Photographer / Amy Garro
A tasty piece of Americana, the first Girl Scout cookies were home baked by Girl Scouts back in 1917 and sold in waxed paper bags.
“We see the cookie program being that one cornerstone activity that enables girls to learn a great number of entrepreneurial skills,” says Danielle Shockey, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Indiana. “When they sell cookies they’re learning communication, sales, supply and demand, marketing, social media presence, manners and tenacity.”
This year the Girl Scouts are excited to introduce a new flavor to their lineup – Lemon-Ups, a crisp, zesty lemon cookie.
“We’ve had some advanced taste testing, and this cookie is particularly good,” Shockey says.
Cookies sell for $5 per box and include Do-si-dos, Girl Scout S’mores, Samoas, Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Toffee-tastic and Trefoils. The organization also participates in Operation: Cookie Drop to support local military members, military veterans and first responders. Last year more than 76,000 packages of Girl Scout cookies were donated to the cause.
“These military men and women tell us that when they are overseas, receiving these cookies is like a piece of home,” Shockey says.
All proceeds from cookie sales stay local in central Indiana, and each troop decides how to spend proceeds. They may choose to put it toward philanthropy, or they may save it each year so that they can go downhill skiing in Colorado or take a backpacking adventure at the Grand Canyon.
“Girls often choose outdoor adventures that involve canoeing, hiking, rappelling, archery, horseback riding and zip lining,” Shockey says.
Last year Girl Scouts of Central Indiana troops earned more than $2 million in troop proceeds to fund their activities, buy supplies and support service projects in local communities. Last year Girl Scouts of Central Indiana provided more than $312,000 in financial assistance, in an effort to make the program available to any girl interested in participating.
The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana adheres to four program pillars – STEM education, the outdoors, life skills and entrepreneurship. The curriculum for scout badges is aligned to state standards and often written by partners who are experts in their fields. For example, some of the curriculum for cybersecurity badges is written by Raytheon. North Face provides part of the curriculum for outdoor adventure badges.
“Girl Scouts USA works with the people who know their content,” Shockey explains. “And they work with us because we know the developmental, social, emotional and academic needs of girls.”
Sometimes partners are troop leaders, and other times they are university partners or leaders in a particular field. For instance, if a girl wants to earn STEM badges around engineering, she might learn from an engineer at Caterpillar.
The Girl Scouts organization releases new badges frequently. Last July it released over a dozen new STEM badges.
“We want to make sure the content behind our badges is maintaining the pace of technology changes, so we introduced gaming badges – teaching the coding behind how to make a virtual reality program,” says Shockey, noting that her organization strives to incorporate subject matter that is of interest to girls today.
For Shockey, one of the most beautiful occurrences is when girls are unafraid to take risks, fail, and try again. The Girl Scouts present the Gold Award to dreamers and doers who change the world in a positive way.
“The big variable to earning the Gold Award is that it has to live beyond them,” Shockey says. “It’s something that has to exist in the future beyond them to make the world a better place.”
Shockey tells the story of Sophie, 15-year-old Zionsville resident who, after watching a documentary about the Holocaust, decided to dig deeper to learn more. She researched Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, who suffered terribly in the Auschwitz concentration camp and yet ultimately chose to forgive those who tortured her and murdered her family.
As Sophie researched, a school shooting occurred in Noblesville and the notion of forgiveness in the wake of such horror resonated with Sophie. She thought that if her peers could hear Kor’s story of forgiveness, it may serve to quicken the healing process. After much planning and organization, Sophie was able to facilitate an event for which Kor came to Noblesville to speak. Sophie then worked with WFYI to make Holocaust education kits for all Zionsville High School history classrooms so the same lesson could be taught in perpetuity.
“She wanted to give her community hope, and she found a way to do so,” Shockey says.
These are the kind of females the Girl Scouts help to develop.
“We have Fortune 500 company CEOs, and those who serve in Congress,” Shockey says. “And not many know that every female Secretary of State grew up in a Girl Scout program.”
Girl Scouts participate in a number of local philanthropic projects – everything from food pantries to nursing homes. In addition, last year 900 Girl Scouts donated 523 pairs of shoes to a Kenyan village for The Shoe That Grows, which enables children to not only wear shoes but also attend school.
“We’re glad that our girls liked this opportunity to give back on a global scale, and are excited about the impact this will have in kids’ lives at the (Kenyan) Hope School and around the globe,” Shockey says.
To find out where Girl Scout cookies are sold near you, visit girlscoutcookies.org or use the official Girl Scout Cookie Finder app, free on iOS and Android devices. Girl Scout cookie orders will be taken through mid-March.
For more information on The Shoe That Grows, visit becauseinternational.org.