Think Thin Mints: Local Scouts attend Cookie College

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Saturday, January 25, 2014

JANESVILLE—When I was a girl scout, your leader gave you the cookie form and you went out and rang doorbells for blocks and blocks.

Then you went to camp and had the best time ever.

Now, they have “Cookie Carnival” that includes “Girl Scout Cookie College” where you learn about money management, setting goals, and a product line that now includes new gluten-free chocolate chip cookie.

We had no idea what gluten was. Our goal was usually was to sell a bunch of cookies.

Those were simpler times.

On Saturday, more than 175 girls and their scout leaders attended the Cookie Carnival at Craig High School.

Selling cookies has been a fundraiser—and a learning experience—for the Girl Scouts since 1922, said Eliza Zimmerman, program specialist for the Badgerland Council.

“Now we're trying to be more intentional in our approach to teaching those skills, both for our internal and external customers,” Zimmerman said.

That means that when you ask your local scout what she's raising money for, or which cookies are vegan—yes, vegan—she'll know the answer.

The five skills the girls are supposed to learn as part of the cookie-selling process are decision making, money management, ethics, customer service and goal setting, said Sara Danor, relationship manager for Badgerland Girl Scouts.

Danor ran a cookie college “class” like a quiz-show-style game.

“How many of the cookies have chocolate in them,” she'd ask, and the girls would all frantically try to buzz in first.

Another class asked girls to take dry beans from a cup and put them on a card containing goals such as “buy arts and crafts supplies” or “go to camp.”

The exercise was designed to encourage thoughtful goal setting.

Nevaeh Richter, 5, of Watertown, didn't need to think about it. She put all her beans in the “go to camp” square.

How many boxes of cookies did she plan to sell to get there?

“Fifteen hundred,” she said.


“I like to go swimming,” Richter said simply.

Other stations encouraged girls to draw pictures of what they'd like to do, connect the business of selling cookies to the Girl Scout Promise and practice explaining to customers what they were going to do with the money they raised.

A troop of girls from Edgerton had been to camp and had, of course, the best time ever. Their recollections about camp were interspersed with what they planned to do at camp in the future such as horseback riding, canoeing, and apparently, eating Thin Mints.

Carmen Crandall, 11, remembers going on a hike at Camp Stetler in Richland Center, where she learned about camouflage and raccoons followed her troop leader.

They also used Oreo cookies—Girl Scout Cookies must have been out of season—to learn about the phases of the moon.

They were allowed to eat the cream filling to get the proper phases of moon.

When asked the difference between the new moon and full moon, the hands shot up in the air and vibrated with excited knowledge.

A full moon is when the moon is, well, full. A new moon is when the moon is invisible or nearly so.

Full moon, full cookie. New moon, no cookie.

After Saturday's Cookie College, the moon won't be a factor. It's going to be all cookies, all the time.

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