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scouting

About a year and a half ago I asked Zuzu if she would like to be a Girl Scout. There was an informational meeting scheduled for that weekend.

“Yeah!!! Let’s be Girl Scouts!!! Let’s beat those Boy Scouts!!!”

Um, no. Not the point of Girl Scouts, and in fact a very good reason to become a Girl Scout. So we put our name in the hat and waited. And waited. And finally we got the good word- we had a troop and even better the new troop leader goes to the same daycare/preschool we use and could take Zuzu with her to the meetings, which were scheduled during my work hours and the Quail’s weekly occupational and physical therapy. Really, it couldn’t have been better planned. Zuzu has been known to come home all mopey on Mondays because her sister gets picked up from after-school care and she doesn’t get to play with her. And this group of girls, or at least those signed up for it, are some of our favorite little buddies in our community.

Zuzu in all her fervor and excitement then proceeded to go invite a series of other little buddies to join, and a number of them did. All told there are about a dozen newly designated sunny little Daisy Scouts in our town. From the moment Zuzu got word that her troop was forming and that Ms. Debbie was going to be the leader, she started seeking her out with questions:

“Ms. Debbie- will we sell cookies?”

“Ms. Debbie- how much will the cookies cost?”

“Ms. Debbie- if they cost $3.50 how about we charge $5 so we can make more money!”

“Ms. Debbie- I gave the other little girls homework so we would be ready for the meeting.”

And so on and so forth. One day when I picked her up she told me she wasn’t ready to go home yet because she was making notebooks and buttons for each of her fellow Daisy Scouts. And sure enough- stuffed in her backpack were bits of torn and stapled cut up papers and markered circles with the names of her friends.

This girl was born to be a leader. When she was young we had her in dance class. Our little daycare/private school took her each Wednesday. She enjoyed it, but didn’t really seem to burst with the enthusiasm she was known for. By the third year of class though her teacher recommended we move her to a new group because she was essentially using her as a little dance assistant by that time in order to get all the kids to their spots. Unfortunately , as a dual-working-out-of-the-house set of parents that wasn’t going to work for us.

So we moved on to gymnastics. It was ok, she is spritely, but with her class there was a LOT of waiting her turn, something that isn’t easy for her high-energy-self. When she was moved into an intermediate class there, she found herself in amongst girls quite a bit older and bigger and our brave girl started to quake. And then to complain. And then to ask to not go. We finished up the session and then told her she didn’t have to sign back up if she didn’t want to. She decided it “might be good to take a little break.”

So for a year we didn’t really have any extra-curricular, until Daisy Scouts was ready for us. The very first night of class we walked in both a little anxious. Zuzu- she’s not like the other girls. She doesn’t sit quietly reading and coloring. She whooshes. She zooms. She full-out runs. And chatters. And asks questions. And directs traffic. I had spent the morning reminding myself that scouting is about building confidence and leadership in young girls, two traits that Zuzu already had in abundance. And this was not about my micro-managing-helicoptoring her. Which would be hard for me, what with my preference towards social niceties. Well when we walked in the room we were greated by a tribe of chattering girls. All full of colorful enthusiasm and energy. Zuzu was not the most boisterous by a long stretch- these were her people.

For the next few weeks she came home bursting with the Girl Scout law and the characteristics and values it was teaching her- sharing, helpfulness, honesty, fairness. She loved the explanations and the little embroidered daisy petal patches that she was growing on her small deep blue vest.

We started our troop partway through the school year and so we got off to a bit of a late start in the age-old tradition of Girl Scout Cookie sales. We were told that in spite of this, the starting goal for each girl would be to sell 100 boxes. We would have one cookie booth that we could take part in to meet that goal, and otherwise we were to attempt individual sales. I have to say- this is the part of scouting that I have been least interested in. I don’t like going and asking someone to buy something or to donate something. Of course, the goal wasn’t for me to sell 100 boxes (even though when Zuzu joined I proudly paid my own dues and renewed my childhood membership to the Girl Scouts of America), it was for her to. But nowadays- people don’t really go door-to-door. At least not when you don’t know most of your neighbors. Our first attempt at sales was the first cookie booth. Zuzu was so excited the morning leading up to it. On her own initiative she made 3 different signs letting people know when and where she would be selling cookies and begged us to walk her around the neighborhood hanging her sign. I went ahead a snapped a picture and put it on Facebook. And lo and behold….people bought cookies! Next she decided to make a “commericial” to sell her cookies- so I put it up on Facebook and again- people bought cookies!

That afternoon we joined two of her troop-mates outside of our resident Lowe’s and the spirited little girls accosted, I mean asked passers-by to buy their cookies. The girls had lots to learn in this experience about customer service, money management, and being careful with the cookies. I was only at the table for 45 minutes, but I was beat by the time we headed home. That day we sold enough boxes and each girl got credit for 11. The next day she started calling our relatives. Unfortunately most of them don’t live near by. One thing the Girl Scouts do though is participate in a “Cookie Share”. When people pay for cookies,  instead of getting the cookies- the cookies are then wrapped up and shipped to soldiers overseas. This seemed like a wonderful opportunity to do service for those doing service for us. We managed to sell 29 of these donations.

The next week we talked during school drop-off and pick-up about people that she knows that might like to buy, her friends, her teachers, her after-school care staff, previous teachers. Each morning she would tell me no- that she was too shy to ask, and then 3-4 afternoons a week she would surprise me with a new order. A few were pipe-dream orders- little friends with cookies in their eyes. I was careful to check with their parents before placing the orders. Then on the last night to sell cookies Zuzu realized she hadn’t called her Nana and Bapa about cookie sales yet and they were coming to visit soon. So she called and sure enough they bought. When she went back to write down their orders she realized she was only 4 boxes short of her goal and went back to proudly tell them. They of course, being sweet grandparents, happily bought 4 more boxes for the soldiers and Zuzu met her goal!

I hadn’t asked anyone at my work directly to buy cookies. Lovey hadn’t either, we shared her commercial and talked about her efforts on Facebook and during the last few days of the sale I reminded her that if she wanted I would happily hang a sign-up sheet at work to buy cookies. She made it. I hung it. We got more cookie orders. A number of folks commented that when the child asks, they will donate. I’m glad she worked so hard on this in her own way. She sold in total 115 boxes in three weeks.

I’m so proud of her work, her attention to detail and her enthusiasm for the Girl Scouts. She seems to have found her calling.

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