multiples of 25 or 50 cents for little brains to multiply in their heads. Thin Mints account for a disproportionate amount of sales, and both bakeries follow the same recipe for them, AFAIK.

    As far as pension costs, I have no information on that at all. I haven’t had any bad experiences with staff at my council, but just let me say that I was surprised to hear there were enough actual paid employees (rather than well-meaning volunteers) for pension costs to even be an issue.

  178. I was a troop leader about a decade ago and that’s probably the same amount per box that we got for the troop back then. I don’t even know how much of my personal money I spent or personal craft supplies were used for troop meetings/outings. But it was more than we made on cookies.

  179. My friend Gretchen has been asking these same questions and fighting this same battle. They just sold a really great girl scout camp here that was used every year. It was a great get away for the girls, but they had to pay pensions too.
    Meanwhile, the head of the GS organization makes almost 1/2 million dollars.

  180. I really hope your letter results in you getting some straight answers. I worked at a local Camp Fire office and found working with the National Offices was a really frustrating part of the job and that was without any cookie sales!
    I will say that knowing how little money actually stays with the troop it may be easier for me to keep my “less sugar” resolution and skip the cookies and just donate some money to a local troop instead.

    Have a wonderful New Year Jenny!!!

  181. Dear Girl Scouts,

    This could be the single best marketing tool a family has ever given you. They are practically engaging in the type of make-over the Girl Scouts desperately need and are also showing what powerful girls (who become powerful women) do when they hit a roadblock. Also, they even told you they were living up to
    Your values.

    Dear Jenny & Hailey,
    As always, my heroes! (Or sheroes)

  182. Great letter asking all of the right questions. Instead of buying cookies so the profits can go to the GS pension fund, what if people would write the troop a check for $6? The $6 is what the troop would get from the sale of the 10 boxes of cookies.

  183. You go girl! If I read this right, they are charging $1.25 per box of cookies online as a credit card fee? If that’s right then they are being overcharged like mad. It should be $1.25 per ORDER not box. When you do a credit card order then they are charged that fee per order. Or that’s how every business I’ve ever worked for does it. So if they are saying its for every box, you are getting screwed six ways from Sunday on your online orders. No credit card company I know of charges that kind of fee per item in an order. It’s charged for the total order. Sounds like maybe there’s some shady shit going on there.
    BTW, I wish the company that I worked for 25 fucking years hadn’t lost our pension because I’d love to be able to retire!

  184. This was an interesting read … I hope you get some answers.

    As a child in the 70’s I always wanted to be a Girl Scout. I watched parts of their Brownie troop meetings from across the cafeteria as I waited for the late bus to take me home from school on Mondays. I vowed as an 8-10 year old that when I was a mom, that my daughters would be allowed to participate in Girl Scouts if they desired it.

    In the mid 90’s my oldest daughter came home from school one fall day and said … Mommy, this lady came to school today and told me about a new club that girls can join and we can eat s’mores and go camping. Can I join? I said YES!! We went to the information meeting and I somehow was recruited as a troop leader.

    I was an ACTIVE troop leader from October 1995 until this past September (2014) … 19 years as a troop leader with 4 daughter in Girl Scouts. I have gone through MANY different organizational changes and 3 councils (MN, FL & SC) and a merger into a 4th council. I have experienced … a crazy co-leader who stole our profits from our first cookie sales, 12 precious Brownies who as adults still keep in touch with my 3 adult daughters, 3 years as VOLUNTEER GS Summer Camp director (the best 3 summers of our lives), 2 years with a troop that consisted of only my 3 older daughters, 6 years of leading a multi-level troop with up to 32 girls, helping a total of 9 girls earn their bronze award and 4 earn their silver awards, helped 1 girl work hard on her gold award but she was turned down 3 different times, 2 years with a drug addicted mom that caused major drama, having a service unit cookie manager steal over $17,000 of cookie profit, 5 years as a service unit encampment director, I served on countless council committees (including a cookie policy committee), many MANY different program changes, an amazing amount of DRAMA (99% of the drama was between parents and/or council staff members), a grandmother who threaten to come to my house and “teach me a lesson” because I would not permit her to say the F word in front of the girls, … and sooooo much more. I kept sticking it out and trudging along until this past year when my 14 year old daughter said “Mom, I don’t want to be a part of Girl Scouts any more, I don’t respect the organization and what they stand for … because it is definitely not girls, girls are not a top priority in Girl Scouts. 🙁

  185. Also, I don’t know if it has changed, but back when I had a troop, if your troop didn’t sell cookies you couldn’t participate in/hold alternative fundraising events like car washes and the like.

  186. Thank you so much for writing this! I’m a former Girl Scout (Brownie through Cadette) who attended GS Camp Comstock in Ithaca NY every year from the time I was 8. Some of the best memories I have of my childhood are those 12 days a year spent in the woods and in/on Cayuga Lake. I grew up extremely poor and, although I hustled my butt off to sell those cookies, I was a scholarship camper. Every skill I could bring to the “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club” was learned at Girl Scout camp.

    I’ve always bought what (others say) is a ridiculous amount of cookies (40 boxes isn’t too many, right?) because I wanted to support other girls like me who needed the escape and the fun of summer camp, as well as the confidence that learning outdoor skills brings. Now, I’m finding out that only a small percentage of the cookie sales are given to the troops, GSUSA is closing camps, councils have been merged and re-districted — and the individual Scouts and their troops are seeing few, if any, benefits of their hard work? It saddens me.

    I’m just going to start giving cash to the troop leaders I know to spend as they see fit on their Scouts and troop activities, rather than buying cookies. Or well, buying as many.

  187. Girl scout cookie sales, imo, belong in the past…the same past where grandma’s rubbed bourbon on teething baby’s gums, you could buy a bottle of cough syrup with heroin listed as an ingredient, and smoking was recommended by your doctor… We have skyrocketing childhood obesity, and our children are asked to sell a product that barely qualifies as food and just fuels the overweight epidemic… All that aside, the way the sales are set up teaches our girls to devalue their work. They are not getting paid for their hard work if they keep mere cents on each box, and the whole set up is like patriarchy- shouldn’t we encourage our girls to find novel ways to raise funds on THEIR own…wouldn’t that, you know, teach them how valuable, smart, and creative they truly are in their own right? Instead, we have them line up like good little workers, taking orders from above…

  188. Can you get a badge for showing your daughter that asking questions is a very good thing?

    Former Girl Scout and leader who snuck white gas in to get campfire started in drenching wet rain forest but don’t tell them that.

  189. I started out as a Girl Scout in the late 60s and stayed in until I was a sophomore in high school and it was a wonderful experience. When I graduated I went back as a troop co-leader with my younger sister’s troop . More good times lol. Please remember this was when the girl in Girl Scouts mattered. A long break from scouting and then I had a daughter. So in 2000 I jumped back in as a Daisy leader. Stayed her leader until her sophomore year. I also served as the Service Unit manager in both Illinois and then Southeastern Wisconsin, which was a thankless volunteer position that was the equivalent of an unpaid full time job. I started questioning the council positions and policies around 2009, asking for explanations as to why the organization was running more like a corporation, focused on their “brand” and leaving the girls scattered along the way. Definitely time to move on to the Dr Who model which will actually promote leadership and life skills and pride in their organization. I commend your commitment to your daughter and your parenting skills. Warm wishes for a wonderful New Year!!

  190. I read this to my kids and they heard nothing after “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club.”

  191. I’m torn – I want to support your Girl Scout effort, but I’d also like to see the What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club happen. Can I do both?

  192. How each local council is funded will vary and when mergers happen bad decisions can get spread. Camping used to be on undeveloped land with low maintenance costs. Now with buildings, pools, and whatever else the modern program may want or need, the expenses have gone up as have state health requirements for keeping the camp open. All of this takes money at the local council level and if the local council does not raise the money there will probably be another merger. The pension issue sounds nasty. I don’t know about GUSA, but in the BSA, all the professionals come from the same group. You are hired at the bottom and move up the ladder between councils. No lateral entries from other non-profits are allowed. That just makes the situation worse.

    Of course, if it was a fully volunteer situation, it would probably be even worse. Good luck.

  193. I hope this fact gets a lot of publicity. It’s been this way for a long time. I have been donating money to the troops, not buying cookies.

  194. FYI…it’s latish on New Years Eve so I’ve been drinking but I should note that the Girl Scouts twitter account just said they’d touch base with me about my concerns after the holidays. Hopefully they’ll have a good response explaining the situation or expounding on how they plan to improve in either deed or improved communications. It’s not ideal but it’s something, and that’s a step in a good direction.

    Also, Hailey has decided to pass on the online sales thing this year, but my sweet daughter will probably be one of those excited young girl scouts manning a cookie booth outside a grocery story because she loves being an extrovert (I suspect she was switched at birth) so please keep in mind that the little girls asking for sales are not privy or responsible for all of these complicated issues and should never be yelled at for their excitement. It’s fine to say “Sure, I love Do-Si-Dos” or “no, thanks” but yelling at small children isn’t really kosher. I know I probably don’t have to say this out loud for any regular reader with common sense, but just in case this gets to someone who isn’t a regular, remember that children are children and are affected by your interactions.

    If you’ve read my book you’ll know that already because I dedicated it to every single person who has ever helped me “except for that guy who yelled at me at Kmart for being ‘too rowdy’. You, sir, are an asshole.” In other words, that shit sticks, so be nice to small children. That’s just basic human kindness.

  195. Pensions versus supporting at risk girls. I’m dumb-founded. Silly me, after all these years of volunteering and buying cookies and popcorn and lord knows what else I had no idea that we were funding pensions in scouting.

    Thank you for delivering a blinding flash of the obvious. I will research and take action.

    Thanks Jenny and Hailey.

  196. Campfire USA. It’s for both boys and girls, and 66% of the price of the candy goes to the program, and all kids who sell get credit towards camp or an activity, depending on how much they sale. Last year, my 8 year old earned 60 dollars towards camp by selling in front of a store for three weekends. They are the most inclusive club. My son’s group is has kids aged 5 to 12, about twenty kids, and we do lots of things together and also divide up by groups, so they are with their own age group, but have the opportunity to be a tribe where the older kids look out for the younger and the younger kids look up to the older. We have mostly boys, with maybe 5 out of 20 are girls. One girl used to be in Girl Scouts but prefers our group because we do more cool things instead of just girly things. There are alternatives out there!

  197. As a Girl Scout leader for 13 years, I can say I have seen it all (I am pretty sure). I agree with all of your questions and in fact, they DO reflect the ideas of Girl Scouting and what it was founded on…. there is nothing wrong with asking constructive questions and you absolutely deserve and the girls deserve proper answers. I have participated in cookie sales for all 13 of those years, and the money that we made did allow for us to travel, to go to camp, to help with service projects, and to financially be able to support ourselves. I can only speak from my experiences of course, but warts and all, scouting has been a wonderful experience for myself and my daughter. Many things can be frustrating (word) but we have usually been able to get proper answers.
    I would really hate for people to become negative about a program that definitely does good things based on this. Check in with and to get more info. GSUSA is consistently rated as a 4 star or A rated charity because of their transparency and because on average over 90% of their income goes straight back into the program itself, not admin costs.
    All of that being said, something smells fishy over in your neck of the woods. You have a right to some darn good answers, and quickly at that!

    Best of luck!

  198. Sadly, very little of the cookie sales have ever directly benefited the girls. That’s why my troop found a different fundraiser back in the day (mid-90’s.)

  199. I grew up a Girl Scout and my mom was our fearless leader for 12 years. It taught me so much and helped shape who I am today. That being said, I have watched the organization become almost unrecognizable. All but one of the camps I grew up at are gone and the ideals seem to have shifted dramarically. I still keep in close touch with girls from my troop. They have all grown up to be great women. I love your letter and hopefully it will start a bery necessary conversation about Girl Scouting. I hope that for Haley and all the other girls that can have as an enriching and super fun experience as I had.

  200. I always find that truth is the best option. I really shouldn’t have gluten. So I tell them that. Everyone is nice about it and no one is hurt by it.

  201. Your post here is already on page 2 when I Googled “girl scout cookies pension”. I’m very curious to know if an answer comes to your open letter and what that answer is. I might not get cookies this year if it’s not helping out the girls…

    We already don’t buy anything from the Boy Scouts, it’d be a shame to add the Girl Scouts to that as well.

  202. Hello again. This is Elizabeth (Betsy) from the GS of Kentuckiana. I am a volunteer and trainer there. I don’t think Girl Scout employees having pensions is wrong. The people have paid into them over the years. What happened to cause a problem with them (I have read) is that the council mergers (cutting the number of councils in half) brought with it MANY more people retiring because there were no jobs for them anymore. This may have been a side-effect nobody saw. But camps should not be sold to cover this. I believe we need to try to save as many Girl Scout camps as we can. The cookie money should go towards the camps, and for Scouterships for girls and to help underprivileged girls as well.

    And we need our Girl Scout camps! Selling them is NOT the answer. The girls deserve these great places for great outdoor program. Many people agree that It is a bad financial decision to sell camps that Girl Scout girls need, because how are they going to be replaced after that? There are some articles you may want to read to get some more background about the possible debt problem coming. Here is a link to some Girl Scout Take Action groups: This page has articles that are very good, that explain where some of the changes to Girl Scouting happened too:

    I believe Girl Scouts is still the best organization for girls out there. But we do need to talk about these issues and try to come up with creative solutions to them. AND we need more official outdoor program and badges added back too.

