Some Girl Scouts To Sit Out Cookie Sale In Protest

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota Girl Scout council’s decision to sell some of its camps has so upset one Scout that she and others in her troop plan to sit out the big annual cookie sale that starts Saturday.

Kim Zaiman, who leads a troop of 12 girls in the St. Paul suburb of Maplewood, said Thursday her 10-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, will sit out the sale along with some other troop members. The idea also is catching on among other members of the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys council, Zaiman said, although she didn’t know how many girls would end up refusing to sell Thin Mints, Samoas and similar treats. The situation was “changing by the hour,” she said.

The girls were upset by the council’s decision to get rid of four camps in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Many other councils have made similar, difficult decisions about selling camps in recent years, said Michelle Tompkins, national spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the USA. While that often raises strong emotions, Tompkins said she’s not aware of similar protests elsewhere this year.

The sales are partly the result of a national decision a few years ago to consolidate 312 local councils into 112 amid a gradual decline in members and tight funding, Tompkins said. Several councils decided they didn’t need or couldn’t afford as many properties as they ended up owing.

The River Valleys council has already transferred one camp to another council and sold another. Camp Greenwood near Buffalo is still up for sale, as is most of Camp Rolling Ridges in Hudson, Wis. A few sections of the Wisconsin camp were sold last year. Kim Zaiman helped organize a group to protest the sales, but its members were rebuffed last Saturday at the council’s contentious annual meeting.

That led to her daughter’s protest. Zaiman said her troop is sitting on about 3,500 boxes of cookies, many of which they may have to turn back in for other troops to sell. At least three or four other members will join Elizabeth in refusing to sell, her mother said.

“This was very difficult for my daughter to decide,” Zaiman said. “She loves selling cookies . but she felt so strongly about this.”

Elizabeth Zaiman, who’s in her fifth year in Girl Scouts, said she has sold more than 600 boxes in each of the past two years, and she decided to protest this time because she doesn’t want the money to go to her council.

“They are selling some of my favorite camps,” she said.

The protest was first reported by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

Barbara Boelk, spokeswoman for the River Valleys council, said the camp sales will help ensure the best experiences possible to the 45,000 girls the council serves in southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. While the council isn’t losing money, it’s had to cut its budget and may lose some United Way funding this spring. The council still has six other camps, she said.

“We’re sorry some people aren’t happy about it,” Boelk said. “But this really is in the best interest of our girls.”

Zaiman said the process for selling properties has been much more open elsewhere. A threatened cookie strike in Michigan a couple years ago was canceled after a council there became more open to talking, she said.

Just last month, the financially shaky Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina decided to sell four properties, including one camp. The council’s chief executive, Loretta Graham, said many people are sad but there have been no protests.

Cookie sales provide crucial income for Girl Scout troops. National sales totaled $714 million in 2010 — about 198 million boxes — and about $415 million went to local councils, Tompkins said. Cookies provided the Rivers Valley council with $9.3 million last year, about two-thirds of its budget.

“Any threat to the Girl Scout cookie program is a direct threat to girls,” Tompkins said.

Taylor McCanna, 16, of St. Louis Park, a Girl Scout for nine years, said she’s sad a camp she attended has closed but she believes the River Valleys council made the right decision so future generations enjoy the same opportunities she’s had. She said she sells about 250 boxes of cookies a year and will be out selling again this month.

“Girl Scouts has given me a community through my entire life,” McCanna said. “It has given me many tools, many of the life skills that I still use today. It has given me connections and confidence. . . . It has given me a leg up in school and all aspects of my life.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • It's Black and White!

    If the Girl Scout council can not afford to retain the camps, than a financial decision has to be made. You can’t keep up on something if the money’s not there. To Kim Zaiman – you don’t want the camps to close but you are not willing to sell cookies to help with the financial needs of the council. Makes no sense to me. Kim – are you willing to support the camps financially with your own funds?

    • Mary Huckenpoehler

      These troops only make 25 cents for every box sold.The CEO of girl scouts that is marketing the cookies is making 300,000 annually.I think if they want to protest then they also need to come up with a different approach to raising money that is more beneficial than 25 cents for every 3.50 sold.

      • Ed Blanchette

        If 25 cents is all the Girl Scouts make on a box of COOKIES then the answer is simple find a new source of income! Find a new bakery with a better deal or find a new product instead of cookies

      • jokysu

        Mary – you are incorrect about how much is made and where the money goes. Check your facts. $0.55-$0.66 Range of Troop proceeds
        $0.10 Girl awards & recognitions
        $0.87 Baker (cost of cookies)
        $1.87-$1.98 Council-sponsored program events, training, properties & support services.

