Social Media Fail – @GirlScouts Crush A Girl’s Social Good, Then Make It Worse!

After an amazing #SMRebelsHelp chat last night where our young 11 year old guest, @emmavermaak01 joined to talk about her project to not just sell a few cookies, but to raise donations for many more cookies that could be sent to our troops over seas, everything completely fell apart. Even though the Girl Scouts twitter account heard about it and gave Emma kudos for her efforts, everything changed the next afternoon when apparently a jealous mom in Emma’s troop contacted officials, resulting in some organization executives getting involved.

Social Media Fail
photo credit: amanky via photopin cc

The word to Emma’s mom? – Emma is not allowed to accept donations via PayPal for the Girl Scouts “I Care Program” for cookies for troops. She can only take cash or checks.

According to the national website: “What Do Girl Scouts Do? Girl Scouts earn badges, hike and camp, participate in the cookie program, and much more. They improve neighborhoods, protect the planet, design robots, and establish sports clinics.”

Apparently only with cash and checks…  Seriously Girl Scouts? What year are you stuck in?

Here are the main issues I see with this massive fail by the Girl Scouts in this situation.

1) This is 2013. We are all online and no longer live in the same neighborhoods, cities or even states. Our families, friends and associates are spread around the world. Cash and checks are no longer even something I use! How can a young girl change the world and touch hundreds of soldiers if she is stuck in 1950?

2) This is still 2013. We are all in social media. We highlighted a young girl with initiative that you taught to have such initiative and supported her effort to make a difference. We did it in social media and reached over 500,000 people in the process. You tweeted her that she is doing exactly what Girl Scouts is all about.

3) The only response in the social graph from the organization regarding this situation is as seen in the image below. Not so helpful…

Social Media Fail4) Tracking funds – A comment was made that when donations or sales are made via PayPal, there is no way for them to track it and prove all monies are being given over. Really? But you guys are able to do that with cash payments? Seriously ridiculous.

As if bad could get any worse. It can and does.

In an interview with Emma’s mother this afternoon, I found out that Emma’s own troop leader is the one who alerted the Council. It appears that some jealousy about her child not selling the most cookies may be the reason for the tattle telling mom. This mom currently has friends selling cookies FOR her daughter out of the local Red Robin.  Hmmmm, I wonder if that is also a trait taught by the national program? I hope not…

Emma’s mother had a conversation with the local council VP of Retail and Product Sales, whom was “pretty rude”. She said, “that by us helping Emma get the word out on social media, we are not helping her to learn real skills like she does by going door to door.”

Mind you, this campaign of Emma’s is in “addition” to doing all the door to door activity she is already doing, in an effort to raise donations for MORE cookies to be given to our troops.

The VP continued by saying. “The online, social media stuff does not matter because it is behind a computer. Not real life!!”

Needless to say, Emma’s mother and I were shocked. What year is this organization living in? We are all now online, in social media and therefore what better skills should be taught to these young girls?

I for one am floored at the snotty response, backward thinking and utter ignorance to social media and its place in the world today by this organization. I for one will not allow my daughter to be involved in an organization that has leaders more concerned about their kids “winning” than the good that one young lady was attempting to achieve for lonely soldiers. I for one will not support an organization that sells a product using methods that are so clearly out of date that it is in no way preparing their children members for the realities of the world today. I for one will be boycotting Girl Scouts and their cookie selling venture that seems to be more about  bloated executive teams, their control of others, their salaries and not the girls they say they are teaching.

I say we get @Oreo involved with the cookies for troops campaign, let Emma head up the social media for it and get Oreo cookies in the bellies of soldiers all around the world, showing them we care for them and support young people with social good at their core! Make sure you tweet this article to Oreo, so they’re aware of what’s happening!

Who’s with me?

*UPDATE – Emma and her mom have modified the link for donations. So many people asked how they could send checks, that the donate button takes you to the information to send your donation for Emma’s mission to send cookies to our troops.

Robert M. Caruso
Robert M. Caruso is a long time social media professional and founder of Bundlepost, the first social content management system. His company develops social media technologies that increase social media agencies and marketers efficiency, effectiveness and profitability. Robert also consults brands internationally on their social media marketing and writes weekly for his company blog.


  1. says

    I feel your anger and it's totally understandable.
    As a parent who dealt with Scouts and Brownie Parent politics when I lived in the "burbs", I can't say that I'm surprised.

    The fact that the charitable spirit of this initiative has been buried under the pettiness and bullshit of institutional bureaucracy and parental ego, reflects a sad reality that most people out there value their own self interests over others.

    Unfortunately, it also puts a light on people who can't see beyond 1980.

    All the Guides had to do if they were concerned about competitive disadvantage (in America, really?), was to not include Emma's online fundraising counted – but give her a damn badge for initiative and creativity.

    I'll be tweeting Oreo.

    • says

      Thank you Ray! It really sucked when I had to tell her today. She went to school on Cloud 9 this morning, super excited. She texted me at lunch to ask if anyone else had donated cookies. I didn't have the heart to tell her until after school. :(

      • Jenny G. says

        As a former Girl Scout from the 70s, a Girl Scout mom and volunteer for over 15 years, I must say, you should people should be completely ashamed of yourselves. I got on Twitter tonight, and I'm almost embarrassed that you all are angry with Girl Scouts the way that you are. Let me say this:

        1. The Girl Scout cookie program is intended to teach girls the 5 skills, one of which are people skills. Yes, your daughter is getting skills by promoting her service online, but the fact that you're bitching and complaining that the national policy doesn't fit YOUR specific needs and desires is repulsive. There are TONS of other girls giving to troops the PROPER way, not by going online and setting up a Paypal account, which, if you read your handbook, you'd know was AGAINST THE RULES.