    I would also say, don’t stop buying cookies! Troops need the income from selling them. That’s my two cents. Join us and Take Action for the Girl Scout girls. Good conversation…

  203. For girls, there is also Job’s Daughters, although the only way to get accepted is to be verifiably related to a (male) member of a Masonic Lodge. My youngest daughter (11) is in a Bethel. (her older sisters are not interested). The Bethel does all kinds of fundraisers, but the money is noted as going to the girls that earn it (such as from cookie sales or car washes) or to the Bethel to fund activities (cake or pie auctions at the Lodge – the guys bid high). Admittedly, they don’t earn badges, but they do have ritual to memorize, summer camps at the Masonic camp property, Jobie Weekend with all kinds of fun competitions (my daughter won Best in State in Category for deviled quail eggs last year!), sleepovers, other outings…and as far as I can tell, nobody is profiting, profiteering, or being paid pensions. We have grandma-ladies in the Bethel, long “aged out”, who are still involved 60 or more years after they wore their robes. I’m very slowly being won over, and I’m really not a ‘get involved’ sort of person.

  204. I have 16 and 17 year old scouts. I would have quit long ago except I have a great group of volunteers who put on day camp and my girls love day camp. But the national organization is really frustrating. You go girl.

  205. As a former Girl Scout Leader AND former Cookie Mom, I have one thing to say: Go on with yer bad self, girl (in my best white girl voice). I hope someone gives you answers, I’ll be watching!!

  206. I actually jumped in & had to take over a troop of 1st graders after the leader switched to Boyscouts. Our troop had 25 girls, very strong, different, and amazing girls. I never wanted to be a GS Leader, but the crew was a float without any caption. Another mother and myself registered and received all the piper training (17 hrs 1st year), plus age level training & CPR/1st Aid every year. This doesn’t include personal time spent getting ready for badge work and meetings and planning trips. We were a active little group and happy together for 7 years, with girls from Brownies, 3rd grade to Ambassadors, high schoolers. I always dreaded Cookie Sales each January! I made the it entirely clear to the girls that I did not care if they only sold 1 box as long as they walked up, talked to that person, exchanged cookies for money and used their manners. If I heard they were having their parents leave a form at work and not doing any of the selling it didn’t count! There was no lesson learnt! We had cookie training each year, games to teach exchange of money, knowledge of their products every cookie, the details of how cookies sales began in 1918 just after she began the association, to help Julliette Lowe fund the Girl Scouts. Even though I told those girls they didn’t have to sell to raise funds, or win prizes, our Troop sold the most cookies every year, they girls had learnt a lesson in life, they knew their product, they knew if we sold well they received 30% of the sale, and they had learnt to enjoy talking and engaging people, doing business. As much as I dreaded the insanity of January GS Cookie Sales, I know that each of our girls learnt a little something about themselves and about how to talk to people, and about doing business, sales which all will help them in their future lives. I see them all now grown up beautiful and talented in so many different ways, but each and everyone of them are a leader, a planner, a motivator, and I still love the precious hugs!
    Cause the moms in the back of the room maybe dragging thru just one meeting, but I have a disorder which makes it hard to be in front of groups, to lead, to organize a large group! But I stepped up and with a few really good moms I sat on the floor in the circle and did the friendship squeeze and sang Hermie the Wormie, and listened to heartfelt stories from little girls struggles. I did give my time to prepare, to train, and to spend time down on the floor every week for 7 years with those sweet 25 girls.

  207. The Girl Scouts want a taxpayer bailout? For the amount they sell their crack cookies, they should all get Mercedes to tool around and deliver the damn things! What morons are running that crap anyway… oh wait, people who get pensions apparently. Get with the real world, suck it up and get a 401K and suffer with the rest of us peon scum!

  208. My husband and I use Square Register to complete credit card transactions for our business. We are charged 2.75% for each transaction. For a $4.00 box of cookies, the credit card fee would be 11 cents. I’m calling BS on Girl Scouts credit card fee.

  209. I hope against hope you get some kind of answer! I have a daughter in Girl Scouts, and am a troop leader, and I’m not important enough to warrant a response from the Girl Scouts when I express a concern by email. I’ve pointed out the specific and general grossness of their partnership with Mattel and Barbie, as well as expressed some real concerns about the lousy customer service for the fall fund raiser. I consistently get silence in response. I hope your larger forum draws an honest response.

  210. Several girls in our church joined up with a group called American Heritage Girls, as a more conservative option. My Sis-in-law was a Campfire Girl. GSA is not the only option out there.

    All I remember from my limited experience with Girl Scouts of America was horrid. We never went to camp, we never did great cookie sales, I had troop leaders move away (and that killed the troop… had that happen twice!), and I had one troop that the girls were so rude and said they hated me and I cried after every meeting. I got the Bridge to Juniors, and quit, because it meant nothing to me. I still have pins and patches… but I never felt good about my time in the GSA.

    I have friends who are involved like crazy in GSA, and lead and sell cookies and do everything they can, because it helps their daughters. I know people who have left GSA, because they believed it did NOT help their daughters. I think the decision has to be made for the best scenario for the individual girls. I gave up my involvement of my own accord, and my parents supported that decision wholeheartedly. As, I suspect, they would have supported a choice to stay and tough it out.

    I hope you get real answers, not the run around. Good for you, asking the real and tough questions.

  211. Wow! I am a former Girl Scout, turned first year Daisy leader, and have to say I am new at this, so I haven’t encountered the beastly side of council issues, yet. However, I have to say, there seems to be a lot of hatred toward the organization — mainly in responses (whether it’s from someone questioning ties to Planned Parenthood or questioning where cookie funds are really going). It was my understanding that GSUSA is trying to “get back to basics,” because of the outcry over closed campsites, loss of volunteers and (most significantly) fewer girls joining.

    I have to say that we have finished (and survived) Fall Nut Sales, and our troop has a comfortable cushion in our account, with which we plan on paying for field trips and badges. Cookie Sales should bring in a much bigger profit for our troop (I’ve been told), and we are counting on this to pay for camp in the spring, as well as our other events (trips and activities). I don’t want to be myopic, and not question where the rest of the funds are going, but let’s face it: no one likes to do fundraising — and if you did follow the money for any organization, you’d find that you’re paying for something you don’t agree with. Also, I honestly find information like this to be harmful to the kids who are about to get out there to pound pavement and try to sell these cookies. There’s a lot of good within this organization, and I hate to throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Our troop of primarily kindergarteners has completed several community service projects, and we plan on heading into outdoor adventures as soon as it warms up! On top of it, these are little girls from very diverse backgrounds (from children with significant disabilities to GSUSA scholarship recipients). I feel that my Daisy and I have been immensely blessed to be part of the Girl Scouts, and I do hope the CEO responds & I hope that some of this is misinformation.

    Thank you for sharing!

    (I can tell you that I am a very firm supporter of Planned Parenthood but the girl Scouts are not involved with them. Personally, I’d be fine if they were because Planned Parenthood helped me when I was a teenager but I’ve done the research and there isn’t a real connection. ~ Jenny)

  212. I just want to say as a person who has been a girl scout for 32 years (since I was 5) there’s a discrepancy in how this is being represented.

    About half the cost of a box of cookies (which is different council to council and as someone else said based on which bakery is used) goes to pay for the cookies their packaging etc. That leaves around $2.00 a box about a third of which has typically gone to the troops (older troops can chose not receive incentives and instead receive about 20-30 cents more a box) the rest has paid for incentives (patches prizes camperships etc), scouting programs for girls in at risk populations (including camp experiences, FREE camp experiences for low income inner city kids who might otherwise never see a camp) and lastly administrative costs.

    This whole pensions thing is a BRAND NEW issue and is totally new to me (I haven’t been active troop leader for about 5 years b/c I went back to school ((but I was a leader and a Service Unit Manager even though I don’t have kids!)) so I’m slightly out of the loop) and probably varies from council to council.

    I know a lot of councils sold off camps when there was the big council merge right before I stopped being a troop leader because the newly formed councils often had redundant camps (our new merged council has two camps about 5 miles apart!). And by redundant I mean there wasn’t the demand for the camps. I spent the summers of 2011 and 2012 working at a GSUSA camp* as a way to stay involved while in school and our numbers were very low, 1/3-1/2 of the camp was often unused each week/session.

    Council to council things can be very different but I have never heard of troop fund-raisers not being allowed. When I was a teen scout we did a TON of fundraising outside of cookies for our travel fund! I’ve been a scout/leader in 5 different councils including councils on both coasts.

    Girl Scouting is still a great program for young women (and young men, boys can be registered members too btw) but they’re dealing with a financial crisis, one that sounds very similar to what the United States Post Office has been dealing with actually. No one plans to have a financial crisis and I hope they can resolve it without damaging a program that provides so much to so many.

    *The paid staff at GSUSA camps is not there for the money. I worked 22 hour days(on call while sleeping) every day we were in session (usually 5+ days a week) for less than $1250.00 a month(before taxes) as a member of the administrative staff. Counselors make less.

  213. I’m glad Scott commented — what he shared is also what I’ve learned from volunteer leaders, and it’s plausible to me. The 2008 crash ruined a lot of people’s retirements, and I actually give the GS organization credit for keeping their promises to long-retired employees instead of dumping them. Whether it’s sustainable or not is another issue. It’s our first year selling cookies and I’m interested to see how it goes, we’ll see how I feel in 6 months.

  214. I hope someone gives you answers and I hope you share them all with us. I’m really interested to see how their PR spins all of this into a positive thing. I applaud you for this letter and I think that your daughter is a very, very lucky girl for having someone like you as a mother. Hope someone answers you soon! Best of luck!

  215. I had a similar issue when my boys were in cub scouts. I wrote a letter and got such a douche-baggery response from the people that run the Cradle of Liberty section of the scouts that I continued with scouts for another year just to be a dick to them in person.

  216. What a crock. My early experiences in GS helped make me a headstrong feminist early; but not to GS’s praise. GS was so lame compared to what i saw the boys doing in the BS, that i quit.
    It looks like GS has succumbed to the fate of many organizations that start out with good intentions and excellent goals: it becomes about maintaining itself as an entity and the lofty goals are only a pretense.
    Go get ’em, Jenny and Hailey!

  217. It’s been many years since I worked for a girl scout council (mid 90s). I was an “executive” and had no pension (was very thankful to have health benefits while working for a non-profit organization), so I’m a little unclear as to where all the $$$ are going for “pensions”. Maybe to the national organization staff?

    I too had issues as to how much of the cookie sale funded overall operations and how much pressure was put on troops and individual girls to sell, sell, SELL cookies.

    The council I worked for was very good about initiating and funding many innovative programs, including sports programs and troops in at-risk areas, as well as a prison programs for girls whose mothers were incarcerated.

    I chose to leave the organization for several reasons, but always hoped it would continue to be a positive opportunity for young women and get beyond the funding issues.

    The ties with the United Way were also always a bit of a slippery slope – I had to do a lot of UW fundraising for the small bit of money we received from them and it always felt…well, icky, for lack of a better word.

    BUT since many lovely young ladies contributed to my salary back in the day, even though I can’t stand to sight or smell of a box of girl scout cookies (my office was full of them, all year) I always buy a box from the lovely young ladies selling them when I encounter them.

  218. I’ve long given them cash because 1. i can’t eat the cookies and 2. they get so little $$ from the cookies that it’s laughable.

  219. Bless you, you wonderful woman for supporting Hailey in her scouting. Enjoy your New Years, and I really hope that Hailey(and her troop) learns the 5 skills of the cookie business; which is what the program is supposed to be about anyways. The focus for my troop is always on teaching Goal Setting, Decision Making, Business Ethics, People Skills, and Money Handling. I’ve been a leader for five years and my second favorite part of the year is when my girls get together and set a troop goal, and we all brainstorm on how to reach it. My favorite part is when we get to go on that horseback riding trip or stay overnight at the children’s museum, completely paid for with proceeds from cookie sales.

    My own daughter earns enough for camp every year through cookie sales and our troop typically donates proceeds to whichever cause is tugging at their heartstrings that year. Last year, they adopted a shelter bunny(they even picked the most aggressive unlovable rabbit at the shelter cause they were afraid no one else would, and named him “Happy” in hopes of influencing his personality) and the year before they shopped for and donated toys to a local group of foster kids(this was inspired by an evening where my older scouts volunteered serving food to homeless and learning that kids can be homeless too. Later that night my daughter was sleeping on her floor and I asked her why, “I wanted to know how it felt to not have a bed to sleep in”.) That is why I am a leader, and I also support my scouts. It’s not about the council, is about my girls(daughters and scouts).

    I know there is much to be improved in the Girl Scout organization, but the way I see it, I(and my daughters) can do more working from within, than by looking on from the outside.

  220. You don’t have to buy cookies. Donations are always welcome. The girls are supposed to be selling them for a troop goal and a personal goal. We raised our funds so we could go to Schlitterbahn and do other events. We also knew that part of the funds we raised went toward maintaining Camp Texlake and the clubhouse in Austin. I was a brownie through cadet and my daughter was a brownie to girl scout. We were a “low-income” troop and these sales helped us go to camps etc. But we were always thrilled for donations as we stood there freezing our butts off. There’s tons of good things about GS, but it is made up of people, and sometimes people are flawed. Fix what’s wrong. You don’t fix a leaking roof by burning down the house. If it bothers people to support a council that’s not meeting expectations, change the council. Otherwise buy a box of Cookies from the girls out there selling them and donate the price of a box to the troop. Get involved there are never enough volunteers.