    • jokysu

      Kim – Offer a solution, don’t add to the problem. Sell more than you ever have and donate your troops funds to the council to save those camps. Maybe you will have some impact. Complaining never gets you anywhere.

    • Kristen

      I’m right there with you

      • GirlScoutLeader

        The reason some leaders are making the decision to not sell cookies is because the leadership sold off the properties without input from the Girl Scout community. Many of us tried to provide other solutions but the council would not listen. You can search through the news archives for stories on this. Basically they made a decision that made a large number of their constituents unhappy without proper due diligence. Now there is not enough camps locally to support the number of girls using them.

    • bsmurf

      The Girl Scout council did not give the local troops or girls the opportunity to raise additional money to save their camp. The camp that they are selling in Hudson, Wisconsin, was well-attended and the GSA recommended NOT selling it, but the River Valley council decided to sell it anyway. Ms. Zaiman and her troop could have sold a record-setting number of cookies, but it would have made absolutely no difference. And since Ms. Zaiman’s daughter is not selling cookies, then Ms. Zaiman will have to pay her daughter’s camp fees this summer, so she will be spending more money out of her own pocket to support her daugher’s camp experience than many parents do. Your first sentence assumes that the Girl Scout council cannot afford to retain these camps, but the story says that the council is not losing money, which is more than many non-profits can say in these hard economic times. Financial disaster is NOT looming, so why sell camps, especially at a time when the real estate market has tanked?

    • What's black and white?

      Black and White! – You assume that Kim Zaiman is not willing to sell cookies, but she and her troop have been selling cookies and raising money for the council for years. Kim Zaiman has volunteered her time and effort to the GS for years. It is not fair to imply that she is not willing to support the GS! This is a specific act of protest on the part of girls who have chosen to take this action. They have sold a lot of cookies and raised a lot of money for camps, then have seen their own camp sold.

  • pete

    If the Girls Scouts need more money to save their camps, what does sitting out of selling cookies do? Gives them a less chance to save the camps. Don’t you think they should be trying to sell as many cookies as they can, make as much money as the can????

    Instead of wasting time and energy protesting, get out there and sell like you have never sold before.

  • Sadness

    The”In” thing to do these days!!!
    Protest something, anything!!!

    Sigh… We’re doomed… :(

    • scarecrow

      @sadness – And when other forms of action have failed, and when you’ve sold a lot of cookies for years and then have your camp sold in a process that to you seems unfair, is it not fair to protest? You may agree or disagree with their stance, but don’t question their right to protest. You may agree or disagree, but some girls have decided to take action for what they believe is right. Good for them! Their action will result in less funding for their local troop, so these girls are making a sacrifice, not just making noise. I do hope that the troop leaders and the girls’ parents will fully discuss the issues with them (if they haven’t already) so that the girls have a full understanding of how and why the decision was made, how “the other side” views the situation, and so on.

  • Daisy

    yeah, sounds like a very lame excuse not to have to sell those cookies! I agree that it appears that selling as many cookies as you possibly can would make far more difference. Way to teach your daughter how to help out….Instead of taking such a negative approach, consider trying something far more positive…it goes a heck of alot farther!

    • Do not judge

      Daisy — Don’t be so quick to judge Kim Zaiman (“Way to teach your daughter to help out”). She has been a troop leader, which is a volunteer position. As the story says, her daughter has sold more than 1,200 boxes of cookies in the past two years, which is more than $4,200 net. Whether or not you agree with her daughter’s decision, it is daft to imply that this woman is a bad parent. She has volunteered and has worked with these girls for years. And in the past she has obviously supported her daughter’s fundraising efforts. Those are undeniably positive actions. She is supporting and respecting her daughter’s decision to decline to sell cookies this year. Why is this negative??

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  • Former Girl Scout

    Great, let’s teach our Girl Scouts what? To boycott? I get standing up for what you believe in, but seriously? I was a Girl Scout for 12 years and I’d like to know when it became the troop leaders decision to not sell cookies? It was one of the things we waited for each year because we LOVED to sell cookies to our friends and family and now because of the adult activities (property issues, etc.) that have nothing to do with the girls, they are the ones that will suffer. Let’s just do the fun things Girl Scouts are around to do, don’t punish the girls!

    • Completely Disguisted

      AGREE! Girl Scouts is to teach our girls leadership, bring them out of their shells, experience things, etc., and I’m completely appalled that the Girl Scout Council is allowing this to happen. I’m completely disturbed that Girl Scout leaders are allowed to make these type of decisions, how embarrassing! This is not teach our girls the positive things they need to learn. I think the leader in this article needs to get out of Girl Scouts if that is the message she wants to spread, it is not the Girl Scout way! These people should be ashamed of themselves taking a club that has been around how many years and doing what they are doing.

