NAVAL AIR STATION LEMOORE — Chances are you might be buying a few more Girl Scout cookies this year.
Nearly 200 Girl Scouts from all across the Valley came to Naval Air Station Lemoore for the Girl Scouts Central California South’s Cookie Biz, a workshop in which the girls each earned a cookie badge by learning about cookie marketing and how to increase their cookie-selling skills.
“We hope that it gives the girls some extra confidence and sharpens their skills,” said Shannon Smith, the regional program manager who helped organize the event.
At the NASL Navy College, the girls were taken into classrooms in which volunteers and regional Girl Scout staff talked with the girls about selling cookies and did various activities with them. This was the second year the workshop was held at the base. It cost $15 for each girl who participated, which covers the cost of lunch and the badges.
“It’s great that the girls get a chance to talk to girls from other areas they haven’t visited before,” Smith said. “We like to give the girls that chance as often as possible. Anytime you give the girls an opportunity to discover or refine their skills, it makes a big difference.”
Eight-year-old Czarina Mireles from Fresno Troop 2802, who came with her mother, Lupe, to the event, said she likes Cookie Biz, especially when she gets to interact with new people.
“I like getting to role-play and meeting other girls that are around my age,” Mireles said.
The idea to hold the event at the base occurred during talks between regional Girl Scouts CEO Cathy Ferguson and Capt. Eric Venema, who runs the base. Ferguson said they have held other events at the base in the past and approached Venema about using the Navy College for the event due to its large space.
“It was a really good fit for us because we needed a lot of space for this,” Ferguson said. “Also, we wanted the girls to see what career choices are available in the military.”
One important goal she hopes the Cookie Biz accomplishes is to help the girls understand the important financial aspects of the program and other important factors involved in selling cookies, such as setting goals, managing their money and more.
“We’re essentially trying to instill in them a sense of financial literacy,” Ferguson said.
Cookie sales are big business for the organization, which sells nearly $3 million worth of cookies in this area alone, 70 percent of which came through just order-taking. Ferguson said there was a bump in sales last year after they added the ability to process orders with a credit card swiper instead of just taking cash.
“In a way, we’re trying to tell people what the Girl Scouts is all about through our cookies,” she said. “It gives them a chance to know what the girls do and how much it means to them.”
Venema, who participated in the Boy Scouts when he was young, said he believes programs like this are important for the girls’ futures.
“Scouting is a worthwhile project that creates productive citizens,” he said. “Children are our most valuable resources and very critical to the success of our country. They are the future leaders of our country.”
Girl Scouts will begin taking orders for their cookies, including the new Mango Creme, starting Jan. 25. The cookies will be delivered and sold in front of stores in March.
The reporter can be reached at 583-2429 or jluiz@HanfordSentinel.com.