How The Cookie Crumbles: What It's Like Being An Adult Girl Scout

Aug 27, 2014

Everyone has an ice-breaker fact about themselves right? Something quirky, cute, not too heavy? Then there those other facts, the ones you don't necessarily hide, but that you don't bring up either. This is one of those. Now, this is nothing that people close to me don’t already know. It even features on my resume, and almost always comes up in job interviews.

I’m an adult Girl Scout.

I know, it’s an oxymoron. Kind of like jumbo shrimp. But believe me, anything you have to say, I’ve heard it. I’ve gotten the confused looks and fielded the burning questions, for example:

12 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, $50. Eating all your Thin Mints within 24 hours, priceless.
Credit Selbe B via Flickr CC

Do you still sell cookies?

No. But I could, if I wanted to. Though the whole thing sort of loses its charm when you’re not buying your Thin Mints and Samoas from an eager 3rd grader.

Do you still have a uniform?

No, I’ve hung up my white shirt and khaki pants for life. I do still have the vests hanging in my closet, though.

Really, what is a Girl Scout Adult?

Girl Scouts' participation in parades hasn't changed much over the years.
Credit unnormalized via Flickr CC

Look, I’ll be honest here. We don’t really do that much. We have a lifetime membership card, but it doesn’t get us a lifetime of free cookies or anything. We’re an official member of the organization and are eligible to volunteer with most Girl Scout activities. We’ve paid our dues for the rest of our lives. Aside from that, every Girl Scout Adult’s experience is different, though here’s the official line on the position from Girl Scouts of the USA:

When you become a Girl Scout adult, you join nearly one million Girl Scouts—across the country and around the world—who volunteer their time and inspire girls to become leaders... Whether you want to build your resume, blaze a particular career path or make new friends based on a shared Girl Scout experience, you've got a worldwide sisterhood to add richness and fun for the rest of your life!

And there's one question I posed to my troop members: Can you still recite the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law? Here are the results:

Even though there’s no minimum length of membership, most adult Girl Scouts tend to have a long track record. Out of the 8 people in our troop, 5 of us have been Girl Scouts for 15 or 16 years. That's a lot of cookies. 

Thin Mints are another popular option, and my personal favorite.
Credit The Consortium via Flickr CC

Cookie sales are far from the only thing Girl Scouts do, but I humored the curious and looked into the fundraiser's history. As of 2012, the Girl Scout cookie empire is worth a cool $700 million. The classic cookie campaign has come far over the years, since individual members began baking and selling cookies in the 1920s. The first nationwide sale was held in 1936, and you can probably guess how it went from there.

Even WWII couldn't stop the sale of Girl Scout cookies and their popularity only grew as Baby Boomers caused a spike in membership in the 1950s and 60s. Another important year is 1976, which saw a high point with the introduction of Samoas, the perennial favorite in every non-official poll I conduct. There are currently two bakeries that handle America's cravings for Girl Scout cookies and 12 flavors are produced annually, though they aren't all available in every state. And even though cookie season comes only once a year, you can make the most of it with other cookie-inspired products that appear on supermarket shelves

Credit Brian PDX via Flickr CC

  Girl Scouts of the USA celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2012. Many thanks to Steph Chapman, Katie Schmidt, and Carolyn Higgins for going on record about their combined 40+ years as Girl Scouts. You can find more information about how to get involved with Scouting on their website, here

Have any questions? You can comment below or on our Facebook page or Tweet to us. And while you’re there, let us know: what is your favorite Girl Scout cookie?