Thursday, February 4, 2010

return of the cookie mom

I am the official "cookie mom" for my 10 year-old's girl scout troop, not so much because I love the job...but more for the fact that I love my daughter, and also I got suckered into it last year and nobody else's mom stepped up to the plate this year. While the title, "Official Cookie Mom" sounds like a fun (and yummy) title; it is not nearly as fabulous or glamorous as it sounds. Plus, you don't get any extra cookies. Darn.

I don't know if the general public appreciates the supreme organization that is the Girl Scout Cookie Sales. I mean, you think you're just buying a box of thin mints from a cute girl, right? Think again. The cookie sales are a highly organized and complex process, complete with cutting-edge software for ordering and distribution, relying entirely on the free labor of ignorant moms (like me) who have underestimated the organizational awesomeness of the Girl Scout Council. Let me walk you through the process:

  1. Cookie sales begin. This is the time that you will see cute, little girl scouts popping up all over the place wanting you to buy some cookies from them. This usually lasts about three weeks.

  2. Cookie orders get placed. This is the cookie mom equivalent of "hell week". Cookie moms have to figure out how to navigate a complex ordering system that they have had no formal (or informal, for that matter) training on and ensure the appropriate number of cookies is ordered for each girl within their specific group (which, in the case of my daughter's troop, is thousands). We generally have to have this done in three days.

  3. Cookies are delivered. Usually about three weeks after the orders have been placed, they are sent out on a truck and delivered to the different troops for pickup. Again, this day is ridiculous, since they don't tell you when the truck will arrive, exactly; just the date, and that the moms will receive a call when the truck gets close to town. What this equates to is an entire day where I can't plan anything so I don't miss the cookie truck.

  4. Delivery saga, continued. Once the truck arrives at the drop-off point, mass chaos inevitably ensues, as every cookie mom and/or volunteer waiting undoubtedly knows the fastest, easiest, and best method of getting the cookies unloaded. This usually amounts to a bunch of people running around doing a bunch of different things and wreaking total havoc, while the cookie truck drivers sit and watch with big smiles on their faces (they're the drivers, after all. They don't need to do anything else). Eventually, though, the cookies are delivered to the troops, the parents pick up the cookies, and we all go home to deliver our wares to our customers.

  5. Money turn-in. A couple of weeks after the cookies are sent with each girl to get delivered, each girl is responsible for turning in the money that she collected from her customers. By this time, just about everyone is sick to death of girl scout cookies and everything that goes with them, so it is sometimes necessary for the cookie mom to make some phone calls to the girls to round up the money. Fun. Then, it's back to the cookie ordering system to account for the money, order incentives (prizes equivalent to Chuck-E-Cheese tokens for all the work these girls have done up to this point), and deposit the money in the bank. Whew.

One thing that I do have to say about the entire Girl Scout cookie process, though, is that the girls and their troops do benefit quite a bit from cookie sales. The money that is raised stays within the organization, and the troops get to use it for things they want to do. For instance, my daughter's troop decided they would like to go camping this summer, and the cookie money allowed them to do it, including paying for the campground, food, and fun activities. I was lucky (or, again, insane) enough to be a chaperone for the camping trip. But, that's another post....

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