    • Another Former Girl Scout

      From what the story says, it sounds like each individual girl is deciding whether or not to sell cookies, not the troop leader. Hopefully they have not felt pressured into the decision, but one would hope that the girls’ parents would intervene if this were the case. Also, how does the selling of a camp have nothing to do with the girls? It has everything to do with the girls! You say “don’t punish the girls”–isn’t selling their camp punishing to them?

  • April

    Exactly, Pete. How is sitting out and not selling cookies going to help?

  • Dad

    The girl Scouts need to offer better activitys for the girls like the Boy Scouts. the girls want to go camping, do shooting sports, rock climbing and other fun out door stuff. This is why my girl will not join and I have heard this time and again from other girls. If you provide a better program you would get more girls.

    • jokysu

      Dad –

      You are wrong on this. These opportunities are available. You just need to hook in with the correct troop. Or you need to volunteer yourself to make these things happen. The program is only as good as the leaders who support it. If your daughter wants to do those things, then step up and be a leader. The program is for the girls to decide. They just need leaders to help point them in the correct direction for such activities.

    • mary

      My daughter has been in a troop for 3 years> She has done everything from horseback riding to roughing it in the woods, to helping out in the community by volunteering.But I bet you buy the cookies every year, don’t you????

    • kris


      I have a troop thats sells around 8,000 boxes each year, and they do way to many activities, says some parents in my troop. with out sell cookies my girls would not be able to do the things they’ve done. IT ALL DEPENDS how much a leader wants to put in the troop and how much the girls want to do. I have had girls drop out of my troop because we are to busy, I have had girls join because we are so busy.

  • KG

    DoesNotMakeSense is right! Is there a way to change the focus of the protest to “Saving Endangered Girl Scout Camps in Minnesota and Wisconson”. Then the focus of the protest effort, could be the “advertising slogan” to promote increased cookie sales!


    • sad mom

      It would be great if the girls could sell cookies to save their camp. Unfortunately, this is not an option. The camp is being sold regardless of how many cookies the girls sell.

    • Sagar

      oh yes, i think that ten is reasonable. but what does that make my 12? laura sold ceokios for years and years… but is no longer a girl scout. but our neighbors are! i have a strict rule about girl scout ceokios :) the girl has to ask me (not the mom!) and i will buy at least one box. i had to start this rule when i was working at the elementary school… i can’t bear to say no to one of them who has the courage to ask, and that first year i ended up with far more than the reasonable number! i’m not sure i even have a favorite…

  • bummer

    Maybe instead of doing something negative and teaching our children that is ok, let’s try doing something positive – selling more cookies than normal, opening the camps to other events or organizations. Be proactive rather than reactive.

  • delegate

    Bummer, That’s exactly what the Camp supporters wanted a chance to do. They oppose a decision made without transparency last year. All their attempts to work with the council leadership have been declined. The camps are to be sold regardless of the good position of council finances, and not at all in relation to cookie sales income, in which this council ranks 1-2 in the nation.

    • cookiemom

      My daughter WILL be selling cookies. If your regular cookie contact is boycotting this year, my daughter would love to sell cookies to you!

  • Mattmosc

    These girls are only 6-11 years old, don’t get them involved in crazy adult politics. It now sounds like Girls Scouts have become a political group instead of a fun and learning experience for young girls!

    • gogirl

      These girls are directly affected by the decision to sell their camp. These “crazy adult politics” have an impact on them, so they are “involved” no matter what. Politics is, by definition, a system of resolving disputes and making decisions. In a democratic political system, all people have the right to express their opinion. Since these girls are directly affected by a decision in which they had no say, I don’t think it’s crazy for them to decide not to sell cookies this year.

  • Phil

    A banner year of cookie selling may have saved one or 2 of the camps. This approach does nothing helpful. Nothing!!

    • beth

      These camps are being sold. Period. No amount of cookie selling will save these camps…

  • nicole

    My daughter is a girld scout, and has done some of the things you mention. In fact, one of the camps she attended this year was all about sports. It included archery and wall climbing, among other things.

    My daughter will be selling cookies this year. I think that sitting out the cookie sales is a really bad idea, and is just going to hurt the camps that are staying open, as well as all of the other aspects of Girl Scouting that are funded through cookie sales.

