The two girls knocked on my door. They wore Kelly green berets and green vests. I greeted them.
The two Girl Scouts went through their spiel. “We’re selling cookies, sir,” they began.
“Do you have any identification?” said I.
They exchanged looks. “Wait, what?”
“Well,” I said amiably, “how do I know you’re really Girl Scouts? A little proof would be nice. Dangerous world out there.”
I have a deep appreciation for Girl Scouts, and each year I buy a LOT of Thin Mints, which has made me quasi-famous in local Girl Scout circles. Last year, for example, my salesgirl won a pink Cadillac.
So the tallest girl gave me her name, rank, and serial number. “And this is my new American flag badge,” she added. “We had to iron it on because my mom can’t sew.”
“How about you?” I said to the girl with pigtails. “Got any ID?”
Pigtails had no ID, but she did proudly display her proficiency badges, her Junior Leadership pin, her Junior Aide Award, her Daisy Safety Award pin, and her Purple Heart.
Then Pigtails described in painstaking detail how she earned her Junior First Aid badge, a process wherein she not only learned how to care for injured persons, but she rode shotgun in an ambulance, toured an emergency room, and extinguished a three-story residential fire single handedly.
I pointed to another badge. “And what’s that badge for?”
“Oh, this one?” she said. “This is the Junior Inside Government badge.”
The Junior Inside Government merit badge requires Girl Scouts to explore the ethics of American government. To do this, girls are given faux countries and charged with the task of making up fun, nonsensical, whacky laws for their countries, sort of like Congress.
I asked what kinds of laws they came up with for their faux countries.
“Um,” said one girl. “Well, my country was called the United States of Amandica. I had a law where you got to eat candy with every meal. Oh, and each house was required to have one swimming pool. Vegetables were illegal. And all dads had to have a permit before eating beans.”
I pointed to another badge. “What’s this one?”
“This my Lifesaving badge. This one was really hard. I had to basically swim in a pool for-EVER and learn how to save someone’s life in the water. I learned about things like spinal injuries, rescuing a drowning person, and how to give CPR.”
“You mean you know CPR?” I said.
She nodded proudly.
I pointed to another badge.
“This one?” said Pigtails. “This is the Playing the Past badge. I got this one when I was little. This is when you pick a period in history and you pretend you’re back in that time.
“I picked Colonial America. Me and my mom dressed up like colonial people and we had a party and ate colonial food.”
“Trust me,” her friend added, “you do not want to know what the colonists ate.”
I asked about another badge.
“This is the Social Butterfly badge,” the girl said. “It’s where you learn how to talk to people at, like, a dinner party or something. You have to make conversation and not be awkward, and be super polite. You have to use your manners, learn how to use the right silverware, and learn table manners from other countries, like, eating with chopsticks.”
“Yeah,” said Pigtails. “And then we had to write a BUNCH of thank-yous afterward. My mom said it was just like Junior League only with shorter people.”
After they explained several more badges, including the Practice with Purpose badge, Digital Leadership badge, Simple Meals badge, Staying Fit badge, Robots badge, and the Financial Management badge, I asked about another patch.
“This one? This is the Starts With Kindness badge.”
The girls explained that to earn this particular merit badge, Scouts are expected to hold the door for someone, give hugs at random, leave happy notes around town, make gifts for others, or call someone who is not feeling well.
“For my badge, I wrote chalk messages of encouragement on the sidewalks,” said Pigtails. “‘Cause I’m really good at art. So I wrote on the sidewalk, ‘you’re an amazing person,’ or ‘you can do this,’ or ‘you are loved.’”
The other girl said, “For my badge, my mom and I baked desserts for everyone at my grandpa’s nursing home, and, honestly, we just showed everyone that we care about them, and how special they are, and everyone wanted their pictures with me.”
After our pleasantries my sales professionals got down to cutting bait like two savvy businesswomen.
“So how many cookies can we put you down for this year, Mister Dietrich?”
I paid in cash. I hope those girls win a few Coupe DeVilles.
Laura W - February 23, 2022 10:12 am
I had a sash full of badges but can only remember how I earned my sewing badge and my cooking badge. Mom taught for the cooking badge and we had a huge supply of grossly colored icing at the end that my brothers ate on graham crackers. There was also a formal tea where we made lots of petit fours to serve to our moms. Sold lots of those Thin Mints door to door but they were only 50 cents a box in my day. Now I just give my local Girl Scouts cash to buy cookies for the military troops.
Martha - February 23, 2022 11:44 am
The Scout programs (Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts) have long been great programs for young people to learn many lessons about life and living. I started as a Brownie, went through Seniors and later became a leader for my two daughters. Thank you for recognizing these two young ladies as they carried on a great tradition!
Mike - February 23, 2022 12:18 pm
Girl Scout Cookie season is always a highlight of the new year. How about a big shout out to one of the
most important people in Girl Scouts – The Girl
Scout Moms. They provide logistical functions –
marketing and display expertise. They also
provide that critical answer when a customer
asks “ $5 a box how much do I owe you for
Donna Walker - February 23, 2022 12:47 pm
My Do-Si-Dos were on my desk this morning…..the Girl Scout fairy came by last night! I hope they won too!
Paul McCutchen - February 23, 2022 12:56 pm
At my house you buy the cookies then put them in a hiding place because your spouse will hunt them and, like a lion, eat most of them then take the rest and hide them in another location.
Rebecca Kaufman - February 23, 2022 1:24 pm
Love,love, love. I have terrible memories of having to go door to door trying to sell GS cookies about 70 years ago.
Cynthia Russell - February 23, 2022 2:00 pm
WOW!! I was a Girl Scout years & years ago… What a difference from long ago with a tired Scout Leader to lead us.. I see by your letter it has really evolved in todays world.. sad to say I got kicked out of the GS – but seriously it was REALLY Susan’s fault- That girl could talk me into anything!!!