        2. I've had it with all of this "OMG IT'S 2013 SERIOUSLY?" Yes, those of us who have not been on Twitter all day in a fit of rage have looked at the calendar many times. But those who care more about upholding the legacy than promoting our daughter's program that alienated the rest of her troop see that the founder would roll over in her grave if she saw that instead of girls getting off of their asses and GOING OUT to talk to people, push the message, and receive donations that way, they're sitting behind a computer and composing tweets in order to raise money. The Girl Scouts are leaders in their community, not just their online community. Many troops have raised money to send cookies to troops, and have done so by going door to door and spreading the word in their interactions with people. The older girls in my troop always promote sales on Twitter, but it's pretty much "Girl Scout 101" common sense that setting up a Paypal account is illegal in this org. And even if headquarters did eventually set up online selling, which my council says may be an option in the future, how much will our girls REALLY learn? And besides, how many girls under 18 really know how to conduct sales online, and can manage numbers they see on a Paypal account? Maybe my girls are underdeveloped, but NO GIRL UNDER THE AGE OF 15 CAN ADEQUATELY MANAGE SALES ON PAYPAL THE WAY THEY CAN MANAGE CASH. With that said, the majority of sales would be conducted by the parents, not the girls, correct?

        Girls aren't learning nearly as much conducting sales online as they do with face-to-face interaction.

        3. How would you feel if your daughter tried to conduct face to face sales and someone said, "No thanks, I bought mine online from some girl in Wisconsin." Or if a girl greeted a family during her booth sales and asked them to donate, and they say, "Sorry, I just donated to a Girl Scout troop online." Selling online totally robs our girls of the opportunity to raise money for THEIR troop and council. It's a shame that someone as media savvy and "fake passionate" about Girl Scouting as you can't even see that.

        It's so sad that we live in a time where people that sit behind their computer for hours bitching and complaining are encouraging our daughters to do the same. Shame on you people.

        It's clear that here, you're doing this for nothing more than selfish reasons. You don't care about the troops. You don't even care about Girl Scouting. You care about your daughter making the most sales in her troop. It's disgusting. If it was really about raising awareness, your daughter would encourage everyone to donate to their local troop to fund THEIR donations to the troops overseas. But no, it's not about raising awareness for troops. It's about raising awareness for your daughter. You alienated the whole troop with your video and your articles, not once suggesting that girls donate their money to the troop as a whole.

        God have mercy on your soul for all of this bashing you've done of this organization. By all means, go to Oreo. But with your hateful tweets, and your spreading of hate, it wouldn't surprise me if they refused to conduct business with you, too.

        • Erica S. says

          Are you serious lady? Pull your freaking head out of the old ages and realize social media is the future…and not to mention how unsafe it’s becoming to go door to door. Wow…. clearly you know nothing about adapting to the times and also didn’t read that this girl HAS ALREADY DONE DOOR TO DOOR sales in addition to this.

        • HeartAGlow says

          Dear Jenny, I am one of the "you people" you refer to. It's apparent that you care deeply about the Girl Scouts, and care enough to express your opinions. There are many things you said that I would welcome an opportunity to to discuss with you further. I am in Victoria, BC, Canada… Where are you? I am not being facetious . I can't afford to travel.. you are welcome anytime to come to my door. If it is not possible for us to arrange a face to face meeting, how would you recommend that we continue to communicate? Honestly, I fear that this sounds sarcastic… and I truly don't mean it to be so… I don't know another way to word this… I'd like to talk with you further and address the points you have made., and I don't know any other way to do so, than via computer.
          I'm pretty easy going… whatever works for you…
          If you'd like to respond on this blog… or email me, or call me, or come by for a visit…
          Please let me know.. I'll gladly provide any contact info so we can communicate further.
          Kind Regards,

        • Jiggs says

          Yes it's important we donate to troops "the right way" because if you do it the wrong way, the donation actually blows up like a grenade. Thank God you've saved the troops from those "wrong" extra donations!

        • says

          Jenny, you are certifiably insane. Your diatribe serves as a very good example of a number of things that are wrong with your country (Girl Guides included). You especially have given me cause to reflect more on how I should act in these situations, so thank you for that.

        • Lisa says

          That would be true if the GIRLS and not their PARENTS were selling the cookies. I haven't seen a Girl Scout selling cookies except outside the local grocery store. All the other cookies sales are from Mommy and Daddy pushing them at work.

        • says

          It’s obvious that this story has inspired a lot of emotion in you. I think your response is longer than the actual article. I don’t think it’s necessary to address each of your points, but I would like to point out that Emma has been selling off line. She’s qualified for the Walkabout patch by selling 200 boxes door to door within the first two weeks of cookie season. She has participated in the booth sales, four so far with another 15 yet to do, all while maintaining is 4.0 GPA in her first year of middle school.

