Thursday, March 12, 2009

Teaching entrepreneurship to little girls...

...but not, you know, the bad kind of competitive entrepreneurship. Just the good zero-sum kind.
Considering that the national Girl Scout Cookie Program bills itself as the largest program to teach entrepreneurship to young girls, this e-commerce strategy seems especially savvy. But some families in the community felt threatened by the Freeborn's unconventional efforts, likely because various prizes (including camp vouchers, stuffed animals and apparel) are given out by local councils to girls who sell a certain amount of boxes. "If you have an individual girl that creates a Web presence, she can suck the opportunity from other girls," says Matthew Markie, a parent who remains involved in Girl Scouts even though his three daughters are well into their 20s.

22 comments:

Crustyrusty said...

Matthew Markie, a parent who remains involved in Girl Scouts even though his three daughters are well into their 20s.

That worries me more than the cookie selling....

Tam said...

Yeah, that's a little creepy.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

"whine whine whine"

SO CREATE YOUR OWN ONLINE PRESENCE! My god, if it was any clearer to the moron it would smack him in the face. Actually, do that anyways.

Tam said...

You'd think that "knowing how to set up an online eCommerce site" would be a valuable entrepreneurial skill for kids to learn these days, no?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Girl Scouts wants them to be gun shoppe owners? This way the girls can sit around on stools and tell people no and then complain about how bad business is.

Shootin' Buddy

Jay G said...

Some folks fall in love with the Scouting program. Helping young people make the right decisions and learn valuable skills can be quite rewarding.

That said, once my son crosses over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, I'm leaving dust trails out of the program m'self... ;)

My experience with the Girl Scout cookies is pretty much that the girl with the highest-level mom or dad in the biggest company will almost always sell the most cookies...

Ken said...

Well, "perfect competition" (as used by economists) is just about semantically indistinguishable from no competition at all.

Anonymous said...

Scouting has a complex sociology. Old scouters often call it a Masonic lodge for the double-digit IQ. You don't get to be a scoutmaster (or a District firearms instructor) by leaving the program when your kid does.

Girl Scouting, many know, is a completely different organization than the BSA, and there is some definite "Victorian" weirdness involved with that history.

Having parents take orders at the office, or suffering the luck of having a business-connected relative give cookies as corporate gifts, never entered into cookie sales at all. Never. Wouldn't want to drag "internet presence" into that.

Anonymous said...

Haven't you people heard?
"Valuing individual accomplishment more than collective accomplishment is racist."
It's like having a "winner" in a contest; not allowed. The only "modern" (i.e. socialist) thing to do is divorce effort from result and give everyone the same reward, whether they sell cookies or not.

Nathan Brindle said...

"Old scouters often call it a Masonic lodge for the double-digit IQ."

Wow. What's your source for that? I'll have 30 years in this June myself (23 as an adult), and I know I've never called it that -- not before I became a Freemason, and certainly not since :) And neither have any of the other Scouters I've known for the last three decades. Probably because a large number of the Scouters I know are also Freemasons...

Jeff said...

Wow, good for her! I hope she cleans all their clocks.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, I'm a scouter. Let's not kid each other, all right? Summon up all your analytic skills and note that it's not about the Masons.

Scouters are no longer the cream of the crop. Sixty years ago this was not the case. I understand how this came to pass, and I sympathize; I have to contend with it too.

David said...

"That worries me more than the cookie selling...."

That attitude worries me more than you can imagine. I coach middle school girls volleyball, even though my daughters don't play anymore, I still coach. I get that "look" a lot from new parents who wonder why a guy my age spends so much of his free time around 10-14 year old girls.

I do it because I love to coach. I like coaching beginners because that is where you see the greatest improvement from year to year and where what you teach can have the longest lasting effect on a players athletic career. I coach girls for two reasons. 1) I was taught to play the game by girls and feel like I owe it to them to pass on what they taught me. 2) Boys between the ages of 10 and 18 just piss me off. I would probably end up killing them just for using the oxygen in the room.

Many people's assumptions that an older person who is involved with youth activites, even though they do not have a child involved is an enormous threat to me and others like me. Even an innocent implication that I do this for creepy or predatory reasons could cost me my coaching position, my job, my career, my family or even my freedom.

Sure there are predators out there and we have to watch out for them. But I have seen dozens of volunteer parent-coaches come and go throughout the years and most of them have two things in common - they are only involved in order to support their kid, and they usually don't have a clue what the hell they are doing. In many cases the kids would be better off without a coach. Just make a court available to them and let them self learn.

So until you have something more than a preconsceived, unsubstantiated, unproven bias to go on, keep you snarky remarks to yourself. This is one instance where an innocent question or a snarky comment can ruin a well-meaning individuals life.

staghounds said...

Falling in love WITH the scouting program, I see.

