By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
As the Hope Chamber community coffee commenced Wednesday, the tradition of Girl Scout cookies was celebrated as the Hope Melonvine Girl Scouts were the official hosts this week.
While most of the girls themselves were in classes, several boxes of the cookies were still being bought and sold, including the forever popular Do-Si-Does and Samoas. The familiar colored boxes, each with their own signature favors like the Thin Mints in green and Tag-A-Longs in red. Savannah Smiles is a zesty lemon cookie in an appropriate bright yellow box, while a new gluten-free cookie, Toffee Tastic has its own sky blue box.
Service Unit Director Mary Johnson has led the Melonvine Girls Scouts in Hope for several years, a service area covering Hope, Blevins, Spring Hill and Fulton. As the primary representative for both the girls and the cookies on Wednesday, Johnson said, “Oh yes, we’ve been selling them; lots of people have come in and bought cookies today.”
Johnson has been working as the local Service Unit Director since 1985, literally mentoring hundreds of girls, and she also involved with Girls Scouts for five years in Kansas prior to coming to Arkansas.
“We probably have 60 to 70 girls in the program locally, and about 30 adults that help us in different stages of our troops,” Johnson said, also noting that Girls Scouts have been around for 100 years and are still going strong. “It is a good organization,” she said.
Nationally, Juliette Gordon Low is credited with founding the Girl Scouts in 1912 with an emphasis on inclusiveness, the outdoors, self-reliance, and service, according the Girl Scouts official website. More than 2.5 million with 1.7 million girls and 750,000 adults are involved in Girl Scouts today.
Girls in the Girl Scouts can range from Kindergarten to High School seniors; some seniors are encouraged to stay on as adult leaders and assist with the troops, Johnson said.
The traditional age range has been girls who are five and eligible for kindergarten, and girls who are 18 and in high school, she said.
The bulk of the local program is still younger girls between ages five and 13 as Johnson said, “About 6th or 7th Grade, there is a lost of interest or new interests in high school activities.”
As far as the popular Girl Scout cookies, their lineage goes back to July 1922, when American Girl magazine ran an article about Florence Neil, a Chicago-based director, who had provided a homemade cookie recipe that had been given to that council’s then-2,000 Girl Scouts.
By 1933, according to the official Girl Scout website, a council in Philadelphia had started selling “commercial-baked cookies” widespread, and by 1937, a council in New York first used the label, “Girl Scout Cookies.”
Johnson said, “I remember selling those cookies when I was in Kansas. They’ve been around for a while, too, and in all sorts of favors. I remember they were 90-cents a box back then, and I remember selling boxes and boxes of them.”
Today, a box of Girl Scout Cookies sells for $5.00, and Johnson said the selling of the cookies locally serve two purposes, one promote confidence and business leadership for the girls, and two, to help raise money for troop’s local activities throughout the year.
“All the girls today just get out and sell a lot of cookies, and they do get out and work at it. The girls have to talk to people to promote the cookies, and this helps build confidence and leadership among them,” Johnson said, “And, a percentage does go back to the local troops, allowing us to buy craft materials, go on trips, and do different things over the summer. It goes back to the girls to allow them to do what they want to do with their cookie profits.”
By Rick Kennedy, managing editor