          Emma’s desire to collect donations for I Care was a result of her booth sales experience. She saw that not very many people were donating to the troops. She has seen me working and knows about social media. When the opportunity arose to spread the word about I care in a big way, she was excited! Now you want to criticize her and me, as her mother, for helping her to use social media to spread awareness? This is not about selling the most boxes of cookies. What does Emma have to gain by selling the most? If you’re talking about the prizes, she has already chosen to donate the prizes to children who have lost parents in the military. She’s a sweet little girl who is doing this out of the goodness of her heart, augmenting her regular selling by using the tools at her disposal, namely social media. Why? Because at 11 years old, she knows something that apparently you do not: social media works.

          If you want to criticize someone, why don’t you criticize her troop leader that started this whole fiasco because she was concerned that Emma might possibly take in more donations than her own daughter. This woman is so competitive but she’s having a friend sell Girl Scout cookies out of Red Robin. Do you have any idea of the sheer volume of boxes these girls are pressured to sell? Do you know why they need to sell so many cookies? I do. I looked it up yesterday. In order to meet the $200,000 in salaries paid to the two top executives at just our LOCAL council, our girls have to sell 80,000 boxes of cookies. 80,000 just to pay their salaries! Funny, I didn’t see that in the rulebook.

          As to your misguided assertion that I knew beforehand it was against the rules to use Pay Pal, I was told we couldn’t use it to conduct online sales we could use PayPal Anywhere. Regardless, Emma wasn’t connecting sales she was collecting donations to send cookies to the troops for the Girl Scout through their I Care program.

          So the next time you want to start criticizing my sweet little daughter I suggest you get your facts straight. You are nothing more than a bully, just like the troop leader that started all of this.

          • Emily says

            Sorry this was written on my phone.I actually worked at a girl scout council for five years as a director of membership. You would be appalled by the way senior executives discuss the cookie program. it paid our salaries, extremely inflated salaries, for a nonprofit i might add. Senior staff drove Mercedes and jaguars, unfathomable for a small non profit. And every year the girls were tasked to sell more and more cookies without any real gain. Generally i felt that the organization was borderline corrupt with inflated egos and a tendency to be years if not decades behind the times which ultimately had reduced the relevancy and appeal of the girl scout brand to todays girls. The organization as a whole has been in panic mode for years and its just continuing and it trickles down to the girls and volunteers that ultimately suffer. Hoping this doesn’t come across as too biased however everything was based on first hand experiences.

        • KO T says

          Jenny G.

          I am with you. Twitter mom was warned time and again that using a personal paypal account to accept donations was not acceptable. She thinks she is above the rules that millions of other leaders, moms and girls have followed – and continue to follow.

          The reasons the paypal is not allowed is simple:

          1) No way for council to track money deposited into your own, private account. If you are honest 100% will go to ICARE donations. If not, any amount will go in your personal piggy bank. It’s about keeping honest people honest.

          2) You take away sales from girls in other states, around the country, if you sell online. Period. Not a fair way to play. Period.

    • Daniel Hebert says

      I had the same thoughts as you – let Emma do her mission, just don't count the donations against her total sales. Solves the whole issue.

    • Kittie Walker says

      I couldn't agree with you more, Ray. It's exactly the same over here in the UK, so I'm not surprised by their reaction at all.

      I'll be Tweeting Oreo too!

  2. ideagirlmedia says

    Absolutely well-written!! Indeed a dark day for a national organization.

    While I was a girl scout, and I learned some great things and did some cool stuff — I even still have my vests, beanies, and badges…

    By the time my daughter reached the age to join Girl Scouts, we were treated with similar attitude. My daughter was not a brownie or a girl scout, and I've always felt sorry that she did not have the opportunity for some of the experiences I had as a girl.

    But we DO need to forge forth, and we DO need to stay current. What Emma was doing could have been fit into the grand cookie jar with some compromise if "leaders" really wanted to be leaders.

    Ray is exactly correct in how this could have been handled. I'd say Emma learned everything she was suppose to — and more — AND even taught her community around her a thing or two.

    The determined me would be one to solicit people to flood her with actual checks and let real cookies fly. But I think Robert has a point in tweeting Oreo.

    ………We already know they can already "dunk in the dark!"

    Thanks, Robert, for relating this series of events.


  3. Elizabeth Traub says

    I seriously cried reading this. Taking off the business hat and putting on my mommy hat. What a heartbreak of events for this 11 year old girl. Well written Robert and if OREO does not step in I swear I will bake chocolate chip cookies to ship out on behalf of Emma. Elizabeth Traub

  4. says

    The buzz and joy that came from last night's #SMRebelsHelp tweetchat to help the soldiers was amazing… How can something that is SO OBVIOUSLY GOOD and spearheaded by an 11 year old girl turn out to be so bad? This is so backwards to what we should be teaching our future generation that it's not even funny!

    Emma, I hope you read this. What you did last night, putting others before yourself, was amazing. Don't let this little setback change you and your goals. You're going to do incredible things. We need more Emmas in this world. :)

  5. says

    Well stated Robert. This is truly a shame and another example of bureaucracy and backwards thinking effecting free thinkers and bright individuals. I can't tell you how many people I shared the story with of last night success. An 11 year old girl taking the initiative to do something for someone else. She used the resources around her to not only sell cookies but to help out our troops also.

    Really door to door sales? She more than held her own in a realtime chat with adults ranging from 30-60 years of age. I had a neighbor's daughter come to my door a few weeks back selling Girl Scout cookies and she could barely look me in the face and I have known her for years.

    The real crime here is that troop mother and I use the term very loosely troop leader is more concerned with her daughter winning than taking pride in a fellow troop member showing initiative and good will. Shame on the Girl Scouts and shame on THAT mother.