  221. I really think folks should consider that the Girl Scouts has professional needs and that the folks who get pensions have been serving girls and helping them as their job. I imagine they earnednthere pensions. Who do you think organizes units, recruits girls, and keeps track of all of the paper work? Not to mention recruits the under served youth and then maintains the camps. The camp rangers get pensions from the cookie sales also.

    If you work for any company that has a retirement program and youth think it is good for the employees, why wouldn’t you want the nonprofit executives at the girl scouts to have a well funded one? It sounds like it is necessary and not just some money grab.

  222. I don’t have kids but would happily join and be a leader for the What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club.

  223. My girls have decided that it’s bad that Girl Scouts are supposed to be “Honest and Fair”, but an 11-16% return on cookie sales is NOT fair when council gets 50%. And THEN they instituted a “mystery shopper” program for cookie booth sales with a 12 point list! No…just no. Boy Scout troops, by the way, get a minimum of 30% of their popcorn sales…so how does GSUSA live with themselves for “paying” the girls 1/2 of what the boys get?

    And I, also, have had less than stellar interactions with GS council people. Condescending, rude, and just overall unprofessional behavior.

  224. This right here is the best possible thing that you could do for Hailey, whether it causes a fuss or not. It’s well thought out, full of actual facts and research, and hella tactful. But it also looks at stuff head on and just plain asks the question. You did good, Mama. Hope you get a useful, sane answer. (Not a GS fan either, so am expecting that you will get boolsheet rather than sanity in response. But gonna put on my Pollyanna hat and hope for the best.)

  225. I left GS after my parent’s divorced and the GS leaders made me feel weird. (I am going to assume it’s because my Mom had to go to work and could no longer help out) I was also my daughter’s GS leader for four years because I was guilt-ed into it by another Mother. I personally think there is no reason at this day and age to keep the girls and boys separate. I have also hated cookie sales. No matter how hard some girls worked selling cookies, there were always the girls whose parents did all the selling for them at their places of employment, and those girls got more ‘rewards’ for doing little to no work at all. Stupid.

  226. I was never a Girl Scout, and I don’t have kids…but I sincerely wish I could go back in time and have a mom who cared as much as you do – about people in general and her kid in particular. You rock.

  227. I know absolutely nothing about Girl Scouts or the cookie sale fundraiser ( other than that the tagalongs are the best), but I do know good parenting when I see it. Bravo…..way to teach her to question things, not only in her head, but out loud to the people who seem to be making decisions that don’t make sense. Just like this, girls need to be taught not to blindly go along with or accept things they might disagree with. I think this is doing her a great service by modeling a polite but firm stance of needing to know more before participating.

  228. The Girl Scouts own one of the most outstandingly successful fundraisers of all time. It is the ONLY fundraiser out there where people will say, “I need my Thin Mint fix; who’s got a Girl Scout?” No one else sells anything that is so actively desired.

    Given that, I have been baffled for years by the apparent clusterfuck that is the GSUSA.

    The Boy Scouts in my area a few years ago bought a defunct building and renovated it into sort of a Boy Scout rec center with a ropes course and a climbing wall. They’re doing fine, financially, despite the fact that no one particularly wants Boy Scout popcorn.

    There is something deeply screwy with Girl Scout financials, and reading their web site (which I did a year or two ago, thinking about this) did not make me feel any more enlightened.

  229. Excellent letter; be sure to send it.

    Unless things have changed in the few years since my girls graduated, roughly $1 goes to the baker, roughly $0.60 goes to the troop, and the rest stays in the local council to provide scholarships, camp fees, etc. No money goes to National. As I said, though, things may have changed.

    former Girl Scout (6 years) and former Girl Scout leader (13 years, with five girls going through the entire program)

  230. Apparently the $11.25 shipping fee is flat rate, because I ordered 4 boxes of cookies and was charged the same $11.25 for shipping. My bet is that they are using a flat rate to encourage people to buy more at a time to make it “worth it.”

  231. Are the cookies now being sold through cafepress, b/c that sounds like they’re kind of outrageous shipping prices.

  232. I am addicted to thin mints and quite fond of do-si-dos. But I don’t need them and probably shouldn’t eat them. Seriously how little of the fundraising money goes to the organization doing the fundraising is a shame. Yet with school activities it is requirement for lettering. In my kids elementary school I got so sick of the fundraisers that I finally asked, can I just write a check and then you get it all and I skip the guilt? Win-win. My favorite fundraiser they ever did was a jog-a-thon. Parents and friends pledged a fixed amount or amount per lap, kids ran around, teh school kept all the money. Winning all around.

  233. We tried to join Girl Scouts once. They took our registration fees (including mine as an adult leader), and then we never heard from them again. No “show up, here’s your troop!” No “contact us so we can figure out where you belong since you’ve already paid your money!” And no response when we asked what to do next. NOTHING.
    Oh, we got weekly emails about how much they needed our financial support and pleas to send more money their way, but we figured since they couldn’t be bothered to actually put us in a program we’d already paid for they could just go @#$% themselves.
    Thin Mints are pretty tasty, though.

  234. OMG thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for taking up this issue!!
    I’ve been saying this for YEARS. I won’t buy the cookies any more because they are ridiculously priced and the money just simply does not come back to the troop girls doing all the work. (And like you pointed out, the girls wouldn’t mind if the money went to support another girl, one who couldn’t otherwise attend an event.) I had NO idea online prices were that high.

    That letter is amazingly assertive. I hope you read it over with Hailey and she realizes what a good job you guys are doing by tackling this head-on??

    People are free to spend $15 on 10 cookies if they so desire, but they need to know EXACTLY where that money is going, instead of the “it’s for the children” answer I always seem to get. And employees DO need salaries and the pensions they were promised. But then let’s be honest about that – the girls are selling a product to pay the administrators. Ok, fine. But then how are we going to support the girls who can’t go to camp this year?


  235. As for pensions, there are lots of oak trees to bunk up with the Keebler elves who must be in cahoots with GS anyway. I say donate directly to a troop, create a scholarship in the name of all Bloggessians/Strangelings.

  236. Will the What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club girls be selling unicorns? Because I’ll pay any shipping price for that.

  237. I had my daughters stop selling cookies because of how little money they bring into the troop. Plus I hated having to deliver them. I was a scout leader, and I sold cookies and did booth sales, but refused to sell cookies otherwise. It is a nightmare for all involved, from picking up to sorting to finding out someone doesn’t want their cookies after a 3 month wait. Our troop only saw $0.40 for each box that were selling at $4.00 a box. It wasn’t worth it, and our other fundraising options through our council were worse. The boxes are smaller with less cookies and cost more every year, and with all the “branding” that Corporate Girl Scouts are doing, you don’t have to wait or crave Girl Scout cookies because you can get Thin Mint Chocolate Quik, Nestle Thin Mint, Samoa, or Tagalong candy bars, any day of the week and the list keeps going.

    I doubt that anything good will come out of their response as they don’t see the leaders and girls leaving for other activities in droves. They are only going to try to (as my husband put it) “Polish a turd”, which will still leave their response a giant turd. Thanks for calling them out on this! May it bring about a revolution. *girl scout salute ~humming “The Hanging Tree”

  238. boy scout popcorn sales = same issues. whoever received 38% back to the troop–congrats. the cost of the popcorn is OUTRAGEOUS and the fundraiser is not to support troops but to pay for councils.

  239. Check out the Girl Scouts CEO and other exec’s salary. Use the web site charity navigator. There is something wrong with a not-for-profit that relies heavily on volunteers on the bottom end but pays six figure salaries to executives. And this is applies to many not-for-profits.

  240. This has been an ongoing problem for a while; maybe not specifically the pension issue, but the amount of money GS get from the sale of a box of cookies. Our Fall Product Sale (and btw Girl Scout candy is adorable and delicious people! I had no idea!) included online sales of photo books and cards with a huge handling fee and then they ALSO charged a huge shipping fee on top of that. I was so angry. So the huge shipping fees for cookies do not at all surprise me. Our council is not participating in online sales this year thankfully. It’s kind of ironic that a company whose stated goal is to teach girls leadership and business skills is so awful at running a decent business model. Still… I LOVE the girls. Girl Scouts gives me a framework as a leader to provide a lot of cool experiences to the girls. I thought about doing Campfire or something else but GS just really has the branding like whoa. I think we’ll just include some badges from Campfire … and BSUSA…. and anywhere else that makes sense for my girls! As for people saying GS are too “girly,” that is ONE troop. Each troop is different depending on the girls in the troop. 🙂 It is supposed to be girl led.

  241. Any other leaders out there, make sure you find out your council rules for opting out of sales. In our council if you do not participate in both fall product sale AND the cookie sale, your troop cannot run any other fundraisers. You can always just buy a few boxes of cookies for yourself and boom, participation, kwim?

  242. My outrage is that I’m pressured into buying crap cookies (“You can choose to have them donated to the [whatever group] instead”) with a net fund raising efficacy of something like 13% ($0.60/$4.00 * 100), and I can’t make a direct to-the-troop contribution on the spot, so have to “Scrooge” the poor little girl doing the soliciting, even though I give to the troop treasury later on.

  243. You are awesome!!!!! Could you please write a letter to lego next, asking them why there’s only one female in a box with 6 people (so, the other five are male). I’m pretty sure that’s not the actual male/female percentage in society and my daughter would really like to play with regular (read- non lego friends) legos while still being able to pretend she is a girl cop (or bad-guy, or firewoman, or whatever).

  244. Good luck. I made the same case 15+ years ago after my girls had broken 1K cookie boxes. We didn’t even next $100.00 for our troop. After that I was like “face it, we do fine with dues. Sell to people you want and if you haven’t gotten a cool cookie patch, let me know. I did soem creative math but not one of my girls ever felt they were lacking in badges/tryits. Yes I was leader AND cookie mom for 6 years straight. And just for MORE fun? I’m a druidic pagan. So no one in my troop had to say the Gd word if they weren’t comfortanble with that. I got sick of high school when I was in high school. GSA at the “pension incurring level” is pretty much an extension of high school. Think about that…a *life long Girl Scout….yeah. I rarely admit to even having been an adult GS (leader). I got sucked in for my kids too….I have no idea where those sashes are even now!

  245. If an actual Girl Scout comes to my door to sell cookies, I donate to their troop (and tell her she can’t use it to pay off the box her dad ate). I figure they make pennies on the box, and a direct $5-10 can do better for the troop. Who knows if that is where the money ends up, but I don’t need the cookies.

  246. I grew up in Idaho and the Scouts were pretty much run by the Mormon church. I liked to get the science badges and nerd stuff and that was my second mistake, first was not being Mormon. Then when they would do girlie stuff they would never let me participate… I finally called my troop leader a bitch…. At 8 years old and got dismissed from scouts. I’m sure it can be a great program but leadership can blow. Still, it’s fun to tell people I got kicked out of grill scouts for calling my leader a bitch… Makes me feel all gangsta.b

  247. A lot of the pension questions a covered at

    I can’t speak to the revenue share, but as for the salaries, just because the GSA is in the business of helping people doesn’t mean that those in charge shouldn’t hey paid. I see lots of amazement that people running what in the corporate would would be large field offices are making $120k and that the CEO of a massively complex national organization makes more. Really? Those salaries are below market for the for-profit world already. It’s hard enough to convince people to go into an NPO position anyway, dramatically underpaying them (while complaining that they’re not properly communicating nuances of federal pension law across a national organization) wouldn’t help.

    I suggest to anyone who’s honestly curious about the role of compensation in nonprofits. It can be eye-opening.

  248. I can answer one question. It is not 11 dollars to sell one box. If you order cookies for shipping, it’s a minimum of three or six boxes. As a mom who has shipped cookies in years passed, this is less than I have paid. No idea why they wouldn’t have told you that? Secondly, here cookies are 4.00. Our troop gets 50 cents or 1 dollar for each box (council pays us extra for each box sent to the U.S. mil). The girls get .25 cents per box to be used towards camp, membership fees, or uniforms. Each girl that sell 150 boxes gets free membership for the next year. These last two incentives DO give low income families the ability to participate without cost. In addition to these things, the girls get patches and awards at different levels of cookie sales including gift cards to visa, Walmart, best buy, american girl. Our daughter sold 650 boxes last year, earning 300-400 dollars for her troop, free membership for herself, paid for one weekend camp, and one full week camp, in addition to patches and prizes. She was also responsible for sending over 100 boxes to the U.S. Mil serving overseas. Her father serves in the USAF and has personally seen and consumed the MANY MANY MANY packages of cookies donated to our troops.

    (That sounds awesome! That is really different from our incentives according to the literature I’ve been given. Hailey sold almost 100 boxes last year (and a ton were donated to the military) and she got some patches and a bandana, and her troop raised enough money to pay for the curriculum supplies she had to buy from The Girl Scouts for the next year. I’m looking at our cookie rewards and if i’m reading it right, a girl who sells 400 boxes will get 50 cents per box. She can opt to get prizes but that cuts down on the profit the girls get, as their portion pays for their incentives, but I don’t see anything about free camp. Maybe it’s because we live in the city? Or maybe it’s unstated? The biggest prize you get for selling 400 cookies in our district is a wristlet wallet or $10 in cookie credits. (Plus the smaller prizes you get along the way like a bandana for selling 55 boxes, a water bottle for selling 130 boxes, etc.) If you sell over a thousand you can get a season pass to Six Flags, though. Maybe there’s additional information I just don’t have. That’s why I’d like it to be clearly laid out online. ~ Jenny)

  249. After reading your blog and some of the comments, I wanted to make copies of your words and give one to each girl who offered to sell me cookies..but that doesn’t seem fair to the girls who probably know nothing about the financial aspect. Sure hope the powers that be get your comments and address them. SMH…another example of corporate mismanagement, if not outright greed.

