Monday, January 18, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie Skill - Money Management

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the foremost entrepreneurial and financial literacy training program in the world. Through Cookies girls can learn and earn; they build skills and they learn how to pay the bills.  Through hands on experience earning money, they begin to learn how money works in the real world.  Girls use basic math skills and they learn to set goals, develop a plan and reap the rewards of their hard work …
The Girl Scout Cookie Program offers girls some very pragmatic skills in Money Management.
Once girls get to work taking Cookie orders, they use their skills in math to add up the amounts that each customer will need to pay.  Troop Leaders and parents can help girls practice this. When girls deliver the Cookies to their customers they will also need to know how to make change. For some girls, the Cookie program may be their first experience in handling money. Troop Leaders and parents once again have the opportunity to support the girls as they practice this skill. And a calculator will be a welcome tool!
Beyond the basics of adding up the cost of the orders and making change, girls begin to develop insights into the bigger picture of how money works for them. When they have been involved in Goal Setting and Decision Making they learn how the money that they earn goes to pay for the things that they want to do. Making this connection between work and money is a key skill for girls – and for all of us as we go through life. Too many of us know people who have problems managing money as adults. And this recent economic downturn has demonstrated all too clearly that money management is a skill needed by individuals, businesses and even entire countries!
Here are some key questions that girls/parents/Troops should be asking and learning as they earn in the Girl Scout Cookie Program:
  • How much money does my Troop need to reach our goal?
  • How much of that goal can I help my Troop to earn?
  • If my Troop did not decide to forego the awards (in lieu of a higher rebate to the Troop), what are the awards that I want to set as my goal?  How many boxes of Cookies will I need to sell to earn that award?
  • If I need to sell 100 boxes to reach my goal, how many people will I need to ask to support my Troop and me?  -- If each customer buys 5 boxes, you will need to ask 20 people. But if each customer buys two boxes, you will need to ask 50 people.
  • What will I do when I reach my goal?  Celebrate?  Re-calculate and set a higher goal?  Help my friends to reach their goals?
By answering these questions, your Girl Scout will be on her way to becoming a expert in Money Management. Wow! Who knew a Cookie could do so much!
Next time we will talk about how the Girl Scout Cookie Program helps girls develop their skills in dealing with people...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Six feet and 1/8 of an inch! A new world record!

Girl Scouts of Nassau County set a new record for the tallest free-standing tower made entirely of Girl Scout Cookies ... Six feet, 1/8 of an inch, completed about 11:20 p.m. on Saturday, January 9, 2010. A good time was had by all!

And as much fun as it is to break new records, the real advantages of the project were the teamwork, patience and perseverance that the girls displayed ... Over 100 girls participated in planning the design and implementation of the project and then came out to work in shifts.  

They learned how mathematic principles can be applied to problem solving and they had the opportunity to work up-close and personal with Rebecca Goldberg, a professional engineer, who shared her love of her profession with all of them. More than a few of those girls have already expressed their interest in learning and exploring more avenues related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).  
Rebecca and Anita Konfederak of Merritt Engineering with Girl Scouts

Rebecca is one of the most patient and hardworking people with whom I have ever spent a day.  She was there the ENTIRE day, from about 8:30 a.m. through close, and took only momentary breaks, working diligently with each team of girls as they rotated through the schedule.  Her coaching, guidance and patience with the girls was immeasurable ... But what impressed me even more than her skill with the girls, was her ability to finesse all the "side-walk" superintendents who tried to tell her how to do the job ...  Rebecca is tremendous role model for all of us!
Donald DeKinipp, Professional Land Surveyor

I also want to thank Merritt Engineering Consultants PC for being our event sponsor and to our numerous witnesses including Town of Oyster Bay Councilman, Anthony D. Macagnone, Nassau County Legislators Judi Jacobs, Rose Walker, Norma Gonsalves, Dave Denenberg, Well Jones, CEO, Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Dan Murray of KJOY’s promotions team and GSNC Board Members Ruth Bigman, Anthony Edelman, Diane McFarlane, Diane White and GSNC Volunteer Debra Leraci and our final witness Donald Dekenipp, PLS, our surveyor. 

We’ll have pictures and video on the GSNC website soon, and there are already quite a few posted on the GSNC fan page on Facebook.