    For what it is worth I am proud to have met and shared online conversations with a bright, shining star in Emma. I just hope this set back doesn't derail her giving spirit. It is time for change.

  6. says

    I caught the very end of #SMRebelsHelp tweetchat last night and I was excited to see the initiative of Emma and her cause. To hear about this deeply saddens me.

    Especially how Girl Scouts tweeter her back about the The "oh-so-important" people skills she needed to develop! Not to mention the clown of a VP saying "The online, social media stuff does not matter because it is behind a computer. Not real life!!” …..How much money is this person losing the company right now!?

    Emma is a real person, there's a video of her in front of the camera speaking about her mission. It's authentic! This IS real life.


    Hopefully this picks up some steam and gets the attention of Oreo. I'm not worried about Girl Scouts finding out as they probably still use messenger pigeons or smoke signals to communicate.

    Thanks for this Robert! I Tweeted it out!

  7. says

    And to think that Girl Scouts is about leadership. The last time I checked leadership meant not letting other people's narrow-minded perspectives bring you down. Rise above, Emma! You and your mom are great leaders. They need to find a way to make this up to you both, stat.

    and Oreo's are by FAR better than Girl Scout cookies, anyway. let's Dunk in the Dark!! :)

  8. HeartAGlow says

    I would like to comment on @girlscouts comment "That must happen in person to build oh-so-important people skills"

    Emma, at age 11 1/2, participated in an online chat, for over an hour; with a whole bunch of adults she had never met…. who spend most of their lives on-line. That would be an intimidating endeavour for almost anyone of any age! She did it with poise and cheerfulness. (to say nothing of extraordinary tweeting and chatting skills!) She answered every question and comment posed to her clearly and succinctly. She was invariably polite and gracious.

    At the same time, she clearly stated her answers, her motives, her process, her suggestions about how we could help her in her cause to support the troops through donations to Girl Scouts. I was weeping at the end of the chat; weeping with joy to know that such young people exist.

    For Girl Scouts to imply or flat out state, that this is *not* a way to build "People skills", is perhaps the most ridiculous comment I've heard in my life. How DARE they ? I so often hear people of my generation (born in 1950) complaining about the 'apathy of youth these days'. We should all be dancing with joy and empowering /supporting such young people to be the change..

    Emma not only 'held her own', she shone in what had to be an intimidating process. She touched our hearts and inspired us with her passion. She enlisted us to her cause because of how well spoken and caring she is.

    In what universe, let alone decade or century, is this not building 'people skills'?

    Thank you Emma..You are a beacon of light and hope.

  9. says

    Dumb rules require circumvention, not adherence. Surely there must be a friend with Paypal who can collect orders, then she can go over door to door, collect one GIANT check, and stick it to all these petty, 1980s and disturbing beauracratic "rules."

  10. says

    Archaic isn't enough to describe the behavior of girl or boy scout leadership. Using a computer is a marvelous skill and to be so savvy at it for the good of others is a credit to Emma. Shame on leadership. How stupid, and if the rat really is the troop leader she needs an attitude adjustment, retraining, or just getting barred from the organization.

    • HeartAGlow says

      "savvy"…that's the word I was looking for.. Emma displayed not only heart and passion; but tech AND social savvy… far surpassing skills of many (adult) people I know. Well said Trudi..

  11. dawnmentzer says

    Very frustrating and a lot of politics and bureaucracy in play. Sadly, volunteers of these larger nonprofits our bound by rules and regs that anchor them and prevent creativity and innovation. I was a GS leader for 4 years (have been in just an assistant and registered parent role for the last 3), and know well the limitations. Crazy…but reality! And it probably won't get any better any time soon. :-(

    • bundlepost says

      Well then we need to hold them accountable. I will not be supporting the organization. And BTW – The Regional VP I mentioned. Found out she makes $140,000/year. Yes, that's right. Child volunteer labor earning money for her salary. I am disgusted…

  12. Donna Ginghram says

    Rules are rules. You spoiled brats must learn to abide by them or get out the game. Must be nice to feel so entitled.

    • says

      Rules are rules? Spoiled brats? Really? Our nation is built on the backs of men brave enough to stand up against oppressive “rules”. Change is hard, but it must be had or else organizations such as the girl scouts will become irrelevant (regardless of their delicious cookies). And how are they spoiled? For having an opinion? A dream? Being considerate? Using social media for good? Unbelievable remarks from the safety of your own computer.

    • HeartAGlow says

      Dear Donna,
      a. What rules are you referring to?
      b. to whom are you referring to in your "spoiled brats/entitled " comment and why?
      You may have something worthwhile to contribute to this conversation; but you are so vague as to come across as meaningless. I'm thinking maybe you posted on this thread by accident,meaning it to go somewhere else, as it seems to hold no relevance whatsoever to this conversation?

    • says

      Rules aren't just "rules." Rules are made into rules after what is considered a societal "norm." In the 1980s, having cash and check orders for cookies was considered a societal norm. We live in 2013 now, where PayPal is the preferred payment method for MANY businesses over a check (hello, eBay?).

      The "spoiled brats" comment is ridiculous and uncalled for. How is Emma and the rest of those interested in her cause spoiled? They're spoiled because they would like to help a young girl accomplish her goal of gathering funds and donating cookies to soldiers across seas? Yes, very spoiled indeed, and how entitled of her to try to put her plan into action and hope that others will want to help her cause.

      Think before you speak.