  250. I vote Karrah M’s local council be put in charge of National. If I had dgotten any support at all, never mind that level, I’d have been ecstatic. What I got, after waiting forever to find anything out was criticism from the ‘coucil’ for not doing things through my direct supervisors, whom had never even attempted to contact me. And after my kids were grown past Brownies, I volunteered to co-lead a troop and got no takers, BTW. So I flew up with my girls.

    But nothing ever happened like what Karrah’s talking about. Bravo for having a good council Oh, btw, my kids got that financial aid thing. It covered a week for each kid if I worked 2 weeks as a volunteer.

    (Amen. I’m not sure why there’s such a difference between councils, but I would guess it’s the same reason why Girl Scout cookies sell for $3.50 – $6 a box depending on your location and choice. From the Girl Scouts website: “Packages of Girl Scout Cookies sell for different prices in different areas of the country. Each of the 112 Girl Scout councils sets its own price, based on its needs and its knowledge of the local market.” I guess it makes sense from a marketing perspective, but it seems odd. ~ Jenny)

  251. I would like to stay anonymous because my younger daughter loves girl scouts so I will let her continue. I have two daughters and insisted my older daughter quit because I NEVER trusted this organization… and still don’t. Honestly, its not just the cookie sales..its everything they do. They are a bunch of crooks!

  252. I am a Girl Scout leader who has become fed up with the whole process. Selling cookies has taken over and I felt like my troop spent too much time on selling cookies and not enough on the fun educational stuff you normally use to do in scouts. We made it completely optional to sell cookies this year in our troop and needless to say I will NOT be participating – no painful booth sales for any of us! Great letter, and I would love to join your doctor who/zombie apocalypse club!

  253. Never had to worry about GS sales, just school fundraising sales (because Dog forbid that we, as a society, adequately fund education when obviously all we need to do to improve it is demonize teachers and make them miserable and their jobs impossible). We’ve always just made a donation rather than forcing our daughter to sell brightly colored trash bags. But when she and her Anime Club friends wanted to go to JapanFest, they took it on themselves to sell cookies and cupcakes outside a local high-end grocery store to raise the money.

    All of which is beside the point.

    About this club: is there a newsletter we can sign up for?

  254. You are awesome. Very well written, all excellent points which I doubt you will ever get answers to. I have had issues with the girl scouts for years. We need more organizations for our little girls!

  255. Ugh, we have been fighting with our council for two years now because we do not like how we are treated when it comes to cookie sales. They decided that council would take proceeds directly from our troop account, i would be personally responsible for cookies and money for our troop as the cookie mom and if something went wrong, I would be banned as a volunteer. Also, they wanted troops to take credit cards at booth sales, and troops would have to eat the processing fees out of profits. We never made much money on cookies, and only had one parent who objected to not selling cookies.

  256. I’m a new leader, but here in Los Angeles, we get $0.95-1.05 per box, which sells for $5. We did not opt in to online sales as our council thought it best to wait another year or more for bugs to get worked out. There are a whole bunch of smaller incentives earned according to an individual girl’s sales from a patch, to a special day at Disney, and other things. I don’t like the direct sales approach which is new because it puts pressure to estimate well what you’ll sell. For a new troop, that’s hard. So this year, we will estimate conservatively and be as low key as we can. Then once we also do nuts in fall, we can do other fundraisers on our own here. BTW, we do need to participate in both nuts and cookies to be allowed to do our own thing, but there’s no minimum on sales. The pension issue is upsetting, and I hope Gsusa gets through it because they are inclusive, and nonreligious, and have great outdoor and stem programs in CA, at least. We are allowed to not say “god” in the promise. we say “community” instead,for ex.

    I hope if you do get good answers that you follow up with a lot of support for GSUSA, to offset the negative publicity which can hurt sales, for sure. Maybe encourage people to volunteer, or start their own troops. As troop leaders, we really set the tone and focus of each troop. It’s fun!

    (That estimation thing really threw me but I was told not to worry about it. Hailey made a goal of selling 100 boxes – this was when I was still thinking I’d have answers and before they told us about shipping – and I made sure to say that this was just her goal and to make sure it wasn’t what she’d actually be responsible for. I was told it was just a goal to shoot for but it seemed so odd that they’d even ask for a number in writing. Also, you can get the same cookies in San Antonio for $3.50 a box but yours are $5.00 a box, with double the profit going to your troop. I’m sure there’s a valid reason why but I wish we knew what the reasoning was. It seems like letting the actual troops help make the decision on pricing would be a good financial lesson. ~ Jenny)

  257. What confuses me is how little the girls get from cookie sales, whereas the cub/boy scouts get 60% from popcorn sales. I will make donations (not buy cookies) this year as well.

  258. Girl Scout cookies:

    1. are ridiculously over-priced, and the profits don’t go directly to the scouts who sold the cookies, but instead into the pockets of the well-paid top execs of the organization.
    2. aren’t gluten-free, so I can’t eat them.
    3. don’t really taste very good, they seem to have changed the recipe from when I was a kid, so I’m not even tempted to sneak a couple.
    4. OMG, the crap on the ingredient deck!

    So the moral of this story is: it’s best to donate twenty bucks directly to the troop and then go to a nice local gluten-free bakery and buy myself a gluten-free cookie as a reward!

    (I’ve heard they do have a gluten-free cookie this year. It’s more expensive than the other cookies and I have no idea how it tastes, but supposedly it’s out there in limited numbers. ~ Jenny)

  259. Just wanted to mention, which is a co-ed, secular scouting program. My church (UU) is starting a troop.

  260. So a couple more thoughts.

    1. Someone on the thread said that none of the money from a box of cookies goes to the GSUSA. That is indeed what they will tell you in their cookie FAQ, but they do say: “Girl Scouts of the USA is paid a royalty by its licensed bakers for use of Girl Scout trademarks based on gross annual sales. Girl Scout councils do not provide any portion of their cookie revenue to Girl Scouts of the USA, and no other revenue from cookie sales goes to Girl Scouts of the USA.” …If they’re being paid a royalty by the licensed bakers, that’s just a less-honest way of taking a cut. If it were something straightforward like N cents per box we could look at it and know how much was going to the national organization, but instead, we have no way of knowing what the actual net it.
    2. This FAQ does NOT tell you what percentage of the $4 goes to Troop, Council, and bakery.

    3. I did find that info for New York on another site: “For each box sold, 85 cents per box goes to the baker to cover production, packaging, shipping of the cookies to the troop, and other incidental costs. Out of the remaining $2.65, 50 to 57 cents goes to the selling troop.” (The .50 vs .57 is dependent on whether the troop does prizes for individual girls who sell a lot — the troop is supposed to decide as a group whether or not to do them. If they decide to forgo the prizes the troop gets more money per box.) “Of the remaining funds, about 1 penny per box goes to the neighborhood “service unit” — another level of scouting — and stays within the community. The rest goes to the regional council […] to fund local programming, support summer camps, train adult volunteers, and so on.”

    Soooooo okay. That was from the $3.50 era of cookie pricing, I think. They’ve raised it to $4. But that is, at minimum, $2/box sold that goes to the local councils. How can they possibly be struggling with financial problems?

    1. I found another article, more recent. about Minnesota, the Girl Scouts River Valley Council (which is local to me, I think). It is described as the “41,000-strong Girl Scouts River Valleys council” (I assume they mean there are 41,000 girls); they sold 4.3 million boxes. At $2/box for the Council, that is $8.6 million. Or $210 per girl served. Given that money does not come from the Council to run the troops — they are supposed to use dues + their cookie money for general operations — that seems like a really generous amount of money for paying the central staff, running the camps, etc.

    They also break down the cost with a bit more specificity. They say that of a $4 box, $1.08 goes to the bakery to pay for the cost of baking and transporting the cookies. (That seems like a lot to me, honestly. I am really curious about the wholesale price of Keebler Grasshopper cookies, given that they are essentially a knock-off, though no doubt shipping out cookies by the case rather than the pallet adds to the cost, and GS cookies also come in sturdy cardboard boxes.) Then $0.84 goes to the troop. There’s $0.76 to “volunteer support to train and screen the volunteers.” Obviously volunteers should be screened, but this makes me wonder whether the GS council does NOT require potential volunteers to pay for their own background checks? Most organizations I’ve volunteered with have expected me to pay them $5-$25 to check on whether I’m a criminal or not. Then $0.61 “to upgrade the camps and subsidize the cost to make it more affordable for scouts who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate.” Hmm, okay. Maybe in Minnesota they actually upgrade the camps. I checked out the website for the horrible, badly run Girl Scout camp I had the bad fortune to attend in Wisconsin as a child, and it has not been upgraded in any way. It was latrines and platform tents in 1982, and it’s latrines and platform tents now. (It’s also in danger of closing because no one wants to send their kids there — and good for them, I wouldn’t trust them with a child even now.) Then they say, $0.49 goes toward “leadership programs” which they describe as “overarching programming experience,” and … um, huh, I really want that translated with more specificity than they’re offering. And then $0.22 goes to “local administrative offices and support.”

    It’s not that I think non-profit full-time workers should be volunteers. Successful nonprofits need real employees who make a living wage and get benefits. But looking more deeply into the numbers only reinforces my sense that something sketchy is going on here.

  261. The pattern of indentations there seems really random. I wasn’t quoting and responding; I have quotations in quotation marks embedded in my own paragraphs. Hopefully no one will get too confused.

  262. As a former GS leader/cookiemom, (back in the dark ages when cookies were $2.50 & $3.00 a box!) corporate has always had an image problem. They are a corporation – non profit or not. And like many corporations, they often have people managing their money who can’t balance their own checkbooks. They need to revamp their program from top to bottom. I spent a lot of time in the trenches with GS and my girls (and my son who had to tag along!) learned a lot and did a lot of great service projects. The basics of the program is great… it’s the details where they get lost.
    Oh as as another GF person (wheat allergic) Telzeyamberdon – I totally agree – the cookies have lost quality in the interest of being a certain price point, and their GF cookies are hard to find and really don’t taste good. I’m also in the give the local troop $20 camp! If they’re trying to teach girls how to be healthy – why are they promoting such a chemical laden product to sell?

  263. Jenny, you are amaze-balls. You are the change (and the beautifully posed questions) so many of us long to see in the world. As you are able, keep up the mighty damn -fine work!

  264. This all makes me not to want to buy girl scout cookies, and I was a girl scout growing up and went to a wonderful girl scout camp.

  265. My daughter did girl scouts for a few years, and while I think it started out as an honorable and worthwhile organization, it seems to me it has turned into a bit of a scam. I had the same issue w/ the cookie sales when I found out the troop only gets back 60 cents on a FOUR dollar box of cookies. WTH? Where is the money going? Plus, all the work going into cookie sales was done by volunteers. So volunteers were basically working to pay the salaries of the GS employees back at the corporate offices. That’s some business model. I can’t say w/ certainty how it all really worked, but to me it wasn’t adding up. It unfortunate, but I didn’t really trust the organization after that.

  266. Holy old cheezits. So, from what I’m understanding, they’re using under age girls to sell their product, and aren’t paying for what the girls are doing. Free labour, under the guise of benefitting others, while they rake in the profits.

    Name another situation where that’s even legal.

  267. I’m a former Girl Scout and leader. As a scout, cookies were not the main push for my troop – yet I went to camp at least twice a year and participated in many community service projects. Fond memories! My daughter (with me as a leader) stayed in Scouts through Brownies, Juniors and one year of Cadets. She may have continued, but I just couldn’t stomach the bureaucracy and silly rules the Council forced upon the troops. I wasn’t the cookie mom, but went with my co-leader to the mandatory cookie rally (can’t sell cookies unless someone in the troop goes). That rally was the wake-up call of all that is wrong with Girl Scouts today. It’s really a shame that the scouts are simply the pawns that the Councils use to fund their corporate lifestyle.

    Question authority! It should be a merit badge – but it will get you kicked out of Girl Scouts.

  268. Jenny, you are my hero. I mean, you always are, but this time extremely again some more.

    I had a girl scout leader whose husband managed a building supply store, so we did crafts like grouting tile trivets. That part was pretty ok. And my mom still uses that trivet 25 years later.

    Then we moved and I wanted to continue scouts, but my mom wasn’t friends with the right moms to get me into the scout troop at my new school. For one full school year, she actually picked me up and drove me to my old school so I could still participate.

    As an extremely shy child, cookie time was always painful for me. With a small family that couldn’t afford more than a couple of boxes of cookies, not many neighbors, not being church-goers, and parents who refused to take cookie forms to work (because then they’d have to buy stuff we couldn’t afford from other people’s kids), I think I managed to sell about 20 boxes a year and was made to feel awful and inferior because other girls in my troop (or their pushy parents, that is) sold hundreds. It was an early lesson on how tough the world is for introverts.

    Hailey is lucky to have you. You are doing a very good thing here.