Budget Brilliantly

Once girls decide which project to pursue, they have to set a budget.  A budget is a way to determine how much something costs, and write it down. The younger the girls, the more they will need adults to help at this point. Older girls planning a trip can do much research on their own. They can look online or call a travel agent. They can go to the grocery store and price the cost of food. If they agree on a service project, they will need to figure out the steps, determine what supplies are needed, if advertising will be used or if it will be necessary to travel from one place to another.  Here, there may be lots of steps, and more opportunities for decision making along the way.  
Once the budget is set, the girls can then determine how many boxes of Cookies they will need to sell in order to reach their budget and achieve their goal.  
Girls will want to share with the parents the goal that the Troop has set, as well as the funds that will be needed to reach the goal.  
The girls might determine that each girl will be responsible for a minimum number of boxes – 100 boxes per girl. Or the girls could decide that each girl will set her goal to meet a proportion of the goal equal to each of the other girls in the Troop.  Some girls have proven track records as “big sellers.”  These girls may agree to strive to reach a greater share of the budget. Again, parental support is essential to reaching goals!
Troops also have the option of earning incentives based on the number of boxes of Cookies that are sold, or the Troop may decide to forego the prize incentives and take an extra rebate of $.05 per box. This requires a formal vote of all the girls in the Troop who plan to sell Cookies, with a 2/3 majority voting to take the extra money. Another way to make extra money is for girls to set a goal in Cookie Club of at least 100 boxes, and if the troop averages 100 boxes per girl, the troop will receive an extra $.02 per box.
For Troops that choose to take the prize incentives, individual girls may set their personal goals toward the various prize levels. These decisions should be worked on together with parents so that goals are reasonable and responsible. The back page of the GS Cookie® order form shows the prizes, patches and the number of corresponding boxes of Cookies®.  Girls should share the information on the order card with their families.
And that’s the process, set goals, make decisions and plan a budget! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Decisions - Decisions - Decisions!

Sometimes when setting goals for the year, Troops will not be in agreement. Then girls need to decide how they will make a decision.
Girls can put all the ‘doable’ ideas forward and take a vote. This democratic process gives everyone an equal voice.  Before voting, girls might be given the opportunity to say why they do or do not like one idea vs. another. The group may have to keep narrowing down the list of ideas until there are only two left, and then the vote of the majority – half plus 1 – will be the idea selected. In this scenario there can be a sense of winners and losers and everyone has to agree to support the final outcome.
Another way to make a decision when there is not agreement is to work toward a consensus. This way is sometimes harder, but for some groups it works best.  This method involves more talking and sharing. It is a form of compromise. Everybody agrees at the beginning to take an idea off the table even if only one person feels that she cannot support that idea. Then they have to go back and continue to talk and share until the group can agree upon one single idea or project that everyone can work toward. There can be times when an agreement cannot be made by consensus, and then a vote will become necessary. In Girl Scouting, voting is the process most often used to make decisions.
There are lots of steps in decision making with a group of people. Making decisions can provide challenges and real opportunities to girls – and adults – to grow and learn more about themselves and others.  In fact, group decision making is even one of the skills that girls use as they improve their “people” skills.
The tactics used in making group decisions, can also be whittled down to use when making individual decisions.  Sometimes you just make a decision in your head, other times you can make lists of great ideas, write down the “pros and cons” of each idea and proceed.
Girl Scouts are fortunate to have the Girl Scout Promise and Law to use in making decisions. It provides the standard by which we live our lives.  And when we measure our decisions against those standards, it is easier to make decisions that will be good decisions, that add to our health and happiness and that will make the world a better place.
Next we’ll talk about how to form a budget after a decision has been made!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Sky is the limit!

When Girl Scout Troops begin to set their goals for the Troop year, they usually sit in a circle, on the floor, around a table or spread around a room.  The first step is to share ideas, and this is often done in a process called “brainstorming.”  Girls can make a list of things they want to do together. And, the sky is the limit. (Girls can speak out, write down their ideas, or do both  -- Eventually someone needs to start writing the ideas on a big list!) Everyone should practice the Girl Scout Promise and Law while they are brainstorming by being respectful and kind and a sister to everyone in the group!
What kind of ideas could you hear?
  • Someone might want to learn how to do a special craft (knitting, painting, ceramics?).
  • Someone might suggest the group work towards going on a camping trip.
  • Girls can look in Possibilities for all kinds of Girl Scout activities.  
  • Girls might want to work toward going to see a play or attend a concert. 
  • Some Troops begin planning big TRIPS a couple of years in advance – (Did you know that Troops in Nassau have been to Europe, on Cruises, to the Girl Scout birthplace in Savannah and to Disney World?). 
  • Troops can also explore ways to serve their community – through contributing to a worthy cause and by donating their time and efforts to make their world a better place. 
Once everyone has had the opportunity to discuss what she would like to see the Troop do for the year, it is time to begin the process of narrowing down …
Some items on the list might be very easy to do or not cost much money.  Leaders and girls can work together to figure out dollar costs, time and effort needed to reach various goals. Not necessarily setting a budget (yet!), but getting a “rough idea” of what will be involved with every great idea in terms of dollars, time and commitment. Any and all ideas can be great – even silly, outrageous, or expensive ideas can be great ideas --  but not every idea is doable for a Girl Scout Troop.  I trust that girls and their Leaders will be able to figure out the “doable” ideas from the ones that just won’t work.
Sometimes an idea will easily rise to the top and all the girls will just agree that this is the project/service/trip they want to do. But sometimes there will not be agreement. Then girls need to decide how they will make a decision! (More to come in my next entry – stay tuned!).