Local Girl Scout troops rallied together to sell over 2 million boxes of cookies this year despite increased social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Girl Scout Arizona Cactus-Pine Council is made up of over 20,000 girls and reaches more than 90 communities throughout central and northern Arizona.
This cookie season, the council recorded that the per-girl average cookie sale was 320 boxes, in comparison to an average of 176 in 2020. The top-cookie seller for this year sold over 10,000 boxes.
Each year, cookie sales received by the council are put towards different programming, such as Girl Scout camps and the cookie program itself. The funds also go towards community projects or initiatives that troops may accomplish.
According to a press release, the Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches girls how to “earn money for these fun, educational activities and community projects and plays an important role in helping girls learn essential life skills like decision-making, money management, people skills, business ethics, and goal setting.”
In March of last year, the council was one of the few in the nation that was able to wrap up its cookie program before major COVID-19 closures.
Vianca Navarete, a spokesperson for the council, said that they were very lucky to have had that opportunity.
“Entering this year, it was just prepared differently,” Ms. Navarete said. “We definitely wanted to continue to have the program this year just to provide a sense of normalcy and to have an opportunity for girls to connect.”
The much-anticipated cookie season is one of the first big programs that the council has been able to bring back in-person for its members.
Throughout the six weeks of the cookie program, girls and their troops went to the streets to sell cookies with some notable differences, like the push to use the pre-existing online platform, Digital Cookie.
Ms. Navarete explained that individual girls can sign up to create their own “website” where they sell cookies online, reducing the amount of contact during a sale.
“They were able to take pre-orders from customers and then once our program actually started, they could process that payment and coordinate whether the girls were going to ship them or drop them off in person,” she said.
Many girls chose to conduct sales completely online and while this option gained traction with girls who had hesitations about participating this season, the traditional sales methods were still in practice.
“That gave girls a really good opportunity for growth [to] have the option to either sell traditionally like doing some kind of door to door, [or] they can [also] do online only through the Digital Cookie platform or do a blended version,” Ms. Navarete said.
She further explained that for girls and troops that participated in-person at booths or door to door, proper COVID-19 safety protocols were enforced.
“It was great to see girls just being safe and coming up with innovative ways to sell and I think this really allowed girls to flex their creative levels,” Ms. Navarete said.
For example, some girls created door hangers with QR codes to their Digital Cookie profile to help with their sales. She explained that girls would leave them on doors so people could order online and then have them delivered.
“That was really clever and that’s kind of thing that was implemented that uses the traditional strategy and incorporated the use of Digital Cookie that we’re really pushing this year,” Ms. Navarete said.
The participation and support from the girls and troop leaders this year helped the council to feel more certain and confident about organizing programs for its troops, adopting a just go for it attitude.
“I think that was really expressed in the way girls were out and running their businesses whether it was online or in person,” Ms. Navarete noted.
As cookie season comes to a close, she said that the council is now looking towards applying those funds towards Girl Scout programming.
With how well the cookie program succeeded in-person, the Arizona Cactus-Pine Council is planning on hosting in-person summer camps for interested girls.
“Unfortunately, we did have to postpone our program and we did not host a summer camp last year, but this year we are, and we’ve been running around just different versions and scenarios,” Ms. Navarete said.
The proposed camping experience would limit the number of girls allowed to register to an even smaller group and require girls to take COVID-19 tests on arrival.
Campers will have the opportunity to go mask-free in specific places, like their cabin, but would enforce the use of masks in communal areas, Ms. Navarete explained.
“We’re definitely preparing and planning for [summer programming] and we have backup plans should we need to tighten up our safety protocols,” she said.