  13. @emmavermaak01 says

    I just wanted to say thank you soooooo much for caring. I am so thankful to have so many wonderful people take the time to help out. I know that no matter what happens, I will always be thankful for you. Emma.

    • Kittie Walker says

      Well done Emma , for stepping up to the mark. Don't let the controversy get you down or stop you from doing what you feel is right. You're doing amazing things :)

    • says

      Emma, thank YOU for being a leader. You may have had one setback here, but please don't let it discourage you. Rise up above it, keep innovating, keep being creative and above all, don't lose hope.

  14. abbeshops says

    As if the fact that GS cookies contain GMO's isn't enough reason for me to want to stop buying them altogether. I was considering just making monetary donations to our local troop in lieu of buying them. Now, with their antiquated thoughts about social media & condescending response to a girl scout who was only trying to help raise as much money as possible, I have no desire to give them my money and will share this on the non-real life social media & let's see how big this story blow up and the backlash they will get…

  15. says

    The girls I know who are in scouts have been told NOT to go door-to-door! And I have seen LOTS of moms posting on Facebook about cookies. I guess because people are more likely to buy if the cookies are going to troops. Wow. So glad we're not in scouts. They're idiots. I hope oreo picks this up and runs with it. I'd buy cookies from her through paypal!

  16. says

    Sara, you have such a sarcastic sense of humor. I wonder where you got that from?

  17. says

    So tragic that a young girl who is CLEARLY exhibiting marvelous leadership skills – not to mention an incredibly kind heart – can be derailed first by a petty woman who's job it is to TEACH these very skills AND worse, that the organization that was apparently working to instill these very traits is now putting up roadblocks with nothing more than a simple shrug of their 1982 shoulders.

  18. says

    • bundlepost says

      Thank you Luz. Not sure what we can do beyond what we are doing. Don't want to be bully-like in trying to get support for this cause, ya know?

  19. Alexis says

    The world sure does need more people like Emma! I will be tweeting @Oreo-that’s a fantastic solution (and so was her original idea in my opinion).

  20. Stephanie says

    When organizations grow too big, innovation often dies . . . I remember when each of my nieces went thru Girl Scouts they were not allowed to go door-to-door. The "rules" disallowed it. Their leaders could coordinate selling at local stores, but no door-to-door. So that means NO person-to-person sales. Instead, there was pressure on co-workers of their parents and on their relatives. Their selling merits/badges, etc. became totally based upon the work of their parents. So this gal tries something that guarantees the kids don't interact with bodysnatchers or what-have-you, yet still it is disallowed. I hate when institutions become fearful of change. Poor kid. Hope she's not too disenchanted by this!

  21. Jeanine Vecchiarelli says

    I'm with you too, Robert. Thanks so much for bringing this whole dark episode into the light. I'm so glad my daughter never continued on with her girl scout affiliation. We could see even at her tender age the politics involved in the organization, and it was a real turn off. My heart goes out to Emma for all the good she wanted to do. It is unspeakable that she was stymied by adherence to a senselessly outdated rule…made even WORSE by that jealous mother. How dare she go up against an 11 year old who only wanted to do good for a wonderful cause! I'm sorry, but that "mother" needs a good b*tch slapping…

    • says

      The Truth,

      Want to have your side heard? Try writing a comment that adds value to the conversation and not just some rant that calls people inappropriate names. I will not allow such foolishness on SteamFeed.

      P.S. Want to be real? Try using your real name and be heard instead of hiding behind a fake email.

    • Daniel Hebert says

      You wouldn't want us to actually post these comments, "The Truth". They were very hateful, especially towards social media professionals. You would receive a lot of backlash from the community if they would have been live, and we don't want that to happen.

      To protect both you and SteamFeed, we chose not to post the comments.

  22. says

    Ironically, through this move and stupid policy, Girlscouts prove why social media skills are "oh so" necessary. They made it so much worse by pretending that this bureaucracy is for the sake of the children. Like heck it is.

  23. Barbara says

    Sorry that Girl Scouts do not support efforts to support our troups and are such a poor example to others. Supporting bullying – and I do put this in that catagory – is horrific and the decision of the Girl Scout organization is not only supporting bulling behavior but becoming part of it.

  24. Kittie Walker says

    Wow shocking turn of events. Well articulated Robert.

    The Girl Scouts should be ashamed of themselves. I had a less than pleasant experience with the troop leader petty mindedness and favouritism when my daughters were growing up. So much so that I withdrew my daughters from the troop. Which is sad because I had an amazing experience as a Brownie.

    Something has definitely been lost along the way by this organisation.

  25. Jennifer Olney says

    As a former Girl Scout – and top seller when I was there in the 80's, this reeks of the Girl Scouts wanting the control the money and not allow for their girls to show leadership in own way. My recent experience with the Cub Scout solidified my belief that both organizations are not the best way for boys and girls to learn real world skills. It is apparent there are too many rogue parents in these organizations who are spoiling this for the kids. It is not about the kids, it is about parents who wish to manipulate these organizations for their own agendas.

  26. says

    I have a daughter who is a brownie and I was a former girl scout, myself. As a troop leader now, I am seriously annoyed and frustrated with how the GS organization operates. So very different that boy scouts, as my husband has been cub master to our boys' pack for almost 5 years. It's hard to keep the older girls in GS and to crush one girl's spirit like this is not only heartless, but uncalled for. Paypal is cash, morons.