Falling in love AT the scouting program...

No, wait. A scout's mother is probably, what, 35, 40? Hmm...

I probably have been doing this too long, but I did notice kis rather odd word choice.

True, almost every scout leader is NOT a pervert.

But almost every young Saudi is NOT one of the magnificent 19. A spectacularly enough rotten apple can spoil many a barrel.

But even so, why are people surprised when someone who looks for something places himself where the thing is?

Submit word curslidge- that area near enough to a religious person's house that you have to watch your language.

Anonymous said...

David, feel your pain. I used to give a check to Big Brothers and then they solicited me to apply as a Big Brother.

Being an uncle of five, I thought I would do a great job. I quickly found out that unmarried males need not apply.

Big Brothers does not get my check anymore, but I sponsor kids' soccer and baseball. I get invited to the end of the season parties, but never go because I know I will get looks.

Shootin' Buddy

lucky-fool said...

You know what's weird? I'm an IT professional with a Brownie Girl Scout daughter and setting up a web store for cookies never even occurred to me. It just seems so disconnected from what selling cookies is.

And while cookies get sold at my office I'm not the one who does it, and I never will be. My daughter comes up in her vest and beanie and goes around and sells them herself (yes, I have a fairly permissive office). She sells ten times as many boxes as I'd be able to anyway. Something about a little girl in a brown beanie just brings out the cookie monster in everybody, I guess.

CastoCreations said...

David...you are not alone in that 'weirdness' look and it's very sad in our society. I admit to my thoughts automatically turning to "question" an older man working with young girls or boys if their kids aren't involved. And then I have to consciously chastise myself. Society has drilled it into our heads that men are predators...I remember the lessons from my college classes not that long ago. It's sick.

As for girl scouts...if I have a girl and she wants to she can join and sell. My mom never let me go door to door to sell so I never won any prizes. But I didn't really care that much.

The fear of competition is more harmful than any 'sorrow' a kid will feel for not selling the most cookies.

Michael said...

My kid is a daisy and we walked around the hood to sell cookies, and had a rather good time bonding and all that. We did not sell the most boxes and you know what? My kid so did not care. It's been my observation that often the parents are more concerned about their kid's achievements, than the kid.

Tam said...

"David...you are not alone in that 'weirdness' look and it's very sad in our society. I admit to my thoughts automatically turning to "question" an older man working with young girls or boys if their kids aren't involved. And then I have to consciously chastise myself. Society has drilled it into our heads that men are predators...I remember the lessons from my college classes not that long ago. It's sick."

I know. I've been berating myself for kneejerking already.

David said...

Don't berate yourself. If your first instinct is there is something wrong then watch, look, listen, pay attention. Just don't open your mouth and start trouble where there may not be any.

But if you see actual evidence of something wrong, then act.

I had a young girl start my program last year. The first practice her mother asked if she could stay during practices. I told her sure, have a seat and keep your eyes open so you don't get whacked with a volleyball. I like parents who stick around and stay involved. If you're willing I'll even put you to work shagging balls. She sat around all season watching.

This year she is my travel coordinator for the team and is thinking about letting me start teaching her how to coach beginners.

She embarrassingly fessed up this year that she stuck around all last year because she didn't trust me, regardless of what everyone she asked about me, said.

She blushed when I told her that what she did was a good thing. Anyone who just blindly drops their kid off without making sure of their adult leaders first needs their heads examined. You just never know. Being an older man working with younger girls doesn't make me a predator just as being a Mom coaching her kid's team doesn't mean you aren't a battle-ax who will push, shove or scream at a kid until they cry.

Yeah, I hate that I am automatically distrusted until I prove myself. But that is the nature of the world we live in. Its ok to be suspicious and nervous, just don't automatically jump to conclusions based on old prejudices. Investigate for yourself first.

Mikee said...

Here's the thing about the Girl Scouts and their cookies: The cookies are good, albeit just slightly overpriced, and a delightful source of instant gratification when I am surprised at the door by a cookie selling kid. However, the Scouts get a pitifully small amount of cash for each box sold, compared with the cookie company. I'd almost rather give the little girl a dollar or two for her troup, than to buy her cookies, along with an explanation about exploitation of child labor. Except that I get to eat the cookies and the economy lesson tastes flat.

Now the Cubbies are selling, too. They sell popcorn. Every time I see one of these desperate young fellows with a table set up outside a store entrance, I just feel sad for them. First, they aren't selling at nearly the rate as the Girl scouts sell cookies, because IT IS POPCORN, not cookies, they are selling. Who the heck conned these otherwise enterprising young folks (or more likely, their adult supervisors) into selling something so lame?

Enough. I will eat one box of thin mints a year, and suffer in hell after I die.

Larry said...

I always just make a donation instead of buying the cookies. They get more money that way.