Sean of the South: Thin Mints | The Trussville Tribune - February 23, 2022 2:11 pm
[…] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]
Amanda W Barron - February 23, 2022 2:13 pm
As a Girl Scout mom and troop helper, I cannot say thank you enough for actually talking to these sweet young ladies. You have no idea how many blank stares and rude comments these girls get when they are out selling cookies. It’s people like you that actually take the time to ask about their badges that make these Scouts realize their true accomplishments. I have seen some of the most shy little girls come out of their shells and finally be brave enough to say “Would you like to buy a box of cookies?” Thank you Mr. Dietrich for realizing that being a Scout is more than selling cookies, it is a group of girls that gather together to sing songs, learn pledges, make new friends and build life skills that make them strong leaders.
Jan - February 23, 2022 2:16 pm
Love those Girl Scouts and their cookies! A lot has changed since I was a Brownie years and years ago.
Marc Beaver - February 23, 2022 2:26 pm
Shelton A. - February 23, 2022 2:31 pm
I had to donate to Girl Scouts this year. I have given up cookies and candy, trying to stay away from processed sugar. So, I donated and I’ll likely donate again. I have a deep love for Trefoils and it was truly hard not to buy just one box. Thanks for picking up my slack. The Girl Scouts in Birmingham are going to love you! Blessings and peace to you and Jamie (plus the pups).
Stacey Wallace - February 23, 2022 2:46 pm
Thanks, Sean. That was so sweet, and I appreciate your not making my husband or me cry. As a diabetic, I try to donate money to Girl Scouts and not buy those delicious cookies. However, I love the Carmel Delights and the Shortbreads. My husband loves the Peanut Butter Cremes. Love to you and Jamie.
LBJ - February 23, 2022 3:49 pm
When my daughter was in 1st grade, she wanted to be a Girl Scout. Unless some moms stepped up, it couldn’t happen. Two other moms joined me to become their leaders.
On cookie arrival day, a tractor trailer arrived at my home. We filled the garage. Moms & dads picked up all those boxes of cookies that day. Those girls learned to organize orders to make that happen. Cookie money let us sleep under a dinosaur’s head at the Museum of Science, stay at a hotel when we visited Sturbridge Village & stay in tents at camp. Our daughters supported each other through high school, college & masters degrees. They were in each other’s weddings. They get together with their babies. They live the song, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” They even refer to themselves as the “Golden girls”.
As for the other leader moms, we meet at a restaurant once or twice a year. Fun memories!
Shari Burnham - February 23, 2022 4:01 pm
Anither story that keeps my hope for the world alive. Thanks for your columns, and this one in particular.
Kate - February 23, 2022 4:04 pm
I’ve been in Girl Scouts since I was a Brownie in third grade, through being a camp counselor, and now I’m an adult and have joined a troop as a leader with my Kindergartener. I really enjoyed your piece and seeing the comments about the volunteers (mostly moms) that make it all happen. I called my own mom and said, “I don’t remember it being this much work!” I need a head slap emoji! The strong-willed, know it all, five and six year old “super helpers” that are the leaders’ daughters take the most management. Again, I said to my mom, “Mom, I saw that they have patches for the leaders’ daughters and they are cute. What they actually need is a bright orange caution vest so camp staff and volunteers can see them coming and mentally prepare themselves.” My former leader sighed and just said, “I know, honey.”
Kathryn - February 23, 2022 6:26 pm
You probably know this, but for your readers – Thin Mints freeze very nicely! And you can hide a box behind the frozen vegetables for later!!! Just don’t tell!
Linda Moon - February 23, 2022 9:07 pm
I say let’s elect a Girl Scout as our next Leader in the U.S.A. You made a good investment for those Scouts, Mister Dietrich. And Girls, just be yourselves with sincere thanks….no Junior League-style thank-yous are necessary. All of you are winners!
Russell Moulton - February 23, 2022 9:44 pm
MAM - February 23, 2022 10:28 pm
Ah, Girl Scouts. From Brownie to senior and beyond I participated. Our girls were girl scouts, too, but not as long as I was or my Mom, who, for those of you who know about international Girl Guides, led a group of six from the USA and Canada plus girls from Europe when they arrived at Our Chalet in Switzerland. I unfortunately was too young to go. But I started troops in Indonesia and in Turkey when we lived there. We couldn’t get real GS cookies in Indonesia, so we had someone make some trefoil shape cookie cutters, and we moms baked the cookies and sold them for our troops. We had to make many batches of cookies. My mom and I also attended a WAGGGS (World Association of Girls Guides and Girl Scouts) conference when it took place in the U.S. I was honored when I received an adult award for all my years in scouting as a Woman of Distinction for our local council where we live now. Girl Scouts has always been a great program. With yummy cookies!
Karen Kitchens Murphy - February 26, 2022 3:43 am
Thank you Kind Sir for taking the time to talk to those young ladies. I was a Junior and Senior Girl Scout in the 70’s and earning those badges was life changing. Oh, and by the way – You Are Loved.
Pam Williams - February 24, 2022 4:54 pm
Thanks from all of us who have had daughters involved in Scouting and have helped with Girl Scout troops.
Kathleen Malone Crouch - February 26, 2022 12:46 am
You are awesome!
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - February 26, 2022 5:19 am
Sam Hunneman - February 27, 2022 2:36 am
Summer camp at West Winds, an overnight at Camp Soci when we almost froze to death then ate bacon and egg cooked in a paper bag over an open fire… most of us ate the bag too… and pantomime shows (I did “Ahab the Arab”), and craft projects galore. “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold.” Oh, and out troop got a nickel per box of cookies sold. Thanks for the memories!