Mmmboppin’ with Scott Hansen: You guys want some cookies?

Renee Rosenow

The month of November came and went in what seemed like a blink of an eye. And

although the Girl Scouts have been around since Juliette Low founded them in 1912, the organization and its famous cookies may be done away with just as quickly.

According to a Dec. 1 article, the Girl Scouts have seen their membership numbers drop by 250,000 over the past five years. Although 2.6 million members remain, the dwindling total continues to wreak havoc on the organization. And if that’s not enough, declining cookie sales, investment losses and a significant drop-off in donations have caused the national organization to lose money.

In response to this, a lot of things could have been done. Some better than others. And for the most part, the Girl Scouts took likely one of the worst approaches imaginable ,aside from just disbanding the group completely.

They started off with the right idea. The group began by hiring a management consultant and marketing team to help rescue them. A “core business strategy” to make its programs “more purposeful” was laid out. They also tried to make the Scouts known for other reasons than just cookies and camping. The executives began to describe their new approach as “outcomes-based” and wanted to build “pathways” and “gap teams” to save the “fading brand image” while developing a “market share.”

Part of that approach however involves reducing the number of local Girl Scout councils from 312 to 109 through mergers. In some cases, this resulted in the newly merged councils having more facilities than they needed. In one particular council, a rustic horse barn became an easy target to do away with when the council it merged with already had a state-of-the-art Scout Equestrian center two hours away.

In other similar cases, acres of camps are being “rested” for a year while final decisions are made about their fates. To some, “rested” is just a way of saying that the camps will be sold in order to raise money so the organization won’t continue to lose funds.

It’s understandable the Girl Scouts need to do something in order to stop the decrease in their numbers. As previously stated, hiring experienced and qualified outside executives was a good move. Those who run the organization likely are not experts on improving the image of something that for nearly its existence hasn’t needed a face lift. Reaching out and asking for help could very well have been the decision that put a halt to the deteriorating numbers.

But with where the executives went, and the Girl Scouts allowed them to go, it likely won’t help. Or at least not in the way the Girl Scouts want.

Mary Connell, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey, was quoted as saying “We have a saying – we’re operating at the speed of girls .These are 21st Century girls .They, at the very least, want to be near a cell phone tower.”

By decreasing the number of councils, and thus limiting the number of camps and land being used, this attitude by the 21st century girl is not being changed. As much as money is an issue for the Scouts and selling camps helps them in that department, they seem to think the attitude by potential members is one that needs to be accommodated to. But decreasing the number of camps and land being used will not change this attitude, which could potentially kill the Scouts just as much as a lack of money will.

The Girl Scout Promise says: On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times and to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Girl Scout Law then states: I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Decreasing the number of camps and land being used will not directly cause the importance of the promise and law to lose their significance. But over time, and as other moves are done to financially save the group, more of an emphasis will be placed on accommodating to what the potential members want.

By doing that, the essential goal of the organization, to promote their promise and law, will become insignificant. It may allow for their numbers to increase, but will also allow the number of 21st century girls – those who spend hours at the mall, on the Internet and texting – to increase too. If they become the group’s members, not only will it undergo a serious shift in what it stands for, but will likely succumb to what it initially set out to avoid – becoming unimportant.

Hansen is a junior print journalism major and editorial editor of The Spectator. “Mmmboppin’ with Scott Hansen” appears every Thursday.