If the mission of the
Girl Scouts is to
build “girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better
place,” they might have a harder time with at least three out of the four now
that their most high-profile project is going decidedly more low-key.
the first time in nearly a century, Girl Scouts will no longer have to pound
the pavement to peddle their Peanut Butter Patties. Despite touting that “through interaction with each
customer and other Girl Scouts, a girl learns the importance of keeping her
word, doing the right thing, and being fair,” girls can now sell their cookies
using a mobile app or personalized website instead of door-to-door or, say, at
their parents’ workplaces or outside a grocery story or other central location.
it’s a good thing that scouts—and girls especially—are being
encouraged to be business savvy and entrepreneurial, but it’s puzzling why that
would come at the expense of face-to-face communication. Instead of learning
how to shake hands, make eye contact, keep track of money and use the power of
verbal persuasion, skills that most would acknowledge are going by the wayside
in favor of texting and tweeting, now all a Girl Scout has to do is email
around a website link. They don’t even have to deliver the cookies once they
arrive, as they can now be shipped right to a customer’s front door.
Interpersonal skills are falling behind with every click of a mouse or touchscreen.
may be the buzzier direction, but it would seem that one of the main selling
points of scouting is holding onto some valuable, albeit old-fashioned tools
that nonetheless aren’t going out of style any time soon. While digital
marketing is arguably a remarkably useful tool, it’s not one that most kids
won’t have an opportunity to learn in the coming years through even the most
basic of school classes. On the other hand, interpersonal skills are falling
behind with every click of a mouse or touchscreen.
the Girl Scouts are famous for their cookies, perhaps this would have been an
optimum time to develop an additional signature activity, and one that was
digital-only, thereby preserving what put them on the map not only for the
destination but also the journey — after all, wasn’t that the goal of the
cookies in the first place? Couldn’t the Girl Scouts have asked their troupes
to spend some time conceiving of another service or product that would help
them learn about online commerce, marketing, design, coding and billing while
not making the human aspect all-but vanish in the process?
scouts themselves have turned their nose down at online sales in the past,
arguing they “did not teach girls how to sell to others directly or learn how
to handle money and deliver cookies—some of the entrepreneurial skills the
sales program is designed to instill,” according to The New York Times.
changed, though, apparently after a few years of “development and testing” that
helped them “incorporate ways to learn those skills while selling online,
including digital order tracking and the ability to hand-deliver boxes of
cookies ordered through the Internet.”
hard to see how digital order tracking will replace human contact, although it
is expected to boost revenue. A report from the Associated Press said more than 1 million
scouts from Kindergarteners through teens are expected to start selling cookies
online, and their revenue is expected to exceed $800 million. Surely business
acumen will soar among the Girl Scouts, although it’s unclear how they’ll be
making the world a better place with their heads buried behind computer
no question they will sell more cookies this way, but was that ever really the main
point of the exercise?