When we think Girl Scouts, we think cookies. So, let’s get it out of the way; the answer is Thin Mints. Yes, Thin Mints are the top-selling cookie year after year. Each member of the Gulfcoast Council sells an average of 275 boxes of cookies and last year, one girl sold over 4,000 boxes. “Cookie Season” lasts six weeks and starts in February. The tasty treats are manufactured by Little Brownie Baker, a subsidiary of Kellogg.
The Cookie Program is an essential starting point for Girl Scouts to hone these five skills they can use for their lifetime: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. The skills are used as the Girl Scouts set and reach their cookie goals; budget, take orders and handle customer’s money, communicate with people while selling cookies; and exhibit honesty and responsibility during the process.
At the helm of the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida is Mary Anne Servian, the red-headed dynamo in charge of 6,000 Girl Scouts. Her territory covers Manatee, Sarasota, Highlands, Hardee, DeSoto, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Collier Counties. Servian is the former mayor of Sarasota, was a City of Sarasota Commissioner, and served as the Managing Director of the Sarasota Ballet for six years. All of these roles were a far cry from her goal of becoming a nun. Servian says, “she’s never had a job, but an adventure. She’s met amazing people in her life.”
She tells me about famous Girl Scouts Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice and that 75 percent of current female senators were Girl Scouts. The entertainment industry is also home to Girl Scout alumnae Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dakota Fanning and Carrie Fisher. The Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA, Sylvia Acevedo, is a rocket scientist. Servian says “the biggest competition to the Girl Scouts is nothing.”
G stands for go-getter; I is for innovator; R is for risk-taker; and L is for leader. The Girl Scout program serves girls who are five to 18 years of age. Girls start out as Sprouts and Daisies in kindergarten, become Brownies in second grade, Juniors in fourth grade, Cadettes in sixth grade, Seniors in ninth grade and Ambassadors in grades eleven and twelve.
Locally, the Girl Scouts run two summer camps: Caloosa in Ft. Myers and Honi Hanta in Manatee County. The Girl Scouts are known for their community service work. The Girl Scouts are funded by United Way, foundations, individual contributions, product sales, and of course, those delicious cookies.