  • Dave Seavy

    That’s about the same mentality that took place after the cops in the Rodney King beating got off light. They burned down their own neighborhoods in protest, then had the guts to stand back and say “We Showed Them.” I have the weekend free, so I guess I’ll have to drum up something to protest. (Heavy sarcasm)

    • mav

      Real easy to be sarcastic about something that doesn’t affect you. Should we just teach girls to sit down and shut up if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly?

  • Hungry

    I am hungry for cookies now!

  • pam

    What people are not realizing is that they are taking the camps away for girl scouts in poorer communities and leaving the camps for the girls in the more wealthier ares. Is this really fair to our girl scouts. Teaching the girls to stand up for what they believe in is good even if it does mean to boycott. Girl Scouts is about teaching your girls to be strong.

    • Mikey

      Boycotting something is NOT teaching someone to be strong. It is teaching them a toddler tactic of sticking your tongue out, saying ‘Nyaah nyaah!’, stomping your feet, and then burying your head in the sand. Boycotts are for people who don’t have the seeds to actually step up and DO something about whatever it is they’re upset about. It’s avoiding, instead of confronting, with the facade of having actually done something constructive about the issue.

      There are far greater lessons to be taught to these Girl Scouts than what they learn from a boycott. They haven’t learned anything about conflict management, about confronting a problem, about how to deal with life. By boycotting, these leaders are showing the girls that you’ll be a better person and effect change by sitting on your butts and not doing a thing. That’s not how it works.

      • Michele Menuey Ekern

        EXACTLY! I am a new Girl Scout Leader & would never think to protest by using “not selling cookies” to show up the council. If the Leaders dont like it, then maybe they need to run for Council to make the hard decisions. Maybe gather the troops together to figure out how to save a camp.

      • Girlscout

        Mikey-clearly you haven’t been following this since these issues emerged. There have been several meetings called, but the council refuses to even grant us an audience, and we have flooded their offices with letters of objection, and have even stood outside their offices picketing. This is really the last straw, because we have tried so many other ways…and no one will accept my idea of having a non-violent coup d’etat on the council and put in people who will actually do their job and listen to their constituents…so boycotting is the only way it seems we’ll be able to send a message to the council. And clearly this is already giving us publicity, so when the buyers get wind of this, some will call the council and ask them what the heck they’re thinking, and then maybe they’ll listen. Maybe they’ll react because their name is turning into mud. The council is ruining our good name, and does not live up to the girl scout values. Do not tell me that we have not done anything, when we’ve been giving it our damn best to try and remedy this.

      • gogirl

        Don’t assume that these people “don’t have the seeds to actually step up and DO something,” because they tried. They tried and they lost. Their camps are being sold no matter what. It’s safe to assume that some of the girls feel they have been treated unfairly. They are asked to sell cookies to raise money to support camp, but their camp is going to be sold, so they’ve decided not to sell cookies this year. That is not a “toddler tactic.” Would it be better to teach these girls that if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly, if you try to speak but feel you’ve not been listened to, then you should sit down, shut up, and toe the line? You should be good little passive girls? In light of the situation as it really exists, what action would you suggest? They feel their voice has been taken away, so they are declining to sell cookies as their “last word.” I suspect that after this boycott, after “being heard,” they will return to their normal troop activities and will be back to selling cookies next year.

    • Ann

      Absolutely! Girls of courage, confidence and character stand up for what they believe is right!

  • red

    those cookies are disgusting, all of them and expensive. they are not worth it I amj 40 some years old and have tried all of them

  • Kim

    So the little girls who sell cookies are going to suffer….so @ Kim put your issues aside and let your little girl sell cookies so that she can attend one of the other Camps. It’s called recession and we are STILL in it. So let the little ladies sell cookies so that the Girl Scouts do not suffer anymore! Get over it already!

    • Not pretending to know more than I do

      The story said that the daughter, Elizabeth, made this decision, so why are you telling Kim Zaiman to “let your little girl sell cookies”? This “little girl” can obviously think for herself and has been bold enough to make a controversial decision. I know Kim Zaiman and her “little girl,” and if Elizabeth had wanted to sell cookies, Kim would not have stood in her way.