  27. says

    Door to door? They made us do that 100 years ago when I was a Girl Scout. I have only ever seen parents doing the selling ever since. The only lesson they learn now is you get more free stuff if your parents have a lot of coworkers.

    If the 'issue' is Emma winning a prize vs someone else's child – take her donations out of the competition run & just count the rest. (I won the prizes back in the day, it was not so exciting as you think)

    I'd be happy to join Emma in a donation of Oreos to the troops! (she can have my old cookie badges too)

  28. says

    I didn't read all the comments, so forgive if this is repeated: You absolutely can track payments via PayPal; just run a detailed report! I do this for my online business every month! The only issue I see is who pays the fee for CC processing that PayPal charges? (it's nominal) Cudos to the innovative family who saw a problem and found a solution. Particularly since neighborhoods like mine have a nice little sign at the entrance, in shouty caps, NO SOLICITING.

  29. davesoucy says

    “But girls cannot transact the sale (take payment) online. That must happen in person to build oh-so-important people skills.” Said @girlscouts on Twitter. Can't make this stuff up.

  30. Jackie says

    I was in Girl Scouts and now my 6 year old daughter is in her second year of Daisies. All this was is the troop leader/mom (whoever complained) was mad that her daughter was going to be outsold. Sad. Still some of the money from all the boxes sold would be going to the girls' troop so they can do more…they should be excited about that.

    This year we went beyond our town, even beyond our state and sold cookies (of course with my help) but we also walked the neighborhood and sold to neighbors we knew and she got that experience as well as knowing we were doing things online to sell them. Her goal was to get an incentive prize and my goal was to help her so the troop could get much needed money.

    It's not a competition of who sells more, it's just to do your best.

  31. says

    I agree that it appears the situation was handled poorly by the troop, council and national org alike. And I was sad to see the public responses by GSUSA via Twitter to Emma – I felt those were inappropriate in a public forum and they should have at a minimum emailed her directly and privately about the situation. That said, any organization of this size is far from perfect and I hate to see folks discredit the entire organization and the positive experiences of thousands of girls because of some bad apples. There are some fabulous troop leaders out there and *they*, not the councils or the National org are what make the experience great for girls. Those unhappy with the way it was handled should get more involved in the local & regional level in GS and work to push through the changes they need. It's obvious they need some education and rethinking about how the real world of the 21st century works. People skills are indeed important, but in person isn't the only way to develop them.

  32. says

    I'm the mother of a Girl Scout who is selling cookies for her fourth year – to neighbors, friends & family, through booths at local retail establishments, and yes, I make them available at my office where strict solicitation policies prevent her from coming to actively sell in person.

    I'm not going to say the whole process is perfect. I often joke that the mafia could probably learn a thing or two from Girl Scouts when it comes to controlling territory as tightly as booth locations are managed, but I feel compelled to address a couple of points in the organization's defense.

    I know it was with the most honorable intentions that this girl took to leveraging online payments, but we are all told up front that it isn't the way this program works. That doesn't mean transactions can't happen electronically – our Council makes credit card transactions possible through our smartphones with free "swipers." At booths we've staffed this year it has been a great way to make a sale to many who, like myself, don't often carry cash.

    Girl Scouts are encouraged to leverage digital media to spread the word about their cookie sales. This could be emails or social media, and the larger organization has created fun videos for sharing. So, they're not living in the dark ages and ignoring the power of online tools. There's even an app (for both iOS and Android) to help you locate a cookie booth near you.

    Although Girl Scouts of the USA does not currently allow online sales, they tell us they are researching how to make it possible for girls to do it. One hundred year old organizations don't change quickly, and individual members can always do things that do not reflect the proper spirit, but I think the larger Girl Scout organization is moving in the right direction toward modernizing the cookie sales.

    I'd ask those flaming them to have patience and not let parents who become too personally involved in winning awards for their children bring down the whole organization.

  33. says

    There is so many problems with this situation- from ignoring the impact of social media skills, to having a confusing brand message. I was just looking over the GS website and they do say you can market online, but no selling online. You may be wondering why– here's the only reason I can think of– competition. If a scout is savvy enough (you know, using the skills she's learned from scouts) to create enough social media buzz, her sales in theory could go through the roof if she accepts forms of online payment. From Grandma or Uncle Bob 2 states away, to someone coming across the message and wanting to help. The problem comes when it takes the sale away from the local troops. A smart enough scout in Indiana could in theory take sales that would have gone to local troops in say Florida. My money is that this is what they were thinking when they were against online sales. Time to get a different perspective here. Online and social are the way to go- and as we become less and less a cash society, acceptance of alternative methods of payment need to occur. I'd MUCH rather whip my phone out at a cookie table, paypal the troop, let them accept the payment and take my cookies rather than have 2 adults and a couple of girls sit with a lot of cash. Or checks that bounce. Even using Near Field to pay- or a Square account!

    • Franz says

      The way GS represent this is as if it was the girl's own business and as such, it's all about marketing. So there is no problem. They do not say that the girls can't go to another state and sell, they simply do not allow it online.

      At the same time, they are looking into how to make online sales possible.

      In my opinion, they are talking from both ends.

  34. lorilewis says

    There is so much wrong with this that I'm speechless. Besides the fact that Emma was selling online, as well as, selling door to door (for those "people skills," there's a misconception that communicating via social platforms is NOT a learned skill?
    I work with some of the best radio stations on the planet and we work on how to speak differently in this permission based space as opposed to on the air – where we can kind of get away with pushing messages out.
    There is a skill to speaking online and socially and for the Girl Scouts to not understand that lacks sophistication. I will be tweeting Oreo, too. Thank you for sharing this Robert.

