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Life Skills 101 from the Girl Scouts

In her Wall Street Journal blog (The Juggle) yesterday, Sue Shellenbarger questioned whether fundraisers like Girl Scout cookie sales are helpful developmental experiences for kids or just one more responsibility for working parents to shoulder.  The comments following this blog are running about 50/50 pro and con regarding fundraisers and whether they teach kids responsibility and job skills.  I blogged on a similar topic last summer when my son was selling Cutco knives, but have had the cookie experience as well.  I come down on the side that these experiences do teach kids valuable lessons about planning, teamwork, and having the courage to ask for the order.

I asked our board member, Ruth Bramson, to weigh in on this topic as well.  Ruth is CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and contributed the following guest blog in response to the WSJ post:

We are in the business of preparing girls to set out on their pathways to success in life and careers. Selling Girl Scout cookies is absolutely an important part of that preparation. By selling Girl Scout cookies, girls have chances to succeed and are challenged to stretch themselves to new heights. They develop the self-confidence, vision, wisdom, motivational impact and implementation skills that effective leaders use every day.

There's no question that the Girl Scout cookie selling program can be a very effective life and career skill-building opportunity! These skills include:

Participating in the sale helps girls develop good communication skills to deliver a clear message while interacting with the consumer.

Goal setting helps girls decide what is important for them to achieve in their life. They learn to avoid distractions, stay motivated, and build self-confidence to improve their opportunities for success.

Managing their cookie sale offers excellent project management skills.  They tackle the challenges of coordinating people, schedules, and resources to complete multiple tasks in limited time.

Financial know-how is at the heart of true independence and self-reliance. The basic skills that girls gain through this experience stay with them for a lifetime. Learning to manage money wisely is one of the most important life skills girls can master. We help girls learn how to budget, manage cash flow and even pay bills on time!

Teamwork is the best way to get things done is often to work together to achieve more. Girls gain lots of practice working together toward their goals. All the while, they are improving problem solving abilities, communication and conflict resolution skills.

Networking is one of the most successful methods for gaining a desired position, whether it's a slot on student government today, or a job later in life. Girls learn to develop contacts with people who might be able to help them with their future roles in life.

What's your take on the life skills development value of fundraisers?

Share your insights!

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