Those with a sweet tooth in the Vermillion community are in luck.
The cookie sales by Junior Girl Scout Troop 179 are in full swing.
“We are selling this year from Feb. 1 to March 29,” said Keaton Daniels-Heggestad. “The money goes toward the fun things our troop wants to do together. So, we're going to go camping together this summer where we can go zipline-ing and horseback riding and stuff.”
Keaton, 9, is in her fourth year as a Girl Scout.
The troop currently is made up of nine 4th graders ages 9-10.
“The goals that we set for this year are to sell 313 boxes of cookies each,” Keaton said. “We decide what our goal will be by talking with our whole group about what we want to do for activities, deciding how much that will cost, and dividing it between each girl. We can also set our own goals, if we want to reach higher than that.”
The troop leader, Caitlin Collier, helps the girls set the goals.
“As the girls in the troop have gotten older, we have been doing activities during the summer,” Collier said. “We talk about options and they decide. Those choices drive their goals.”
Aurora Collier-Wise, 9, has been in Girl Scouts since kindergarten.
“I try to set a goal that I'm able to reach,” Aurora said. “What I've sold in the past isn't huge or anything. We have to be done by the end of March. The money goes towards the troop being able to do fun things like go camping or go to a water park.”
Cookie sales as well as Girl Scout functions in general are truly a family endeavor.
“I have been a Scout since second grade, so over 55 years,” Collier said. “I have been a leader for more decades than a girl member. I was a leader for both my daughters and now my granddaughter.”
Both Aurora and Keaton said family members, especially their mothers, have been a great help to them.
“My mom and my grandma both help me a lot,” Aurora said. “My mom puts stuff on Facebook and helps me deliver the orders.”
Aurora’s mother, Kelsey Collier-Wise, explained her part in the process.
“I help spread the word and deliver to people who are only accessible during the day,” Collier-Wise said. “[Aurora] does a lot of the cookie sorting by herself, does the deliveries that are close by and pretty much does all of the selling and money collecting at church.”
Keaton’s mother also plays a big part in helping her.
“Well, my mom has helped by helping people know about it so they'll want to buy cookies from me,” Keaton said.
Susan Heggestad, Keaton’s mother, said she feels her role is “primary facilitator and overseer of cookie organization,” especially in the chaos that daily life can bring.
“While Keaton is capable of doing some sales and deliveries by herself (for instance: with her teachers, while visiting the VPL librarians, etc) I try to make sure she has remembered which orders still need delivering, that she's checked off her sheet each night, let her know of folks who've told me that they want cookies so she can prepare their orders, actually drive her around to her deliveries, etc.,” Heggestad said. “I also check to see if we need more cookies ordered for the coming week, and make sure both households are aware of special cookie booth events she needs to get to. But, you know, that's being a mom, essentially. Moms are the ones who have to keep track of all the little things.”
This year Aurora said her goal for cookie sales are about what they were last year with all the favorite flavors back on the market.
“On the cookie order sheet, it says Lemonades are a fan favorite but Caramel Delights have sold really good,” Aurora said. “And Caramel Delights are my favorite.”
Like daughter, like mother.
“My favorites are definitely Caramel Delights,” Collier-Wise said. “I make sure I have a box to myself at the start of every cookie season.”
Keaton also has noticed popularity of certain flavors.
“So, definitely Thin Mints and Carmel Delights are the two most popular,” Keaton said. “My favorites are Thin Mints, Lemonades, and Shortbread.”
Effort and networking seems to be the strategy for these cookie connoisseurs.
“I mostly try my hardest,” Aurora said. “I sell to my family and people at church.”
“What we are trying to do is sell to as many family members as we can, and then do things like selling door-to-door.” Keaton said. “Our troop will also do several special booth sales with the sales going to the whole troop.”
Booth sales can become quite an adventure, according to Collier.
“Many of the girls remember our outdoor booth sales in freezing cold Februarys past,” Collier said. “They get a little loopy when they have been jumping around and dancing to stay warm.”
Collier herself remembers how much work cookie sales can be.
“I remember selling cookies door-to-door in my uniform while my dad waited in the car,” Collier said. “One time, I was selling in the drive-through of a bank and the bank closed and it got dark. My mom finally showed up (could have used a cell phone in 1970)!”
Cookie sales can also be a little overwhelming, according to Heggestad.
“I was never a Girl Scout, so never had the cookie sales experience myself,” Heggestad said. “My first time was when Keaton joined as a 5 year old. Her participation was voluntary at that age, but it seemed like it wouldn't be good not to participate, so we tried. Needless to say, we ate a lot of cookies that year.”
Heggestad said her daughter’s cookie sales have gone up with experience though sometimes it’s a struggle to keep up.
“To top it off, I'm not eating sugar this year, so I really wish I didn't have all these cases of cookies in my house,” Heggestad said. “That aside, she enjoys being a part of the troop and I certainly appreciate all that her wonderful troop leader, Caitlin Collier, does to create an enriching experience for our girls.”
Despite any challenges, the girls recognize they are learning skills which may help them later in life.
“I'm learning people skills and money managing,” Keaton said. “And I think that will help me by, like, if I'm a person who is going to go into sales, it helps me learn to be clear in explaining a product and how to use it, and money managing will help me learn to run my own business.”
Collier-Wise has seen Aurora grow through not just cookie sales, but other aspects of Girl Scouts as well.
“She's learned a lot of skills in many areas like camping and cooking, as well as being more aware of being a good Girl Scout sister, and friend, to other girls,” Collier-Wise said. “On the cookie side, I've enjoyed getting to see her get better at figuring out order totals and making change every year. We had a whole conversation this year about how useful multiplication is!”
Collier-Wise remembers her Girl Scout experience.
“I was a Girl Scout from when I was Aurora's age until I graduated from high school,” Collier-Wise said. “It was a big part of my life and I sold a lot of cookies over the years. My best selling years were in high school when I didn't have much competition and could sell out of the trunk of my car.”
All the effort is put to good use, according to Heggestad.
“In my perfect world, our kids wouldn't have to sell things in order to be able to do all these fun extra activities, but then they would have a greater cost to families,” Heggestad said. “So – it’s for a great cause. I just brace myself and know that we'll get through it whenever cookies season rolls around. Besides, she's getting older and much more capable of keeping track of it all.”
Keaton remembers a fun experience in Girl Scouts made possible by things like cookie sales.
“We went camping one year and got lost on the trail,” Keaton said. “It was rainy... and it was getting dark. It was an adventure!”
Aurora also has many fond memories already.
“Once we were at Clay County Park and there was a big merry-go-round and it almost made me sick!” Aurora said. “At Halloween, we made lollipop ghosts for firefighters. For Christmas, me and two other scouts made warm blankets for people who need them.”
Collier said her favorite part about the whole program is seeing the girls grow in skills, confidence and independence.
“The best job in the world, besides being a parent, is being a leader,” Collier said. “And I have the best Scout parents; I could not do my job without them! Thank you Cookie Manager Katie Birkeland!”
Aurora and Keaton also enjoy themselves.
“My favorite part of Girl Scouts is eating the cookies and doing fun things with my Girl Scout sisters!” Aurora said.
“My favorite part of Girl Scouts is probably things like learning people skills and getting to make new friends,” Keaton said.
To ensure future fun activities for the Vermillion Girl Scouts, contact any member of the troop to purchase cookies before March 29.