Recognizing the power of the cookie

Never underestimate the power of a cookie.

For the members of Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, cookies are going to get them where they want to go this summer and in the process give them valuable skills for the future.

The annual cookie-selling campaign is underway and runs through March 16 with the girls conducting direct sales and setting up temporary booths at various local businesses throughout the region.

“My goal is to go to camp,” said Maddy Dutcher, 10, of Fort Dodge. “It’s called ‘Art Attack’ and you can make candles and tie-dye stuff.”

A junior Girl Scout with Troop No. 10082 out of Gowrie, Dutcher has sold cookies before, but this year is different since it’s her first time dealing with the “cash and carry” concept.

Rather than writing down orders and later collecting money when delivering the cookies, she immediately makes an exchange.

This is teaching her about inventory and accounting, said her mother, Chris Dutcher, as well as how to properly make change.

“She is learning to count back change,” Chris Dutcher said. “It’s a lost art. No one does it anymore and that’s a shame. As a customer, I always feel better when they count it back.”

Girl Scout Brownie Jayla Isaacson, 8, of Callender, quietly said things were going “good” in her effort to sell enough cookies to also attend camp, although she wants to go to Camp Critters which is, as it sounds, all about animals.

“She’s a little seller,” said Doreen Gardipee, the troop leader. “She went to two camps last year.”

And to do something like that takes quite a few cookie sales to achieve.

According to Gardipee and Chris Dutcher’s estimation, going to just one camp session at Camp Sacajawea near Boone costs around $300.

The girls earn “cookie dough” to put toward that amount through their sales. Scholarships are then available to offset the remaining cost; however, for a girl to be able to pay for a camp with just cookie dough, she has to sell 800 packages of cookies.

Brownie Bella Pudenz, 8 of Callender, has her eyes set on a mini-Ipad, which is another prize the cookies can earn her. It is a bit more ambitious than a camp session, requiring 900 packages to be sold.

“And there’s a laptop,” she said. “It’s 1,200, but I like to go for the prizes.”

Her first year in Girl Scouts, Madelyn Farley, 6, of Gowrie, is called a daisy and this is her first cookie campaign.

“It’s fun,” she said, “but I’m too shy.”

Farley’s reserve is something she is learning to overcome through the program, Gardipee said. When she started she would hang back, but now she has gone up to neighbors’ doors and made her pitch.

A young girl finding the confidence to come out of her shell is exactly what Girl Scout officials like to hear, said Antoinette Bernich, director of marketing for Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa.

“Every year with our cookie sale what we focus on are the girls’ stories and what they get out of it,” she said. “The stories are what our campaign is all about.”

Day to day sales numbers are difficult to track, she said, and aren’t the main push anyway. Regardless if a girl sells one package or 100, Bernich said, she is a success because through her participation in the campaign she is learning five important life skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

“These cookies are more than tasty treats,” she said.