Selling cookies and building character

It’s that time of year again — Girl Scout cookie time. This year, for the first time, we have a Girl Scout in our family. Our daughter Becky is a first time Daisy Scout and I am her troop’s co-leader.

I wasn’t a Girl Scout when I was a kid, but instead was a Camp Fire Girl. While there are some similarities — we sold candy instead of cookies — most everything about Girl Scouts is totally new to me.

Being a leader, I can see just how large the Girl Scout organization is, and how many women volunteer countless hours for the girls. Even women whose girls are grown and finished with scouting are still involved and share their passion with us new leaders.

There are so many activities that the girls can attend, and the number will only grow as Becky gets older. Even now there’s something to do almost every weekend.

So far we’ve gone to a campfire sing-a-long, Christmas caroling and parade watching, an art day, a Daisy activity day, a tasting bee and a ballet. That’s in addition to our twice-monthly troop meetings, where the girls sing songs and do crafts and other activities. They are also working to earn their Daisy petals, which symbolize the characteristics of the Girl Scout Law.

Just last Saturday, Becky and I, along with another Daisy and her mom, were selling cookies in front of the Ralphs supermarket in La Crescenta. No matter that it was freezing cold, and even snowing, the girls had fun together.

Besides having fun, though, they learned that day that it takes effort to earn the money that their troop can use later for an outing or some other event. They learned to be courteous with the customers and to use their math skills while counting change.

While Becky is enjoying Girl Scouts, Josh has joined the Boy Scouts as a new Tiger Cub Scout.

Having a child in each type of scouting points out one major difference between the two programs.

Girl Scout events are rarely open to siblings, or tag-alongs, as they are called. While parents are encouraged to become adult members, they are not encouraged to attend the meetings, and often sit on the sidelines at events to allow the girls to work as a group on their own.

The Boy Scouts, on the other hand, highly encourage family participation. Each boy has an adult partner, usually dad, who attends the den meetings and works with the scouts as they earn their ranks. In addition, siblings are generally welcome at the larger pack events.

But no matter what their differences, their common goal is to build character and help make the kids better citizens of the world. That’s something that hasn’t changed in the scouting programs for the century that they’ve been around.

Now let’s get back to cookies. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like Girl Scout cookies. My favorite are the Samoas. Whatever your favorite, please buy a box, or two or three, and help the Girl Scouts work toward their goals.

To find cookie sales near you, go to and click on “Cookies” to see the Cookie Locator. Just type in your ZIP code and you’ll get a list of cookie booths in your neighborhood. Hurry, cookie sales end on March 20.

SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at

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