  35. Bronacos says

    I don't think I've ever purchased Girl Scout cookies from an actual Girl Scout! Even when I knew a few girls who were scouts, it was always their mothers who sold the cookies. So much for treaching the girls people skills. What a load of BS! I love the idea of supporting Emma's initative with another cookie vendor!

  36. Hmmm says

    Are you people serious? You want me to let my 5-, 6-, -7-, 8-, 9-, 10-, 11-, 12-year old daughter to use social media instead of walking around our neighborhood, with me at a safe distance, to sell cookies? Oh, I guess it's OK because she used it in addition to door-to-door sales, which, by the way, actually are helpful for a girl's confidence-building.
    Your perspective is warped by your addiction to Facebook and inability to create face-to-face experiences.
    The rules are clear; the girl broke the rules. Girl Scout pledge, first part: "I will do my best to be honest and fair …"

    • bundlepost says

      Is it honest and fair to post this kind of emotionally charged attack and put a FAKE name? How honest and fair is that? #GREATExample scout mom. Did you tell you eight children you came on here and lied about your name?

      • Mac, my real name says

        Ow! Someone is reacting poorly to an honest post. You, Sir bundlepost, are out of line by insulting "Hmmmm" with personal attacks. Talk about emotionally charged!!!!! And suggesting she has 8 kids means what exactly?? That you are somehow superior to her? You are not.
        The GSUSA is great organization. Not perfect, but changes are coming. All this nonsense from Robert is a whiny, need-to-complain-about-something-so people-will-read -my-BS, completely ONE SIDED "article". Did Robert speak to the GSUSA? Did he speak to the Troop Leader to confirm the allegations made about her? To the Council VP who allegedly said these rude things??? No, I thought not. Typical pot stirring, witless blogging. And all of you readers never question it. FOX News Ditto heads, the lot of you.
        The kid was doing a nice thing, and she went outside the current rules of the GSUSA. It's not a crime, it's not shocking, and its not even worth mentioning outside the maybe 10 people involved. Get over yourselves all you people who can complain about life's unfairness from the safety of your homes. How about one of YOU become a Troop Leader and spend the time to teach leadership? Or just be a speaker at a GS meeting. Offer your time. Any Takers? Bundlepost?

        • says

          When an entire community realizes that something needs to change, that is when a response is needed. For far too long people have pushed aside issues, thinking they're not "even worth mentioning outside the maybe 10 people involved."
          Just because things have been done a certain way for years doesn't mean they're still the right way or that change isn't necessary. It's a digital world and students like Emma, who are trying to make a difference in this digital world by engaging it, are being stifled by archaic ideas.
          If someone at GS would reach out to any one of our community to teach new online social skills or how to use social media effectively, I'm sure there would be plenty of takers. Here is the issue; we wouldn't need to blog, create our own community, try to share a new message if things were changing. If new ideas were being readily accepted by everyone, SteamFeed and many other communities like it wouldn't be necessary. But it is.
          There are plenty of people who would jump at the chance to share our social media and social good experience to help change things.

  37. Tom says

    I do not know much about girl scouts, but I do have 2 young daughters. There are a few girl scouts in our neighborhood.
    My wife and I refuse to allow them to join, because, at least where I am, selling cookies is all they do. And after following some of these links, and looking at the various badges, and info on the organization itself, it seems that all they are doing is training little girls to sell cookies for them, and make the company money.
    I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice to say, I bought 8 boxes this year. Most will be given away, I just do it to support the girls. I will not cancel my orders, but going forward I will never purchase a box of girl scout cookies from a girl scout again. I will not support this org.
    And I will not miss out on tasting them, Keebler sells them themselves. And cheaper. if I want some, I'll get 'em from the store. Same thing anyway, they ARE a manufacturer for Girl Scouts….

    I will, however, make a nice donation to Emma's cause.

    Way to go, Emma. I hope my girls are as smart, and show as much initiative, as you when they reach your age.

    Thanks for being you!

  38. Tom says

    @ Hmmm
    YOU may be at a safe distance, but from a lot of what i've seen over the past 30 years, MOST girls go door to door on their own.
    Honestly, there's a lot of parents out there who couldn't be bothered to help their children.

    To put your comment in perspective – You want me to let my 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 year old daughter, out alone into the world, visiting unknown strangers doorsteps, interacting with people of unknown character or criminal history, inches from possible abduction into their home, to perform financial transactions 90% thereof benefiting the org itself, and only a miniscule amount for the troops?

    Seriously? You need to think thinks over a bit….
    Just a sampling:

  39. Mac, my real name says

    Dark episode? Shocking behavior? Archaic regulations? GMC in cookies?

    Wow. You folks are making a mountain out of an ant hill (it's not even a mole hill). The "article" presents one side of this story and much of that is hearsay, but most of you commenters take it all as gospel. Can you say "muckraker"?

    The GSUSA is not perfect, and changes will be coming under its new CEO (and btw, GSUSA is not a "company" but a non profit org. and the monies raised go back to the local councils). But my goodness, you folks seem very threatened by something might barely suggest the internet is not the end-all and be-all. The GS organization is 100 years old. Give the folks in charge some credit that maybe, just maybe, they know a thing or two that you don't about how to run the organization. If you need to bash a group, well, look to the Boy Scouts with their anti gay agenda. You'll never find that sort of nonsense in the GS organization.

