Girl Scout Cookies in the Digital Era
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Computer science has long been a male-dominated field, but the Girl Scouts of the USA has plans to change that. CEO Sylvia Acevedo announced that the Girl Scouts will be unveiling a new program that introduces young women to concepts in computer science and entrepreneurship. “Our girls will be learning via practical experience and group exercises. Here at Girl Scouts of the USA, we value teamwork and collaboration, so troops will be functioning as their own mini startups, with consultants to guide them through the more technical aspects, while at the same time learning through practical experience and group exercises,” Acevedo said at a press conference.
But what is this new initiative anyway? Similar to the tried and true Girl Scouts method, this new program is centered around cookies (but not your classic Samoas or Thin Mints). Instead, the Girl Scouts will be selling our cookies. “Flavors” vary from the classic Neapolitan, a consumer demographics package, to Where Are They Now, providing real-time location service data. The program will pair each troop with representatives from some of the nation’s leaders in data harvesting. Mentors from companies such as Facebook, Snap Inc., and Twitter will be guiding troops through app development, maximizing engagement, and seeking buyers. The mentors will give lessons but will not be directly involved in planning and development. “We want to make sure that the girls are involved in every step of the way. We’ll offer guidance when necessary, but these girls are tenacious, and we want to give them the space they need to thrive,” Acevedo told us, explaining the hands-off approach.
Though data harvesting is currently one of the most profitable markets in the world, the Girl Scouts will be seeing none of the profits. Instead, there will be a tiered rewards system. Troops that make a minimum of $10,000 will be rewarded with a five-pound chocolate bar, and those that make $50,000 will receive a big Toblerone. After reaching the $100,000 mark, members of the troop will receive more substantial prizes, like a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Acevedo stressed that the lessons the program instills are “invaluable,” but children often need “incentives” to get work done. “We don’t want the girls to grow up believing that money is important, and that’s why we make sure to never reward them with actual legal tender.”
We interviewed a few of the Girl Scouts who participated in the trial run of this program, and here’s what they had to say:
“I used to accept the terms and conditions on any site that I used, but when we made our ‘Which Pony Are You’ quiz, we were able to track any stuff users searched, and a lot of it was a version of ‘My Little Pony’ that I’d never seen before.” —Sophie, age 8, Nevada
“I think it’s really really really cool that we get to do this because last Girl Scouts camping trip, they let us stay up 36 hours straight in order to finish updating our site, and my mom never lets me drink coffee, so this was really really really fun!” —Jack (Jacqueline), age 11, Kansas
“We say that it’s anonymous, but it really isn’t. I got my dad to use the app, and now I know what I’m getting for Christmas.” —Rachel, age 9, North Dakota
“My troop actually sold to some overseas buyers, and they had child representatives just like us! It was really exciting, but their uniforms were a lot drabber than ours.” —Penelope, age 13, Connecticut
The new program is set for a full launch in late Q4 2020, though some states are slated for a 2021 release, just in time for the Girl Scout Cookie season. The launch will include data packages to be sold in bulk, but will not impede sales of physical cookies. However, discounts will be available if ordered on the scout-built website, cookiesforcookies.com.