Why Can't Girl Scouts Be Digital Cookie Pushers?

As Girl Scout Cookie season approaches, the age old conversation around parental involvement in cookie sales is rearing its head. However, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution outlines a new twist - are kids allowed to push Samoas on the internet?

While marketing cookies using email is okay, the leadership of the Scouts has put the kibosh on other online initiatives, hoping to encourage a return to knocking on wood.

In an effort to boost door-to-door sales, the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta is offering new incentives including a specific "Walkabout" patch (featuring a girl taking strides), according to Sarnethia Wilkinson, product sales marketing representative for Girl Scouts Greater Atlanta cookie program. The patch will be given to girls who participate in chaperoned door-to-door sales in early March (or troops can select a different date to do a Walkabout).

It used to be against the rules to send e-mail cookie pitches, but the Girl Scouts reconsidered because technology and e-mail are such a part of the girls' lives, according to Wilkinson. Meanwhile, Internet sales, such as setting up a payment account or creating a Web site to sell the cookies, is strictly prohibited.

Why can't the girls set up their own e-commerce sites? I can completely understand the drive to have girls out and interacting with their communities, instead of passively sitting behind a computer screen and fulfilling orders. However, since the cookie program is about teaching girls life skills, wouldn't website management, maintenance, order fulfillment, and digital marketing all be a vital part of today's skill set? There are lots of ways to make it work - maybe there's a master troop website, or a maximum web allotment (where each girl receives a portion of the web sales, and has to do the rest through more direct sales methods.)

Perhaps the Girl Scouts organization is reluctant to allow online sales because they already beat the kids to the punch:

In ye olden days, a Girl Scout used to come knocking on every door in the neighborhood offering up Thin Mints and Trefoils. Then came the world of two working parents, pedophiles hiding behind doors and a crappy economy. Kids just don't go door-to-door anymore. But that doesn't mean we don't crave minty chocolatey goodness.

So the Girl Scouts have set up a site for you to indulge your inner blue monster - Find Cookies Now connects you with your local Girl Scout Council via zip code.

But providing a cookie connection does not preclude other online sales techniques or strategies. While there is a Cookie Biz badge to reward girls who are willing to do things like create infomercials for Thin Mints, most of the badges related to internet savvy are way too basic, particularly when dealing with older Scouts. It's considered normal for teenage boys to launch web companies in their basements or in their first few years of college, but the GS leaders seem to think teen girls only use the computer for email - even as casual gaming (which girls disproportionately participate in) is becoming a larger industry, and social networking can provide thousands of innovative ways to sell and draw awareness to the cookie drive. If 32% of teen girls have enough web-savvy to build their own sites, clearly, there's a hell of a lot of untapped potential around leveraging technology to benefit the Scouts beyond email based instruction.

Pushing Girl Scouts to push doorbells [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Online Tool Guarantees Girl Scout Cookies Without the Girl [Stollerderby]
Cookie Biz Badge [Girl Scouts]

Computers in Everyday Life
[Girl Scouts]
Girls rule the internet [Napa Valley Register]