  269. I have been the assistant troop leader for my daughter’s troop since the day she joined 6+ years ago and though many of your questions are valid ones there are many things that I would like to say on the subject of Girl Scouts, cookies, and volunteerism in general.
    Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois is not a council full of fat cats getting rich off of the backs of little girls. I can’t give you exact numbers but the poverty level is high here especially since there aren’t any truly big cities in our council to boost our numbers. I know there are money issues. They announced this year they are closing Camp Cedar Point which is going to break my daughter’s heart since she wanted to go there “for forever” and be a counselor when she grew up. It has very little to do with pensions and very much to do with people not being able to afford $250 for camp, rising food costs, and my council having to have a legal battle with volunteers who keep the cookie money.
    I know that as a troop leader, I don’t share the background drama with our parents. We had a parent that sold & delivered cookies and kept the money. The way that cookies work is that a person orders cookies, the troop places the order, we get the cookies, the buyer pays either in cash or a check to the troop and the troop pays for the cookies ordered. If the troop doesn’t pay for the cookies ordered, they become a troop that isn’t in good standing and all of the scholarships for girls in the troop go away, we can’t participate in council programs and on on. So we took a $500 hit. So the parents see this as us “not doing much,” not taking their girls camping, or roller skating, or whatever, when the reality is my troop leader and I put our own money in on a regular basis to do what we can for these girls. And our girls earn patches and actually do things. Am I mad at council for not taking care of this better, yes but only in that I feel there should have been more legal repercussions for the mom than just being served with a bad debt. I know, however, that my troop’s $500 is a drop in the bucket from what is happening country-wide (this can be seen even just in this comment thread).
    I can honestly say that I see the good that Girl Scouts can do when the girls are given good people. I am not just saying this because I am a troop leader. I dropped out of Brownies in 3rd grade. My troop leaders sat in a corner and smoked while we painted plaster statues, ALL THE TIME. I know that we aren’t a perfect troop but I have watched these girls grow up and yes we have had people filter in and out but our core group of girls are without a doubt confident, outspoken little girls who love each other and really want to help other people and that makes me very proud. I am very involved with my service unit and you can definitely see the difference in troops that are on mission and troops that aren’t. Even though the other troops may go camping and do things in the end they always fold and girls get left out.
    I know I sound like I drank the Kool-Aid and maybe I have but the real problem in Girl Scouts is not that the girls get $.70/box (more if they opt out of the cheap prizes) it is that this organization that thrives on volunteers is suffering due to volunteers who may start out planning to help girls but for whatever reason end up stealing from the organization that they started out helping to begin with.

    (I don’t think anyone thinks the local councils are over-paid. In fact, there have been lots of lay-offs and shut-downs of local councils because of the financial situation and this additional debt will fall to the local council’s budget starting tomorrow so they will be even more stretched and unable to provide so many of the things the girls need. Personally, we mostly do troop meetings in empty school rooms and we bring our own snacks and such. The moms all volunteer and carpool the girls. The few times we do an actual activity like kayaking, camping or such we parents mostly fund it ourselves. I don’t expect the council to help my troop because luckily we’re able to pay for the few things we do ourselves, but I want the councils to still keep the camps open, offer scholarships, help at-risk girls, etc. and I suspect they want that as well, but I’m not sure if that’s still going to happen at the same level it was in the past. ~ Jenny)

  270. I think one thing people should understand is that all councils are different. I’m in your neighboring council and I feel our council is run well, providing lots of fun, inexpensive activities in different areas of the council, so lots of girls can participate. Council and area weekend camping events are very inexpensive and even when we fully pay for summer camp, it is two to three times less expensive than other alternatives. Cookie sales run the council, and we are working as much for all of the girls that benefit from that as we are for our troop. If that involves some pensions, I’m fine with it. However, if our camps were currently being sold, I felt bad decisions were being made with no transparency, or I stopped feeling like our council was not working for the girls, I would not want my daughter to sell cookies.

    It is right for you and me and others to question whether or not the organization is working for our girls and living the ethical code it teaches. Girl Scouts at the national and council level is tasked with the difficult task of living by the Girl Scout Law. For those who don’t know, that involves being honest, fair, using resources wisely, and to not just speak up when you see something wrong, but to take action–something that happens every time someone writes a blog post that gets 300 responses.

    It is a tall order to run a national org, business, (or a life) based on the ethics espoused by the GS law–and I feel for them. It’s difficult. Mistakes will be made! But we need those ethics in the world today and girls need to see the adults trying–and that includes answering phone calls and dealing honestly and thoughtfully with criticism.

    (I want to high-five this comment. Also, I agree that pensions that were promised should be paid for. As I understand it, their pension program was frozen in 2010 when the recession and other issues caused the pension fund to be underfunded by $347 million dollars. They now have to start making up that money starting today and that debt repayment (as I understand it) is coming from the local councils budgets. The exception is if you are one of the very few councils that had not opted in for pensions years ago. I think around 90% of the local councils had opted in though, so today starts very different budget issue than we’ve ever seen before and I still don’t have any verbiage that says how exactly it will affect our community. This might be a very small issue that’s causing more concern than necessary but it’s disheartening for me that we still don’t have a simple answer. At the very least I hope this will spur the Girl Scouts on to create better communication channels with faster responses. ~ Jenny)

  271. I have been a GS leader and Cookie mom for 5 years, and I started helping at a Service Unit level last year. ALL of the cookie proceeds (after the bakery is paid) goes to the Council and its troops. The amount each girl and troop gets varies by council, but all of the money stays local to support girl programs and yes to pay council staff. I know it’s different everywhere, but where I am our Council is extremely supportive and runs 5 campsites. None of the cookie money goes to National Headquarters. Here’s a link to some facts about where cookie money goes:

    Digital cookies are new so we will see what improvements happen over the course of time. However, the shipping that you are referring to would be for a case of cookies, not one box. Some councils are requiring online sales to be by half or full case. Our council is allowing sales by box, and the shipping prices change to reflect how many boxes you buy. It’s also important to remember that shipping is higher because they are ensuring chocolate flavors will not melt. The only $1.25 fee I’m aware of is if someone buys online to donate. Those cookies are taken care of at a council level and go to cover that cost. So even though the girl you are buying from directly gets the sale, she’s not the one doing the legwork for those donations through online sales.

    I hope this helps. Girl Scouts is a lot of work for volunteers and parents, as well as being a traditional institution. There is a high standard to live up to. Girl Scouts has done wonders to boost my daughters self-esteem, giving nature, and has so many other benefits. Girl Scouts not only have fun and learn new skills, they are constantly giving back to the community. When you buy cookies you are donating to that girl, the camp she goes to, and the charitable activities she will work on (plus about a dozen other girl experiences). Pretty soon you’re going to see girls freezing their tushes off in your neighborhood and at local stores. If you’re so inclined please support them.

  272. My concern is the switch to a direct-sales model for cookie sales–that is, girls buy the cookies up front before taking orders, try to sell them, and are financially responsible whether the cookies sell or not. Passing the financial risk on to children? Dirty pool!

    (I’m not a fan of that either. That’s why Hailey mainly did booth sales outside grocery stores or just sold to family. I was hoping the online sales would be similar to Amazon. She’d make the pitch online and then people could order from her link and her troop would get a cut of the profit. As it is, it involves sending emails to everyone and then having to go in and approve the emails and then dealing with the delivery and all of that. Plus, she’s 10 so she’s not old enough to do that which means I’d be the one responsible for approving all the sales and answering emails and sending emails. I get that it’s really easy to see the downside when you’re not the one doing it but it seems like there could have been a much simpler way, or at least better communication and transparency. But maybe this is good. Maybe the Girl Scouts weren’t aware of the issue and this will improve them in some ways. ~ Jenny)

  273. Good for you for writing the letter, and I hope you eventually get a response that makes sense. I had a less-than-positive experience with Girl Scouts as a child, but my daughter had a very positive experience in Brownies when we were stationed in South Dakota in the mid-90’s. The leaders were caring, compassionate people who related well to the girls and to the parents. I have generally positive feelings toward the Girl Scouts for all the good they have done, and especially for their nondiscrimination policies, which have been much more progressive than the Boy Scouts. I was never Cookie Mom (and all praise and power to those who were/are), but I was Recycling Mom, so I was often rattling around in a van full of cans headed for the Can Bank. Good times. If the organization is to continue doing good things in the world, then I think you are asking all the right questions. I’m involved with several nonprofit organizations, and I know that times are tough all over in the nonprofit world, but that’s all the more reason for the national organization to be as straightforward and transparent as possible, and to make their case for local troops, camps AND pensions, which are all completely worthwhile. If they can’t do that,then they need to initiate whatever investigation and regrouping is necessary to bring all of their finances out into the open, and meanwhile, judging from all the comments here, they need to do a MUCH better job of generating good will through the various Councils. And yes, the shipping costs do sound completely outrageous. I can’t believe there isn’t some kind of an alternative. As for “Processing fees,” as others have mentioned, those are probably from the banks, for credit card purchases, and that amount sounds more in line with what I’ve seen before than those shipping costs. At any rate, I do hope you get answers to your questions, which seem to be questions a lot of people have been asking, and that the organization will ultimately be better for taking the time to answer them. Best of luck to you and your daughter.

  274. I was totally bummed when I learned that the Girl Scouts closed a Scout camp a number of years ago that was absolutely stellar. I am speaking of NORWESCO, that was outside Appleton, Wisconsin. It was a large camp with focuses in a number of areas so that there literally was something for every girl that went there. The land was gorgeous. It was on a lake so that swimming and canoeing were taught. I have never found a good explanation of why the camp was closed. It is shameful that it was because it was a very valuable addition to the scouting experience. I went to NORWESCO and the memories of that camp are among my most treasured. If it was closed due to these issues, I’d really like an accounting of what was done with the money. I love it that you and Hailey are going after answers!!!

  275. I wonder why these problems do not exist in the boy scouting program??

    (The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are not related. The Boy Scouts do good stuff but they have their own unique set of problems. Honestly, I’m much happier with the Girl Scouts from a civil rights perspective. ~ Jenny)

  276. You are such a great example to your daughter! These questions deserve answers and so often these inquiries are met with silence. I’m glad you pushed it to the next level and made the effort for Hailey. Good luck!

  277. My daughter quit the GS thirty years ago when the troop leader always complained about the girls who forgot the weekly dues money. The day she said “Girls, I need to stop for bread & milk after the meeting and I need your dues!” my daughter never went back.

  278. Keebler Grasshoppers, at Amazon, free shipping, $19.07/six ten ounce packages. Not quite wholesale, but 3.17/box. Zero goes to GSUSA
    Girl Scout Thin Mints are down to 9 ounce packages. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing, when I eat one sleeve at a sitting.) $4 a box, $0.60 goes to the troop (or more if they sell above a certain threshold), the rest bails out the pension fund and then after that becomes available for camps, scholarships, support of low-income troops, etc.

    They are selling a premium item. That’s why people buy so much. But that leaves less profit to be split up. The could sell popcorn, or oversize candy bars, or wrapping paper, or all the other stuff our kids have to sell, but I think they’ve got a good thing going, all in all.

    I do have problems with their constantly-changing programs and the training requirements that hold back adult leaders from actually doing fun things with the girls. (e.g., you can’t camp in tents until you’ve attended several weekend trainings, in sequence, that are only offered once a year). That’s probably a results of their insurance company’s requirements — I checked Navigators USA, and they are spending $250-$500 per year per troop on insurance for their unstructured program.

    (I’m off subject but Keebler Grasshoppers are similar, but are no Thin Mints. Similar, but not available in dark chocolate like Thin Mints. I need my dark chocolate. But I get what you’re saying. ~ Jenny)

  279. Thank you for a well thought out letter. I am sure many of us are waiting for a response. The things we do for our kids; I was a cub scout leader for over 5 yrs, a few yrs with boy scouts plus on my 5th yr as GS leader. Transparency within my GS council hasn’t been too great either. A few years ago when national allowed council’s to charge dues for girls up to the amount that national charged ($15), my council, immediately jumped to charge the full allowed amount. so $15 to national and $15 to council; it may not sound like a lot, but the dues doubled suddenly. And in the same breath, council said they would no longer offer a number of services to troops & that individual leaders would have to take care of those items. So increased fees but decreased services.
    As for cookies, our scouts up to juniors (5th grade) can earn between 40-75 cents per $4 box of cookies, depending on the average number of boxes sold by girls in the troop. Middle school aged scouts and older can opt to skip the prizes of stuffed animals, key chains, sweat shirts, note pads, etc, and get a higher profit per box but the whole troop must agree. Council does not allow tracking or linking cookie profits to individual scouts and all profits are pooled into a troop account. So no one scout can be awarded free membership or discounted camping unless the troop does the same for every scout in the troop. Last year my troop sold enough to pay for their big trips and other activities and had enough left over that each scout received her new vest and patches for their bridging ceremony. But every scout received that and I would not have been able to say girl “x” sold over 150 boxes so gets the vest while girl “y” sold only 50 boxes so doesn’t. In addition, our council does not allow outside fundraising unless the troop participates in both the fall QSP nut/magazine sale AND the cookie sale. And by participate, each registered scout must sell items and have a certain average per girl. Daiseys (kindergarten and 1st graders) and no longer allowed any outside fundraising starting this year. In addition, each outside fundraiser still must be approved well ahead of time (and not all are, although specific directions saying why or why not are not clear).

