Troop Leader’s Petition Calls Out Girl Scouts For Gender-Stereotyped Cookie Program Prizes, Demands More Balanced Options

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“…plush toys, play spatulas, jewelry boxes, nail wraps, mixing bowls and cookie stamps.” These items were among the 20 or so options some local Girl Scouts were able to choose from in a recent survey about “what cookie prizes they would like to receive in 2017.” A kickball and a water bottle, were the only two that “had anything to do with physical activity,” and respondents could not offer their own suggestions. So Jennifer Rotar, co-leader of Troop 70700 in Berthoud, CO, decided to take action by launching a petition demanding that Girl Scouts of the USA “put the ‘Scout'” back in their cookie prizes.

“Stereotyping girls’ interests in the prize selection doesn’t encourage them to be themselves.”

In the last 6 days, the petition, which is addressed to Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA, Anna Maria Chávez, as well as Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakery, has already garnered nearly 3,500 signatures of its 5,000 signature goal. In it, Jennifer articulates why the incentives offered to Scouts for participation should have “at least a BALANCE of camping, outdoors or activity themed prizes,” arguing that the organization needs to reflect on what “Girl Scouts is really about” when it comes to making those determinations.

She writes

Why must girls be offered a majority of items that emphasize traditional feminine appearance, fashion, cooking, etc? Please stop pigeonholing girls into traditional roles and give them choices that reflect their wide range of interests that have nothing to do with gender. Please give them some choices that reflect outdoor activities, sports, science, exploration and creativity.

She adds

The Girl Scout program, including badges, journeys and leadership opportunities, teaches our daughters social responsibility, environmental awareness, financial sense, self-awareness, relationship sense, entrepreneurial skills and community service (and more). Girl Scout badges promote outdoor skills, life skills, and artistic skills. The reward program for most popular fundraiser in our country should reflect the values of the program and celebrate the girls who are doing the work.

She concludes by offering some great alternatives for a broader range of prize options, acknowledging that “Yes, some girls like nail wraps and jewelry boxes, but not ALL girls.”

Considering that the Girl Scouts main site talks about how a girl who participates in the cookie program will experience “running her very own cookie business, working with others—and building a lifetime of confidence as she learns five skills essential to leadership, success, and life,” there is clearly room for improvement when it comes to their current prize incentives, which, from what we understand, can vary from council to council. In her fight for more balanced offerings, here are Jennifer’s suggestions…

Money for trips, outings, adventures, programs
Tickets to amazing opportunities
Binoculars to look to the horizon
Telescopes to reach for the stars
Microscopes to focus on the details
Compasses to find their way
Tents, sleeping bags, pads for outdoor adventures
Mess kits and camp stoves for meals on the go
Legos to encourage engineering skills
Science kits for their brilliant minds
Pocket Knives and Multi Tools for their nimble hands
Art sets to encourage their creativity
Sports equipment to challenge their physical abilities
Yoga mats for strength and flexibility
Games – card games and board games, to encourage friendship

Jennifer, who says she loves being a Girl Scout leader, wrote in an petition update yesterday, “I think that modeling ‘Take Action’ in our own lives is one of the best things that we can do for our girls.”

Of the petition’s progress, she noted, “I have had a very meaningful conversation with a representative of my Council here in Colorado, but I am still waiting to hear back from Little Brownie Bakers and have yet to reach a human being at ABC Bakers.” She has vowed to continue to follow through until she receives “a meaningful response from GS headquarters.” Her ultimate goal is to have the organization “set minimum standards for quality and consistency in the incentive prizes” at the national level.

Lead image: Little Brownie Bakers 2015-2016 Cookie Season Mascot, Daisy Belle the Cow

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