    So Emma, nice job with your plans. Sorry the GS hasn't caught up yet to Paypal. It's coming. And Robert, please, next time why not report evenly and actually TALK to the people who allegedly said/did these things you print. You know, like journalists do?? For instance, was the call from Emma's mom to the VP recorded? If not, you can't "quote" what you didn't hear in person so you don't know if that VP said exactly that or not. Then you are paraphrasing instead, so no quotations marks required or allowed, ok??
    And all you readers and commenters, how about thinking things through a little and not jump on every bandwagon that tries to slime someone or something. Don't we have enough problems without creating largely ill informed new ones?

    Pssssst. . . . . Oreos??? I think they have GMC too. Don't tell anyone though.

  40. says

    What some people are not grasping, and I understand because I did not know until I started researching this week, is that cookies are big business for the Girl Scouts. The MAJORITY of their budget goes to funding their own bureaucracy. I saw that they are a $790 million cookie business with the sale force being made up of child volunteers. I also went online and looked up the financial filings for several of the local councils on Our local council has two top executives, the CFO and the CEO. The CFO is paid @ 75,000 a year and the CEO $120,000! When you take a $4 box of cookies, subtract the cost to make them (.96) and the small amount that actually goes to the girls, you are left with 2.40 per box going to pay salaries, marketing, etc., fund the beast, if you will. Do the math. Our local girls have to sell 80,000 boxes just to pay the salaries of the two local executives. Multiply that by 100+ councils nationwide AND the national organization staff. So, this "girl-led" organization could teach a few 3rd world countries about child labor.

  41. jackie says

    Love the GS reply that they must take payment in person to build "oh-so important people skills". Does that mean the GS will ban parents selling, collecting, and delivering the cookies to co-workers?

    In all my years of supporting my co-workers daughters by buying cookies (that I didn't want, at inflated prices), I never saw the scout. Ban that sales venue too (please!!!) and watch sales/profits drop.

    Just wondering if the jealous mom's little scout is selling on her own or with help from mommy and daddy and other relatives hawking the cookies where they work and play… just say'n…

  42. Franz says

    It seems to me that based on what is written about GSUSA in… that they are going against their own guideline by not permitting online sales.

    With everything that I read there, there is no excuse for them to merely be in a research stage regarding selling online. Since I was not able to access the full report without paying $129 dollars, I saw enough to raise several red flags. They sound like a highly advanced group and they have rules that make them sound extremely backwards.

    Surely, with their 90 million dollar revenue, they could spend a few dollars to set up a safe system to sell online. There are many experts out there that would be happy to do it, myself included. However, since I now know how much they pull in each year and how they wish to teach their girls how to be business women, there is no way that I would rob them from this lesson by doing it for free!

    The one thing that shocks me is that GSUSA has not posted here. This tells me that they are not the "Leaders" that they make themselves out to be! Real leaders are on the cutting edge, they are front runners, pioneers.

    Their just "researching online sales" and their lack "Brand Awareness" tells me that they are very slow followers at best. They are way behind the times. Is this the business lessons that they teach their girls?

    The sad truth is that their current sales method is not very effective and it is a very poor use of resources. Perhaps if the leader of this group would humble themselves long enough to learn from this 11-year-old, they may learn something that speaks of "Business" in this age. Is this the best way, perhaps not, but it is still much better than going door-to-door or going to a small handful of businesses.

    The best part of selling online is that it can be the safest way of selling. Even more so if GSUSA was to support it instead of avoiding it!

  43. Elana Winfrey says

    As a Girl Scout Alumni (1st—12th grade), let me first say, that I love and support GS, and the building of girls’ character.

    I hope that GS re-evaluates the method of transacting business—it’s 2013. I have not been able to purchase cookies from Troops standing outside of grocery stores for several years. Why? i use a debit card 99.9% of the time. I have asked the Leaders standing with the girls if they could use Square or a PayPal card swipe. The response both times was no; with admissions both times that many people don’t buy for the same reason as me—-most don’t use checks and don’t carry cash anymore. A huge loss for the girls in my opinion. Also a huge loss in what GS is teaching. All businesses, as of about 2008, use eCommerce for sales transactions. So the entrepreneurship badge is waaaaay behind current business models, in regard to the teachings. Social media and eCommerce are growing and going string. If a child runs a lemonade stand, they will struggle if not able to accept debit/cards on the spot. Get Square or PayPal reader, make more sales. Call it a day. It’s now standard practice.

    Oh—got my case of Samoas. Since we use our debit card and Bill Pay, and haven’t ordered checks in years, had to run to the ATM to get cash—HUGE inconvenience. Cookies are gooooood though! [[nom-nom-nom-nom]]

  44. Julie says

    What lesson are you teaching your daughter by going against the guidelines and directive of the organization she is a member of? Rules are rules…..

  45. Sarah says

    Just so everyone knows also, in the Fall we participate in Nut Sales for our troop. Guess what? You can generate a link for each individual girl where they can sell the Nuts ONLINE. So how is this any different??

  46. Lee K. says

    Definitely it is to keep the sale local and definitely, social skills are important. We are becoming a country of Wall-e people. She should hoof it, like the rest of the girls!


  1. […] was originally brought to my attention via a blog post written by Robert M. Caruso on Steam Feed.  Robert had mentioned a great idea that @Oreo should take the opportunity here to do some Social […]

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