  280. I was a Girl Scout Leader for 13 years (Daisy to Senior) with my daughter’s troop. These issues existed to some extent while she was involved, but nothing like this. We had a good local Council and tons of volunteers. After my daughter graduated, we moved to another town, so I hadn’t kept up with the local concerns. My former co-leader contacted me last year to let me know that GS was looking at selling all of our camps. Like you, I was appalled that such important resources were being eliminated from the program. Jenny, you are asking the right questions, and I hope you will share their answer with us if you get one.

    (Side note on pensions: those of us who have them worked many years to earn that pension and it is not fair to the pensioners that the company, organization, etc. did not manage their finances responsibly. USPS just got screwed by Congress. Tell me of ANY organization that has to fund pensions out 75 years? They’re funding pensions for people not even born yet. Don’t come down too hard on pensions, they are a promise that recently has been reneged on for so many people. If companies cannot provide pensions, then they should take them out of their benefit package, but that does not release them from the responsibility of paying out pensions for retirees. End of rant.)

  281. Jenny, you once again humble me with your eloquence.

    My daughter has been a scout for three years and this is my first year being involved at all. I’m now the troop leader and I’m still reeling from the nonsense from the council. As far as I can tell they are there to make my life difficult with forms, obligations that have nothing to do with my girls, and policies that make organizing troop activities more difficult. Then they get all the money from the cookie sales?!

    There is no incentive for larger productivity in cookie sales for the girls with the way that this sale is structured. Even when funds go to the council for supporting camps etc. the individual girls in the troops don’t SEE that contribution. Allow the girls to directly earn money on the sales they make. Then allow them to use the money to make a conscious and intentional contribution to the areas of Girl Scouting that are most meaningful to them. It would would make the sale such a better learning experience for them on both money management and donation.

    The national Girl Scout agenda and philosophy is wonderful and I love the things they are trying to teach girls. But the layers of bureaucracy between the national level and the troops themselves have created a lumbering behemoth. Sixty cents a box on a $4.00 sale? It’s absurd.

    I am sincerely grateful for your post and am eagerly awaiting an update if/when the Girl Scouts responds.

  282. Well done Jenny.
    You should be able to expect that if Girl Scouts are selling cookies, that the money goes towards good causes, and that organizations such as Girl Scouts will continue into the future; teaching our kids morals, values, and allowing them to be exposed to social activism, not have all the good work undermined due to bad financial arrangements.

    I truly hope you get a positive answer on this one, and if not, at least can get pointed in the right direction to have this issues seriously looked at with the hope of resolution.
    At the least it will teach your daughter the importance of activism, rather than sitting around waiting for things to improve on their own, which of course rarely happens.

    I on the other hand had a pretty negative experience with Cub Scouts, lasting less than a year; but I think that’s more about my then undiagnosed social anxiety, and other assortment of mental health issues.

    My daughter has also been with the Girl Scouts, but I would expect her involvement is somewhat reduced now, as she fights what looks to be a losing battle with cancer, having lost her leg last year, and with the cancer returning and spreading, things are pretty grim for her; and me as her father (though I have little communication with her, due to divorce from her mother over a decade ago, and the fact she’s now in her teens, and Dad isn’t cool enough to hang out with).

    I hope your issue has a better resolution than mine, and that the New Year brings better things.
    Whereas, I feel inclined to spend 2015 alternating between staying in bed, walking my dog, and pensively smoking and drinking, and wishing each year would be better than the last, whilst realizing that in my case, each year seems to get worse.
    Thankfully I’ve got a good psych and doctor (as well as meds) to help get me through, but life with mental illness, and on the Autism Spectrum is challenging enough, without having to go through more stress than even a “normal” person could cope with.

    Happy 2015, and hopefully this year will bring more good things than bad.

    (Amen. Sending love to you and your daughter. Keep breathing and remember that depression lies. ~ Jenny)

  283. I have zero interest in girl scouts, but when/if you get the “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club” off the ground? I’m SO in.

  284. I would think that the reason you’re not able to get clear answers is that the highest reaches of the organization allow such freedom and decisions to be made at all the lower levels. That’s great for the local counsels to be able to serve their unique communities, but means that there’s no one place to go for answers.
    I hope you’re able to get your answers.

  285. I was in the Girl Scouts in the 70s and I still twitch when I hear cookie time mentioned. (The calendars were even worse–at least people want cookies!) I am not a natural saleswoman and dreaded meeting even the 15 box minimum. My main memory from Girl Scouts is how awesome my mom is. She was troop leader and district cookie coordinator and never did anything but say okay when I up and quit.

  286. I’d be interested in knowing what a “normal” sales commission is in various industries. Perhaps for some industries, that 60-cents-out-of-four-dollars (or whatever) would not be seen as unreasonable.

  287. My dad has worked for the GS, maintaining a great camp for 43 years. Believe me, he has not gotten rich off cookie sales! Any organization can mismanage finances, and councils have a lot of independence, but I agree that girls shouldn’t have to pay for it! I always hated selling cookies myself.

  288. I am a Mother of 4 and have been a 4H Club Leader for past 3 yrs. I invite you and your daughter to check out the 4H Organization. They will offer you so many different project choices, community service and resources with out the pressure of selling cookies or paying pensions. No 2 clubs are identical. Your new 4H club could be ANYTHING you want it to be! All you need is 2 unrelated adults over 18 yrs old and 5 kids to start a club of your own! You can choose a club specialty or vote every year on a different club project every school year and your child can do any others they choose on their own time. ( click on curriculum) This organization is about each and every child FIRST. We’re talking Equality!
    As for fundraisers, there is no cookie or popcorn sales. It will only be as stressful as you want it to be. The club decides how many events and activities to do per year. There is a chart and reward/recognition chart “Standards of Excellence.” We get $300+ for participating in the local county Fair Booth contest and volunteer 2 hrs at the 4H info booth. Our County 4H agents arrange fun event and 2 fundraisers= 5K run/walk & T-shirt sales. This money goes towards 4H college scholarships, prize awards at the Fair, and the program itself. Here is the 4H Creed:
    “The 4-H Creed”

    ” I believe in 4-H Club work for the opportunity it gives me to become a useful citizen.
    I believe in the training of my HEAD for the power it will give me to think, plan and reason.
    I believe in the training of my HEART for the nobleness it will give me to be kind, sympathetic and true.
    I believe in the training of my HANDS for the ability it will give me to be helpful, skillful and useful.
    I believe in the training of my HEALTH for the strength it will give me to enjoy life, resist disease and work efficiently.
    I believe in my country, my state, my community, and in my responsibility for their development.
    In all these things I believe, and I am willing to dedicate my efforts to their fulfillment.”

    Lastly, on a personal note: one of my daughters suffers from Autism, OCD and Anxiety and this has given her an accepting, encouraging environment to grow and learn project areas and how to speak in front of an audience and serve the community. My highschoolers were able to earn volunteer time in a safe supervised environment for college scholarships/graduating requirements. Happy New Year! “Join 4H! To Make the Best Better!”

  289. I invite you and your daughter to check it out! Waaay better! You only need 2 unrelated adults to lead the club and a min of 5 kids to start your own 4H club! I have been a 4H Leader for 3 yrs. I posted a longer letter to you but I don’t see it on this site now.

  290. The $10.95 shipping is for 6 boxes, not 1 box. There is a minimum order of 6 – which is not clearly explained either. I have the same issues and have already fired off several emails (as I did during N&C sales) today. I look forward to what they respond as to the pension issue. In our council we earn 63 cents per box (plus an additional 2 cents if we avg 150 per girl). This rate of compensation has been the same for the last 3 years (so no change to troop profit due to pension issue). The camp thing is a SERIOUS issue and this pension thing has been on the horizon. Our GS money is being seriously mismanaged by the NY who think we need those fancy offices. We are GS- they should be “roughing it” in a camp property or at a minimum in LESS than what they do now. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the offices were in an area of at risk girls? They could then not only reach out and help but see first hand what GS should really be offering these girls and their communities.

    (1. I love your idea about offices being in the areas of at-risk girls. 2. I just tested it on Hailey’s page and you absolutely can buy one box of cookies and pay $11.25 shipping. Maybe it’s different in your location, but here it’s possible. Here’s a picture: Also, even if you choose to donate cookies to the USO you still have to pay a $1.25 handling fee. ~ Jenny)

  291. I think the bigger question here is, pension? Who’s getting the pension? Isn’t this a non-profit organization whose only mandate is to benefit children, namely girls? Am I erroneous in my understanding that these were volunteer positions? Do all those parents coaching little league baseball, soccer, minor football, minor hockey – do they all get pensions? WTF?

    (The leaders and volunteers are unpaid. The people who work full-time in the local and national councils get salaries and sometimes pensions. And actually if they’re doing a good job I think they should be getting paid. It’s a job, after all and it takes a level of expertise to communicate, direct, and keep a company of this size financially solvent. I can’t defend some of their choices but paying people with specific expertise to keep a non-profit successful and organized is necessary. ~ Jenny)

  292. #337 commission at a office supply chain I work at is 5-10%, which is a ripoff seeing as how commission sales rarely go above $60.

    So are they charging more for cookies sold in person, and if you buy them online is it shipping+delivery fee? Why the hell is selling cookies so complicated?! I just want to eat delicious cookies without being guilt charged! Like “You want this box of thin mints? Well too bad! Give me $15 and I’ll throw them on the front porch all melty and you’ll feel bad for having spent so much just to eat some cookies.” (Of course not from the perspective of a child selling the cookies, but from whoever wants to build themselves a new in-ground pool that they never invite anyone over to.)

  293. I’m a troop leader in Ohio, and I can say it’s totally sad that we don’t get more of the money from fundraisers. We have several girls that have financial difficulties and I’ll be honest my co-leader and I end up funding a lot of the General stuff out of our pocket because cookie sales barely cover camp. Also the other really tough thing is the rules for accepting outside donations are super prickly (I’m assuming because they don’t want you to skip their fundraisers). I’ll be interested to hear the answers from this, some of the council activities have been good but a few have been weird duds. Apparently Boy Scout popcorn sales aren’t much better, but every time I see them I feel like they are better off?

  294. In re “that shit sticks” – YES! Who the hell ever thought up that rhyme about sticks and stones yada yada? – because it is SO not true…

    Keep doing all the great stuff you do, Jenny. You are a shining star (even huddled in a corner) ☺️

  295. I forego the cookies and donate DIRECTLY TO THE TROOP. Who needs the extra sugar anyway.

  296. Good questions. I’m sure they keep promising a response in the future because they are hoping that somewhere at head office someone will think of some sort of suitable answer because they probably realize the truth is just too embarrassing.

  297. My kid left girl scouts when the kids shoplifted while buying party supplies and then their Moms got drunk at the actual party. Good times.

  298. I used to work in the pension field. when the plan has gains/losses they need to be amortized over x number of years and payments have to be made if there were more losses than gains. If investments do well, there are no payments to be made if they offset the losses amortized.

    That said, I am sure when you hear back from Girl Scouts, they will tell you that all cookie money directly benefits the girls and that “other sources of income are being utilized for pension payments such as from sales of merchandise and badges and their partnerships” with Nestle (don’t get me started on Nestle and what they do to women in third world countries) and Mattel.

    If they had a good answer, you would have already spoken to. They are scrambling knowing your reach is huge.

  299. Is that fine print right? $20.00 to military addresses? Like those folks don’t do enough for us Civis, we have to ding them for getting their Samoa on? bogus.

  300. The last numbers I saw ( last year) had cookie cost at about .85, troop proceeds at about .80 with the rest staying in the councils to fund scholarships and camps. We are not allowed to do any fund raisers unless we participate in both fall ( nut,candy) and cookie sales. I’m in Ga and have been a leader for about 10 years (and a Scout for 5).

  301. Also? I’m so saddened and horrified by the comments mentioning parents, troop leaders, and other volunteers who STOLE THE COOKIE MONEY. WTH? No other words…. Keep up Jenny. Looking fwd to further updates.

  302. Our committee splits 60/40 per box with the troops, but then the troops get to participate in events for free, receive all higher level awards and journeys at no cost, and utilize the hut/copier/kitchen facilities/art supplies etc… at no cost for the entire year. I know CONUS is different, and I have been following the issues with growing concern. Questions to USAGSO have gone unanswered. Reaching out to other Councils, all I’ve received are rather rude messages telling me to stay in my own region. We are switching to Guides. Overpriced cookies and sugar coating world issues aren’t enough to stay in a organization more concerned with profit than membership.

  303. Is there any way I can donate to Girl Scouts in lieu of buying cookies so that Hailey gets the credit?

    (Aw, thanks! Not that I’m aware of, but Hailey doesn’t need the credit. It would be nice if there was a way to sponsor girls who need financial directly but I don’t know that that exists. ~ Jenny)

  304. As a former boy scout and father of a girl who probably will be a girl scout, this is troubling.

    I’m not familiar with the structure or organization of GS, but it seems like the prary thing the councils need to do is provide facilities. They should charge a fee for their use which covers their costs and allows them to give appropriate need based aid to those who cannot afford it.

    Secondarily they should provide some resources for the troops. For example, guidelines and frameworks to assist and vet the adult leadership.

    Let individual troops be responsible for their own fimances (which seems to be the de facto case already.). But don’t impose limits like sell cookies and nothing else. Or “no donations over $x to individual troops.” Rather “a lot of troops have done well selling cookies and we have a whole cookie supply chain at your disposal if you choose. We’ll give you cookies for x price, dont sell them for less than y.”

    My boy scout troop had some good times and some less good times – but it pretty much came down to how much effort the scouts in the troop and parents put in. We went camping or rapelling or canoeing and did summer camp. We went door to door for money or got our parents to kick in. I never realized how different girl scouts was.

