The Girl Scout Experience

Group of Girl Scouts in front of boxes of cookies

Group of Girl Scouts in front of boxes of cookies

Citrus Council Activities Offer Lessons in Business and Life

For the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council, 2020-21 was supposed to be a time of big happenings and major announcements. And it has been — just not in the way anyone had envisioned.

The council, which encompasses six counties in Central Florida, was supposed to host 15,000 to 20,000 attendees for the Girl Scouts USA conference at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando in October 2020. The event was canceled because of the pandemic. The council was supposed to welcome visitors into the first phase of its new women’s history museum in downtown Orlando, which held its ceremonial opening March 12, 2020. It was shuttered the next day because of COVID-19. The council was planning to launch a new app in August 2020 to help its members communicate, and it did — moving the schedule up to April 2020. But that technology joined another form of electronic communication that became essential: the video Girl Scout troop meeting via Zoom.

Through it all, those proud to call themselves Girl Scouts have smiled and adapted to the world around them. High school student Ana Tew has taken that one step further. She has been documenting the experience as one of the council’s Media Girls. The program teaches the girls how to film what’s going on and get comfortable in front of a camera.

Tew recently took on the role of director during the biggest event of the year for the Girl Scouts of Citrus. She led the team documenting “Mega Drop,” the day thousands of boxes of Girl Scout cookies are distributed to members for the traditional annual cookie program that starts in January.

As a senior Girl Scout who has been part of the group since kindergarten, Tew has worked on more projects than she can recall. This was one of her favorites, the teen said in an interview on i4 Business TV.

“I got the chance to direct for the video that is now on the Girl Scouts page on Instagram,” she said. “I am technically a mentor since I’ve been in the program for so long, so I now help the younger girls learn how to use the cameras and direct and make scripts and storyboards, which is really cool.”

Nationally, the Girl Scouts typically sell almost $ 1 billion a year in cookies, and the Citrus Council accounted for more than $8 million of that figure in 2020. The cookie program experience is an essential part of being a Girl Scout for many reasons, said Maryann Barry, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council.

“The data tells us what the girls take out of this is leadership development and being comfortable talking to different people, making pitches and doing all those things they’re going to need in their business life,” Barry said in the interview on i4 Business TV. “In addition, no matter what path a girl chooses to take, she needs to know how to balance her checkbook and manage her money.”

This year, the girls are getting the added experience of inventory management because their cookie sales are being conducted through the new app. Additionally, the council initiated a partnership this year with Grubhub, an online and mobile food delivery app, to allow consumers to order boxes of cookies along with their takeout meals. That means the girls will be learning how to run a digital business, along with new types of marketing — although some will still uphold the tradition of selling cookies at stations outside grocery stores and other venues, with pandemic-safe measures in place such as masks and contactless transactions.

“It’s an interesting thing: When I speak to girls, and I’ve spoken with thousands over the years, I ask them, ‘What’s your favorite thing about Girl Scouting?’ I would say 65% to 70% of the time they tell me selling cookies,” Barry said. “I see what it does for them. And they do embrace it, they love it. We’re so excited that we’re able to push through the COVID-19 challenges
so the girls can have the experience.”

Participating in the program as a Media Girl while selling cookies herself has been fun, Tew said. After the program wraps up every year, she stays busy with other Girl Scout activities.

In one project she especially enjoyed, she and other Girl Scouts made bracelets with encouraging words on them for girls in foster homes. “Because they were in Christian foster homes, we packaged them with Bible quotes on them. We gave them to the girls to give them a sign of hope and a message of, ‘You can get through this, you can do this.’”

The Citrus Council spans the counties of Brevard, Volusia, Seminole, Lake, Orange and Osceola. Its membership of 18,000 includes about 6,000 adult leaders and 12,000 girls. Each member can tailor her experience to her own interests — a feature Tew appreciates.

“Girl Scouts is a very empowering experience,” she said. “It’s an experience where you get to learn life skills, like how to survive in your environment and how to count money. You get the knowledge to make the world a better place.”

How Business Leaders Can Help

  • Send a bag with a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies to your customers, especially if you’re in a profession like real estate or auto sales.
  • Appreciate your employees with a box of their favorite Girl Scout cookie variety to help ease the stress of the pandemic.
  • Reward clients for dedication for your business during these trying times, especially if you’re in a service like printing or custodial.
  • Show your support for developing young women as future leaders by purchasing cookies and donating them to front-line pandemic heroes.

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i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

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