Saturday, April 04, 2009

An Open Letter the Girl Scouts Re: Cookie Sales

This is Bonnie. Below, is an Open Letter to the Girl Scouts letting them know of our experiences selling Girl Scout cookies. I never thought that I would be so frustrated that I felt compelled to write a letter such as this. To tell you the truth, I'm not that kind of a person. This experience, though, brought it out of me...

Here it is, in its entirety:

It is my opinion, based on my personal experience as Cookie Manager for our Daisy Troop, the cookie sale event this year was disappointing to say the least. What was most troubling was not the sales, but the management of our Service Area Council.

First, the information and instructions were unclear, confusing, and hastily organized. Everything was handed to us in a paper bag and instructions for handling it were given to us like machine gun fire, making it overwhelming, confusing, and impossible to follow without independent research.

Second, the demands that were placed on us were unmanageable. The time it took to meet all of the demands of accounting, sales, deadlines, forms, and reporting cost us a great deal of time and lost income. We were told at the beginning of these cookie sales that the job of managing cookies was not that big of a deal, not to worry, and it could be done without taking too much time away from our lives. Obviously, that was misleading and, had the truth been more transparent and straight forward, we would have not volunteered to do this job.

Third, the communication lines were unprofessional and less than what I anticipated from an organization that most people are proud to be a part of. At first, it was not so bad. Help was available when it was needed and we returned the favor gladly whenever possible. However, as time wore on, the rules, deadlines, requirements, and the dissemination of information effectively diminished. It began with more and revised requirements given to us inconsistently and at a rapid fire pace. Then, confusion began to mount as misunderstandings became insurmountable. Trying to get clarification became a daunting task and, as a result, frustrations continued to grow. Specifically, our Service Area Manager, Linda, extended cookie sales from March 29 to April 4, but our Service Area Cookie Manager, Barbara, later, made it clear that she would not honor the new date due to her upcoming vacation. In an email to me on April 3, Barbara stated, "Bottom line is the decision is mine. I WILL NOT accept any payments or paperwork after noon on Saturday the 4th" and "Yes, Council extended the sale but I upped my deadline by 1 day." Then, unexpectedly, she moved the submission date and time up again, with only about three hours notice, to no later than Friday night at 9 pm. What a surprise that was! As a result, all troops in this service area are paying for Barbara's unfortunately planned vacation.

In all, my family is glad this experience is over. This was a job that we did out of love for the families in our troop and it cost us dearly. In the future we will not be participating in cookie sales with this troop or any other troop as our daughter progresses through the ranks of Girl Scouts. In fact, our daughter said that she doesn't want to do cookie sales ever again and that she doesn't care about the patches and incentives because she only cared about having fun and this wasn't fun. Isn't this what cookie sales are supposed to be about, though? Having fun, gaining self confidence, working together as a team, and being supportive of your Girl Scout sisters? In summary, our Service Area Council failed us, it came down through the ranks and, as a result, we were all let down by our leaders.

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