Our friend and neighbor Andrea Anderson, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western Washington, stopped by for a quick chat, bringing by her sweet canine companion Athena March 16.

Andrea was on a mission last weekend to visit as many cookie booths as possible, and meet the budding entrepreneurs who will become our future leaders. During our visit, she raised our awareness about how today’s Girl Scouts’ program empowers young women.

“It’s not only cute kids selling cookies, it’s the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in this country,” Andrea said. “We share the proceeds with the local councils, and they get to decide what they will do with them. They may put them toward camp, or donating to their community. One troop in Burien gives their proceeds to Children’s Hospital. Another saves their revenue for a future trip to Australia.”

Girl Scout cookie sales involve two phases, Andrea explained. First, are pre-sales. Girl Scouts take orders from neighbors, friends, parents’ businesses and family members to find out how many boxes of No. 1 best selling Thin Mints®, Caramel Chocolate Chip®, Do-si-dos® peanut butter sandwich cookies, and other available varieties customers wish to purchase. The second phase involves setting up booths at local stores. Whidbey locals may have seen several Girl Scouts and a parent selling cookies at The Goose Grocery, Star Store, or Walmart. Each box sells for $6.

Andrea Anderson and a Brownie at Girl Scout cookie booth at the Goose Grocery. Photo shared by Andrea Anderson

“We will probably sell over 3 million boxes of cookies in western Washington, covering 18 counties,”Andrea said. “A large portion of our revenue comes from cookie sales. We serve 15,000 young people. In an average year, we have 6,000-plus volunteers.”

Many of the volunteers help out at the summer Girl Scout camps located throughout the state.

Prior to selling cookies, the Girl Scouts are tasked with creating a presentation of their business goals.

“Every seller creates her own video, decides her goals, figures out her market, and comes up with a business model,” Andrea explained. Other skills Girl Scouts learn through selling cookies include interactions with the public, learning ethical business practices, individual and team decision making, and money management skills.

Andrea Anderson celebrates with Girl Scouts at a mainland cookie booth. Photo shared by Andrea Anderson

Two commercial bakers are licensed by Girl Scouts of USA to produce all the cookies sold nationwide each year: ABC Bakers in Downers Grove IL, and Little Brownie Bakers LLC in Louisville KY.

Each year, based on orders, and anticipated booth sales, boxes of Girl Scout cookies are shipped to warehouses around the country, where they are distributed and sold by young women in their neighborhoods.

Since Girl Scouts first began selling home-baked cookies door-to-door in 1917, now more than 200 million boxes are sold each year. With the advent of the Digital Cookie® platform in 2014, Girl Scouts can take orders online, learn e-commerce skills, and provide a profile of themselves. All Girl Scout Cookies are kosher and Halal-certified. Nowadays, vegan and gluten-free varieties are available as well.

Cookie sales tend to run from January through April and are one part of the total Girl Scout leadership experience. Scouts are engaged with a number of other projects year-round.

Girl Scouts from western Washington advertising their cookie sales. Photo shared by Andrea Anderson

“We offer 325 projects Girl Scouts can earn badges in,” Andrea said. “Build a bank account, create a company, learn about the outdoors…”

Juliette Gordon Lowe, nicknamed Daisy, started Girl Scouts with a group of 18 girls in 1912 Savannah, GA. According to the Girl Scouts’ webpage, Daisy started the group for girls who were curious about life and felt they could become anyone they wanted to be. “At a time when women in the United States couldn’t yet vote and were expected to stick to strict social norms, encouraging girls to embrace their unique strengths and create their own opportunities was game-changing. That small gathering of girls over 100 years ago ignited a movement across America where every girl could unlock her full potential, find lifelong friends, and make the world a better place.”

Juliette Gordon ‘Daisy’ Lowe, center, was the founder of Girl Scouts of USA in 1912. Photo from Girl Scouts of the USA webpage

There are six levels of Girl Scouts: Daisies (named for the Girl Scouts’ founder) in kindergarten and first grade, Brownies in second and third grade, Junior in fourth and fifth grade, Cadettes in sixth through eighth grade, Seniors in ninth and tenth grade, and Ambassadors in 11th and 12th grade.

Andrea Anderson shares a moment with a Girl Scout during the last week of sales. Photo shared by Andrea Anderson

Andrea was a Brownie and Junior Girl Scout when she lived in Michigan and says, she’s always been a Girl Scout at heart.

“Since my first real job lifeguarding at a youth facility, I have always been called to working with community and young people,” Andrea said.

Nowadays, she wants to expand the Girl Scout narrative to include alumnae as well.

“Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout,” she said. “We have one of the best and highest brands in the country. A positive association. We want to create a solid connection with the millions of our alums. For me, the biggest challenge is to connect with them. We’re building a new platform for volunteers. Girl Scouts are about team building, community relations, and leaving a place better than we found it. I am having a good time. I love my job.”

Interested in becoming a part of Girl Scouts of Western Washington? Visit Girl Scouts of Western Washington, or email Andrea at aanderson@gsww.org. To find a troop in your area, visit this page.


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