    • Mahiya

      Here is a brief list of activities good for both girls and boys to epomcte at on the same level:Synchronized swimSink the canoeSwimming relay race – juniors (breast or side stroke or butter fly or back stroke)Backyard bowlingTrivia decathlonFlag decoratingShip building and swimmingGeocachingBocce ballBest finger painting artBall between knees hop down line, over under ball pass, one leg at a time race, 3 legged race, potato sack racing, (relay race)Best trick photography (playing with depths)Talent show/gong showFood wasteEating contestBest dressed representative

  • carol

    cookies are getting to expensive to buy why not get cookie company to pony up more they are the ones making out like a bandit in this

  • A former unhappy girl scout

    To tell you the truth the selling of the cookies really does not benefit the girls at all. If you go to the girl scout website and see the break down of who get the money, most of it goes to the council. So this leads to the question why can’t they afford to keep the camps? They get most of the money obviously they are not manging it well. Also they’d be able to keep the camps up if they actually made the camp experience enjoyable. I stopped going to girl scout camp because I was bullied and had really bad experiences. the counselors and staff never did anything about the bullying. Also they were going to make us girls pick up horse poop and we were not even allowed to ride the horses, nor were we there for horse camp. The this is what is wrong with The Girl scout council of minnesota and Wiscon river valleys. YOU GO GIRLS for BOYCOTTING! You deserve to keep the camps and have a say and more money of the proceeds should go to the girls like it does when boy scouts sell stuff. My brother has made a ton of money selling stuff for boy scouts, but the girl scout council steals it all from the girl scouts.

    • jokysu

      Sprry to hear about your bad experience, but that is not the same for everyone. As for the boy scouts making tons of money, that is not the case for every boy either. The Boy Scouts have more options to sell stuff. The GS are in a different finanical structure so the options to earn money are very limited. Boy scouts also earn money for themselves when they sell certain things. Not every boy earns the same. In girl scouts we sell for the collective troop and the organization. You see different results this way. Also, neither org is perfect and both are struggling for money. Don’t boycott, support the kids;. That is the only way things get better.

  • SM

    If the Council would use the money to save the camps, I would be all for it. But the River Valley Council has made it very clear that they have no intention in saving the camps. They say they need the money,but then sell it for way less than market value. This is a great way for the girls to stand up for what they believe in. I will be giving my money to the troops and not to the Council.

  • rkwRichfield

    Take a look at the Girl Scouts national web site. Check out their financial statement for 2009. 2009 is the latest financials I could find. Decide for your self if you want to support this group. I will continue with cash donations to local troops only, no more cookies to support their national headquarters.
    I was amazed to find their unfunded pensions at over 34M, I always thought this was a volunteer organization, not so, they have quite a payroll. They had over 109 million in investments in 2009, so I don’t think they are broke just yet. It looks like they get money each year from the department of Justice, Agriculture, Health, and others for over 1.5 million. So some of my tax money is already going to this group, wow, would have never guessed that in a million years. Merchandise sales were interesting, that is scout uniforms etc. In 2009 they sold 45m with a 28 m cost for a 16m profit. Sweet. So things are so bad they have to sell off their real estate in a down real estate market to maintain operations??? My view is they need to slash corporate headquarters and they would have more money than they know what to do with. Plenty of money to hang onto all of their camps.

    • Zulu

      You mustn’t confuse the GSUSA organization with the local council. Cookie profits stay in the local council and local troops, I don’t believe anything other than the $12 membership dues go to the national organization. However, the local council also has merchandise sales as a significant item in their income. Many of the council staff are not the upper executives and are likely not overcompensated for their work. They seem to be hard working, well meaning people. However, the governance and decision making processes are not well communicated, and input is not welcome.

  • Eartha

    Scouts is not a good organization. Fund raise for Y camps instead.

    • Really?

      You’re clueless as to the workings and integrity of the YMCA in MN. GET YER FACTS PAL

    • Yhjjmkjh

      Dear the American public ,

      before deciding which camp to place your funds with, one should consider the camps compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations. One should also consider the risk management and human resource practices of the organization. If you find in researching these, that the organization that operates the camp fails to meet the basics, then you’re just throwing away your money. Be careful, choose wisely.

  • Skeezer

    Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the latest example of mismanagement and poor decisions within this organization. The united states is one of a very select few that have segregated scouting programs. The GSA has been declining for years, and are failing to grasp the needs of the youth, and even more so, the desires of the youth for outdoor program. Sure, sell you camps, merge your councils, and curtail your programs. See the ship on the horizon that is the venerable Boy Scouts of America. Take some lessons from the BSA and how it serves the needs of it’s membership. It’s my estimation that the GSA will take it to the ground until the only thing left is a merge with the BSA, to form Scouts of America. Congress errored by chartering two seperate organizations, unlike the rest ofthe scouting movement worldwide.

    • blued

      Ha! Yeah, cuz Boy Scouts are booming.

  • SchlosserFlosser

    ʎɐqǝ uo pɹɐoqʎǝʞ ɹǝɥʇouɐ ƃuıʎnq ɹǝʌǝu ɯ,ı

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