    My impression from reading this thread is that girl scouts is at its core a multilevel marketing operation based on cookies (which, for the record, are way overrated.)

    As far as pensions go, you have to take care of those first, but underfunded pensions take years and years to get into a crisis – mostly because executives at these organizations in 2000-2007 assumed (when they were paid to know better) that something like 2008 would never happen.

  305. Dear Hailey and Jenny,
    42. It’s the meaning of life, AND it is apparently the cost of ordering three boxes of Thin Mints.
    You’re welcome, y’all.

  306. I have this same issue as a leader and I’m so glad to have read this. I will look forward to seeing what GSUSA has to say….It is sad to know that our girls get next to nothing for all of their hard work….. I have a hard time motivating my kids when I tell them the honest truth about what their cookie sale money goes to……….

  307. I know this is very minor to the discussion, but I wanted to note that comparing the amount of money made from cookie sales to commission in other sales fields seems off to me. The girls are selling cookies as a clearly-designated fundraiser for a non-profit, which strikes me as pretty different from selling a product for a for-profit business by compensated employees. The expectation for fundraisers is greater return than in a business, as the primary focus is on raising funds rather than on the product itself. Granted that the GS have done a stellar job creating a desired product, but it’s still a fundraiser, not a business venture in the usual sense.

  308. Good Luck Questioning Authority Jenny! I stopped ordering GS cookies when I started reading the ingredients on the side of the box. They are not high-quality cookies. My husband still buys a few boxes from co-worker’s kids (apparently he doesn’t care about palm oil, high-fructose corn syrup, saturated fat and the like). To support the girls, I will give a small cash donation when asked.

  309. Lori, #184, tell me how I can make a donation directly to your troop. I don’t need cookies, and I’d like to see the money go directly to the girls. Especially the ones who need it most.

  310. My daughter dropped girl scouts after doing it for 3 years….similar things bothering us. Also, I was really bothered when my proposal of trick-or=treating for Unicef at Halloween was rejected (I did this as a kid in girlscouts and the local cubscouts do it)….the reason was that apparently nowadays Girl scouts are only allowed to collect/earn money that will go directly to Girl Scout Headquarters!!!!

  311. Hi! I know your sister and completely awesome niecelings from homeschooling nearby. ((waves)) I skimmed a bit at the end, so maybe someone mentioned this, but one of the incentive options is “Cookie Dough” which is funny money you can use towards camp that year.

    This (un)school year I really wanted more consistent activities with friends that didn’t involve constant logisticizing, so I have K in Girl Scouts (year 2), Adventure Guides (formerly Indian Princesses), 4H, and a cool once a month Jewish camp program where they zip line and pretend to be human dreidels and stuff. 4H is great because kids gather in groups according to their interests, and do hands on stuff. The board meetings for 9 yos and up are all kid run and the adults let them make non-dangerous iffy decisions so they can actually learn by doing. Our Adventure Guides group is father-daughter, and just the most FUN. Do you know what the dads did with the candy at the Halloween Dance? Dumped it out of the bags in a huge pile on a table. The kids need some time in Dad world sometimes. (I believe they also ate Del Taco in the middle of their last camping trip.) My husband LOVES the events. Don’t get me wrong, our GS troop is a big blessing too. My Brownie leader posted this on her FB page! We are lucky with about 40 girls that the troop doesn’t pressure us to sell cookies.

  312. FYI, from somebody whose business runs on ecommerce: Even really uncompetitive, stock, “off the shelf” credit card fees are 30 cents plus 3% per charge. That is if you are a tiny company with no negotiating power. So for a single $5 box of cookies, that would be 45 cents max. Again, for a tiny company that has no negotiating power. So for the Girl Scouts? I call BS.

    A USPS Priority Mail flat rate box that measures 8-5/8″ x 5-3/8″ x 1-5/8″ — probably big enough for 2-3 boxes of cookies — costs only $5.95.

    Those fees are a rip off. I don’t know anything about Girl Scouts, but I do know about shipping and CC processing fees.

  313. …first class mail would be much less than the USPS Priority Mail flat rate I quoted, by the way. It was just an illustration, being half the price they want to charge you to ship 1 box.

  314. When you talk to the Girl Scouts can you ask why they charge such a huge premium to ship to Alaska? The postal service ships flat rate here for the same price as the rest of the country.

  315. As a child I was forbidden from joining the Girl Scouts because my mother thinks they teach homemaking skills. She wanted us to be beaver scouts but no girls were allowed then. Instead we joined the Junior Forest Wardens and played with knifes and built wooden shelters in the snow. There are alternatives if the issues go unresolved.

  316. I don’t know which council your daughter is a member of but in our council the girls earn .55 to,65 per box of cookies sold and if a girl sells 100 boxes she can earn cookie dough to help pay towards her camp tuition or use it in the council store or use it towards next years membership dues. Our council offers camperships to any girl who needs help with tuition to one of its camps. The money the council receives goes to girl programing such as events they run for the girls and for training of leaders. Yes it’s true councils have stopped funding their retirement pensions for staff. GS camps are often run in the red because if they charged what it actually costs to run a camp they would have to charge an outrageous fee!

    Do I agree with all the program changes made by GSUSA? No. I miss the program I grew up in but as long as my daughter is willing to participate I am willing to guide her through it all.

    Shipping prices are crazy but that is what the baker is charging not the individual councils. They guarantee the cookies will be shipped in perfect condition, My daughter will continue to deliver cookies in person.

  317. Buying physical cookies? No. Sending to Military? Yes. Donating at least $1 to EVERY Girl Scout I see standing in the cold trying to sell cookies? Absolutely! That’s my plan!

  318. I think you need to take this to CNN. It’s more interesting than most of the other stuff they cover.

  319. I have always been relieved my daughter showed no interest in Girl Scouts. Despite being a feminist I’ve always been a little icked out at the way girl power seems to translate in some organizations. I had been hoping for 4-H so we’d have a reason to get chicken. However, I’m surprised that they have such a large pension obligation (or at least one large enough that required camps to close). I had thought most of it was done on a volunteer or seasonal basis.

    My 11 year old would love to join the Doctor Who/Zombie/Night Vale Club. She has a very nice towel. She would like to create a Hercule Poirot badge for it so which would require the member to go into Night Vale and use their “little grey cells” to solve a mystery.

  320. My childhood GS camp recently went on the market. Doing a crowdfunding campaign did cross my mind. It’s been 15 years since I have been in GS and shocked to hear about all the changes since then…and the resulting consequences now apparent in my childhood home.

  321. My son sold Boy Scout popcorn online…their setup is fantastic. The shipping can be coordinated through Amazon, and since we have Prime, we got free two-day shipping. I wonder why the Girl Scouts can’t do that?

    (I’m glad I have boys.)

  322. I couldn’t make it through the Brownies, (I think I would have done much better in the “What-If-Doctor-Who-Went-To-Night-Vale-and-then-the-Zombie-Apocolypse-Happened Prep Club”) but IMO, they should be encouraging online purchases. If I had a daughter, I certainly wouldn’t let her go door-to-door hawking cookies in this day and age.

  323. $20 additional for shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or a military address?? Anxious to hear the reasoning for that. Priority mail shipping is the same cost anywhere in the USA.

  324. Excellent post, and you have given me more reasons to be glad that I pulled my daughter from the girl scouts. For the record, my child is not at-risk or technically poor (although I feel poor the day before pay-day most weeks), but she really enjoyed her years in the Scouts, and really bonded with her fellow Scouts. However, that’s about where the learning journey came to an end. I never felt like they were learning any useful skills, while my son was killing it in his Boy Scout troop – from knife skills to some excellent survival stuff, to just how to sit down and shut up while the Leader is trying to explain something important. It was obvious then that Scouting is about as patriarchal as kid’s programs can possibly be. Add to that last year’s ruling from the Girl Scouts: that the donation jars we always put out every year on our cookie table, so that people who wanted to support the girls while not actually purchasing cookies could throw a few bucks in, became the property of the Scouts rather than the troop. In other words, the girls HAD TO use donation money to “purchase cookies to be donated to a worthy cause” – meaning more profit for the Council and zero in the troop activity fund. Simply, I felt like I was whoring my daughter out for the money machine of the Scouts. It was her hard work, effort, pretty smiling face selling those cookies. Now that I’ve read your post, I know my decision is the right one. And seriously – when an organization that exists for “charitable” purposes has an unsustainable pension legacy, there’s the sure stink of PROFITEERING.

  325. i just want to add an irk. Being a fan and supporter myself why does my daughter or anyone else’s have to ask for or pay a surcharge on already crazy prices to send the small comforts of home to her brother or someone’s father,mother or sister or the whole dang unit of Marines that are protecting us every day and living without te comforts and reminders of what they are fighting for. How can there not be a discout if I want to fuel my so’s entire marine unit with sugar, reminders of home, edible food, comfort and love?

    (Do you mean the additional $20 charge to ship to any military address? I don’t know. I’m sure it’s more expensive to ship something overseas, but I’m not sure of those prices. ~ Jenny)

  326. Seriously on the shipping? I am a soapmaker and I can ship 4 bars of soap for $5.25, priority 1-3 days. I can ship it even cheaper if I go parcel post, about $3.

  327. $11.25 for ONE BOX?
    Holy CRAP! If that’s not enough to kill a snack boner I don’t know what is!

  328. I was a Girl Scout drop out. My parents (who literally made a living teaching others how to be frugal) were frustrated with the focus on getting girls to sell, sell, sell expensive cookies, with very little funds actually going to the girls’ troop. Eventually, we barely bothered with the cookie sales, and I eventually quit because I was sick of singing songs and doing cutesy crafts while my Boy Scout brothers were building pinewood derby cars and going camping.

    Nowadays, I may buy one box of Thin Mints, but then I’ll ask them if they have a separate envelope just for donations. Rather than spending $4 on a box of cookies that only makes the troop 60 cents, I’d rather just give them some cash that they get to keep 100%. One time I had some girls so confused by this notion…When I gave then a ten dollar bill, they tried to give me two boxes of cookies, so I had to explain twice that this was strictly a donation so help them with their overnight trip to the Science Museum.

  329. Wow, Go you , Jenny and Hailey. Wow. I didn’t like GS as a kid and lasted 1 year only. Loved 4H. I never believed much (if any) of GS, BS and school fundraiser $$ stayed in the community or school. I have always given donations – watching the amount to make sure that 100% of the donation goes to that organization. I break my donations into small checks or cash throughout the year.

    Also, GSA (national, regional, paid) leaders: I got this T-Shirt for Christmas: “ZOMBIES WANT BRAINS!!! (You’re safe).”

  330. I am a GS Brownie leader and was unaware of the pension issue! Digital Cookie is a scam. That shipping? It is $11.95 for one box where I live! We are refusing to use it. I hear you on the 55cents for the Troop per box, but I will say our Council does have a beautiful camp and programming, so perhaps we are more fortunate that way.

    Also – my husband sent this to me and is somewhat convinced this is really my blog and rant. I hope you get some real answers from GS USA!

  331. The language here is lamentable. It detracts from your arguments, no matter how valid they are. Ladies, get over you need to be a foul-mouthed as men.

    (You, sir, are adorable. ~ Jenny)

  332. Thank you for pursuing this and forcing them to respond. My co-leader and I always hated the “cookie whore” aspect and felt that there was a lot that should be questioned.

  333. Unpaid pension issues plague a lot of non profits these days. a few decades ago the non profit world realized that they had to offer good benefits to get talented people to work there instead of the corporate world. And really, why should super talented people not have benefits just because they want to do good work? It sounds like the GS are in crisis, as an organization, but please watch this before handing down the all too common, and frankly, very tired “they shouldn’t spend money on that, non profits should not have any overhead” decree.

  334. So glad you wrote this – thank you. I’m so disappointed with scouts – have been involved for 45 years and just can’t do it anymore. So corporate — and so bad at being corporate. Will continue to follow this – good luck!

  335. Jenny,

    Before my long blathering, may I just say that you? You are a goddamn rock star. And? You’re not smooth like butter, you’re smooth like homemade gravy. Now I want gravy. Alas, I digress…

    My bf’s daughter is a GS, and I forced him to read your post. He and I both work in technology, and have spent many years (it could be a million years. That’s how bad it hurts!) ramping up brick & mortar stores to successfully sell online, either via a hybrid solution (order online, pick up in store), or via a standalone website. After he and I chatted we agreed on three things: 1) The GS are making a major change to their supply chain. The upfront cost was probably unbelievably high. That cost, coupled with the cost to have the site built and secured, as well as the credit card transaction fees, could well account for their pricing model. As a non-profit that has to zero out and are trying to pay their corporate employees (mostly paltry salaries, no doubt) and keep pensions afloat, they face unique challenges for a company making the digital leap. 2) The GS PR Director should have had responses to all possible questions prepared before they started explaining their bat-shit business plan with their members. 3) The GS be crazy if they think anyone will pay more than $11 for shipping unless they are buying cases of heavy rocks,and even then? They will wait for a free shipping coupon. This isn’t 2002, which I know mostly because my mother can grasp Google and checkout online without calling me.

  336. It took me a while to respond, but as a girl scout until 10th grade, it kills me to see that my daughter’s experience would be so different than my own. A conservation group I volunteered for just “saved” my childhood camps (well, one of the 6 that were closed in my general aread), we have NO sleepover camps anymore in our area, and I can’t even bring myself to go to the open tours of the “new park space” that was the site of some of my best childhood memories.

    However, away from the sad, and onto my 11 year old’s bright eyed, just woke up response to the “Doctor Who/Zombie/Night Vale club”—“YES PLEASE’, she says, over her bowl of cereal. “Sign me up”.

  337. I did Brownies and Girl Scouts, but my paralyzing social shyness at age 8 rose up and conquered even my politeness-to-adults, when I realized that someone’s mother had driven us to a strange house WITH A DOG out front who was obviously living on a diet of nothing but children, and she expected ME to get out of her car, navigate past the dog and ask a complete stranger to buy something from me?? I told her to get lost and take me home. I was taking dog bites for ANYthing, (especially pension funds– just…what?)

    I never turned in one sale. There was nothing anyone could say or threaten me with that would make me do it, which explains why my GS career never really got off the ground and I ended up working for myself.


  338. We did just one year of Girl Scouts and had several issues with the programming & funding (or lack thereof). Our troop of 7 kindergarten girls sold over $5,000 of cookies, but our troop only got to keep $300 of that. We felt totally ripped off. Most of the girls were from poor-ish families, but we never got to go to camp or anything because the council said that all that money went to corporate, not to local scholarships. We switched the next year to American Heritage Girls and have been happy with it for the 4 years since then.

  339. Any chance the website info is outdated? I work for an organization that partnered with the girl scouts on that legislation, and the Charitable Pension Flexibility Act was signed into law earlier this year. Unless there are already new issues beyond that…

  340. I was a Girl Scout back in the day when the packages were bigger and only $1.25. We went door to door with pre-sales in every neighborhood in our troop area and then delivered them a month later. The money raised went to the troop and the local council. When did this pension crap start? I still buy cookies every year because I support the girls who are selling them, but I hope you get an answer to all this. I’d hate to think it was all a lie.

  341. “The language here is lamentable. It detracts from your arguments, no matter how valid they are. Ladies, get over you need to be a foul-mouthed as men.”

    Well, isn’t William Ewald a prissy little thing.

  342. I have been a GS leader for 10 years and am fed up with the organization. I have 21 girls in my 3rd/4th grade troop. The organization offers us no value. No decent curriculum. No money. No direction. I’ve voiced concerns and only received a “thank you for your input” response. I recently discovered that when the council organizes events, such as a jewelry making session at our local art center, they tack on fees. In this example, it cost $7/girl to schedule the jewelry session directly with the art center vs. $9/girl to sign up for the same event organized by the council. The council told the art center that the surcharge covers badges. But they don’t actually give you the badge, you have to buy that yourself. You “earn” the badge in both instances; there is absolutely no difference. For our troop, going through the council would have cost us an extra $42, which would be 76.4 boxes of cookies. Ridiculous! I am actually working on a plan to disassociate our troop from Girl Scouts because I think they have gotten soooo far away from their original objective. I feel like it’s all about paying people’s salaries and not about helping the girls. The founder, Juliette Low, would be ashamed.

    And by the way, our new girls’ club is going to kick ass!

  343. My general philosophy for all charities is to make donations directly to the local chapter/branch/office. That way the money stays local and the entire check is a tax deductible donation (nothing in return). But you still have to do research – some organizations (United Way and Salvation Army to name a few) automatically bump money up to the corporate level. You have to be specific in how you make donations in order to ensure the local group doesn’t have to split it with some distant headquarters.

    And then I can feel free to buy my lactose-free wheat-free organic vegan sustainably-farmed cookies anywhere I like. And not feel a bit guilty.

  344. As one who serves on a local Gold Award Committee we were told that girls MUST participate in the fund raising opportunities offered through G.S. (troop nuts and cookie sales) before a girl is able to raise funds for their Gold Award projects using any other means. The Committee members are not in support of this, but we are only a few voices. Please speak up about this when opportunities arise.

  345. Thanks for writing this! My 11 year quitt the Girl (drama) Scouts last year and boy were we happy she did. All they did was sell things, in addition to cookies, and then ask us for $75-100 to camp overnight at a GS owned camp ground!
    It was the Park Avenue office with the CEO having her own private bath that got to me the most. So kids sell things to raise money to support a posh NYC address and NYC level sallaries???
    The shipping $$$ thing is also ridiculous and the cookies are just not the quality, or quantity, they used to be!

  346. Thank you for using your powers for good! Jenny and Hailey, you guys are fantabulous!

  347. and this is why 40+ years ago when I was a g.s. and selling cookies and my dad found out how LITTLE money the troops were getting from the sales he decided to write a check directly to my troop for stuff we wanted or needed. personally, i’ll buy a box or two (but not thin mints because they’ve changed and the chocolate tastes cheap) just because i like to help the girls braving the cold and the (sometimes) grumpy people here in Massachusetts!

  348. Interesting thread. Personally, I’m going to give the first girl scouts who ask me to buy cookies a $20. Subsequent requests by different girls will get $10.

    Thanks but no thanks on the cookies though.

  349. The Girl Scout cookies also continue to utilize palm oil in their ingredients, which has been shown, by two Cadette Girl Scouts from Michigan, to cause habitat loss and environmental degredation in third world countries. In all of the Journey booklets that Scouts are required to complete, activism is required. Too bad the Scouts don’t listen to their own! Hypocrisy at the highest level. We have dropped out of Scouts because of this…don’t want to be part of an organization that touts bringing up strong smart environmentally conscious
    women and then doesn’t listen to them!!

  350. Two things come to mind:

    First, when I read their website, it sounds like a “these bad, unacceptable things are going to happen if you don’t contact your congressman to get it fixed” plea. I call it “influence extortion.”

    Secondly, I really want a cookie now.

    Seriously, I commiserate with all of the people above trying to do good things for girls under completely asinine circumstances. When I (re)started a GS troop because my nieces wanted to do it, I got even more annoyed that the curriculum now calls for girls to sit around and talk about their feelings, and is based around the Journey books. Do you know what it’s like to get 7 year olds, who have to sit all day long in school, amped up about sitting around and talking about feelings while following yet another book curriculum? We basically throw out everything GS provides for us and create our own program, with outdoor fun & skills, girl power shit, and other kickass activities. They want us to build girls of Courage, Confidence, and Character, but their curriculum is boring, staid, and doesn’t encourage any of those things. Quite frankly, if we could just be a group without an affiliation and not have to worry about insurance, background checks for adults, and needing a legitimate name in order to rent a place for meetings, we would just ditch Girl Scouts completely.

  351. I freaking HATE companies that charge extra to deliver to military addresses (last line: $20 premium to HI, AK and military addresses). It does NOT cost more to send to an overseas military address–the only difference is that the sender has to fill out (or computer generate) a customs form. Big companies like J Crew, Pottery Barn, Amazon, etc. manage to send us our things without charging a $20 fee. If it isn’t clear, I’m a military spouse in Japan and I’m goddamn irritated by companies that feel like they can charge a fee. I was also a Girl Scout and I am still afraid to knock on people’s doors and fundraise because of the scarring experiences of door-to-door cookie sales in the early 1980s. Two years ago when my daughter was a GS, I had her go door-to-door (like your daughter, we are opposites, she’s an extrovert, I’m a rock-in-the-corner introvert). She sold about 10 boxes going door-to-door–(WHY do they sell right after New Year’s when people are going on diets as resolutions–dumb move GS) and then I faked the rest of her form, writing in the names of various, extremely generous family members. I think I bought 60 boxes on my own. Totally dishonest and shameful, but she kept getting shot down and I didn’t want her to feel bad…the things we do for our kids. Sigh.

  352. I rarely comment so here goes
    1) I participated in GS for years and went to GS camp for years on Cookie Credit. I have many fond memories of cookie sales.
    2) I dislike that GS has actively discouraged going door to door in neighborhoods and is instead promoting kiosk sales. As the veteran of many door-to-door fundraisers (cookies, oranges, car wash a thon etc) I always thought it promoted community interaction as well as common sense items like salesmanship, self-advocacy and follow through.
    3) I had no idea that so much money went to pension expenses. Seriously?? My mother was a volunteer and could barely get kids to kick in their quarter each week for juice and cookies at the meeting.
    4) YOU NEED TO LOOK THIS UP – but I believe there is a program where you can send cookies to the troops. For people who dont want the calories – but do want to support, I can only imagine how nice it would be for some soldier to gather some war kids around and share a box of cookies. Wouldn’t that do a lot for morale on both sides??

    (Number 4 exists. If you do it online though you’ll be paying for the cookies and a handling fee that starts at $1.25 and raises depending on how many you donate. If you pay the girl scout directly you just have to pay for the cookies. They go to the USO I believe. We donated a few cases last year. ~ Jenny)

  353. I’m a bit confused. Do people actually yell at Girl Scouts trying to sell cookies? What on Earth for? Little girl asked if you want to buy cookies. She didn’t ask you to sell your first born, or sign a petition to advance the cause of (Whatever you disagree most strongly with), she asked if you want to buy cookies. Ok, so maybe you’re broke, or don’t like cookies (Freak), and you say “No, thanks, but good luck.” Sheesh. There is no excuse for people to be rude to children; That’s how we wind up with rude adults.

    (It happens. Rarely though, and it’s usually some crazy person yelling about “cookies paying for abortions” or some such nonsense. There are nuts everywhere. ~ Jenny)

  354. I got asked to leave my GS troop, along with my couple of friends, since we couldn’t get along with the other girls. Never mind that there were like 30 girls, and the other girls snubbed us.

  355. I cant believe they charge $20 EXTRA to ship to an APO (military address) when the US post office doesn’t.

  356. Very sad (but not entirely surprised) to learn that Girl Scouts has gone the way of a typical greedy corporation. I was never a fan of the Girl Scouts either but at least I thought it was doing good things for the girls who were into it. Now I can’t even say that. There goes my last reason for buying cookies that just make my ass bigger.

  357. My experience in dealing with the Girl Scouts and, more specifically, the United Way, was not a positive thing. Many years have passed but I’m still pretty irate.

  358. if the girl scouts are low on cash, maybe they should move their headquarters from fifth avenue NYC and into cheaper real estate….

  359. I’m glad our sales do not start until February (though not sure whose bright idea it is to have elementary aged girls stand outside in February in SOUTH DAKOTA). Perhaps some of the online sales stuff will be fixed. We ran into these extreme shipping charges with fall nuts & candy sales, which tells me it’s not the vendor but the Girl Scouts 🙁 hopefully this is merely “first year jitters.” The pension stuff is frustrating.

    But as long as my girls love it, we’ll do it. It’s still the best option for my daughters in our small town and these are issues I can live with (for now)

  360. You go girls! Thank you for asking the difficult questions. I do hope that you will get an answer, however, I’m not optimistic. My daughter and I are waiting to join your new club.

  361. I work in ecommerce. That shipping rate is competitive for a site that won’t be providing sales year round. A company that specializes in year round online sales can certainly do it much cheaper but this will be seasonal work. It looks like the shipping price is geared to push people into buying more. Yes, $11.25 is crazy for one box but reasonable for 6 boxes. It takes the same amount of time for a fulfillment company worker to package 1 box of cookies and ship it out to a single address as it does six boxes of cookies to a single address so it is a better use of resources. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they only purchased one size of shipping containers as that its also a better way to control costs.

    The shipping cost is not just what the delivery company charges but also the salary of the person packing the items for sale. This is not an sole proprietor operation where the creator of the goods being shipped packs each item and doesn’t track that as time they should pay themselves because they see it as an investment in growing the business.

    Please compare the cookie shipping fees to other specialized online stores rather than the Amazons and Gaps of the world. I suggest looking at museum stores such as the Met or Art Institute of Chicago. Food stores like Harry & David and Swiss Colony also have comparable shipping rates.

    I got nothing on the other points you raised. As someone whose mom was the council cookie chairman my entire school career, I’m interested in getting more info on those too.

  362. Girl Scouts teaches many useful skills to young ladies. This “new” digital approach to cookie sales is not a valuable skill. The new sales techique removes all personal contact and teaches only how to send an email with a link to personal cookie sales pages. I am disappointed in the Girl Scouts and will not order cookies on-line. I will from girls that knock on my door or sell in booths. Goos luck.

  363. I doubt the money is going to pensions and am sure a huge amount going to executive salary increases and perks. This is not a new picture.. What does the top executives earn and what exactly do they do beside irritating people?

  364. Although I love Girl Scouts and Girl Scout cookies, I haven’t purchased any (cookies – not Girl Scouts. Because if someone is selling Girl Scouts, that is just wrong and highly illegal!) for years. The reason being that the actual troop gets so LITTLE from the sale of each box. It just bothers me that these young gals are basically pimped out to sell cookies for next to nothing – while the corporation and manufacturer get nearly all of the funds. Instead, I often donate to the troop directly – my waistline thanks me and I feel better knowing that my money is going right to the girls.

  365. An investment in the girls = a direct donation to the troop and perhaps offering to volunteer your services as a leader or as a community expert (hey, somebody might want to grow up and do what you do!)

    An investment in the camps (most of which run at a huge deficit; check local council website for financials) or a specific program = a direct, restricted donation to the camps (you can even name the specific camp, or specify a scholarship) sent to your local council

    GSUSA tried to reduce their overhead expenses by contracting their councils into a smaller number of much larger (and, IMO, less responsive to local needs) councils around 2007. That’s also when they started aggressively closing camps and selling properties. I checked my local super-council website and read all the available financials (past three years) and reports. We now have six camps (when we were fi