Girl Scouts boycott door-to-door cookie sales

Doug Whiteman

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Some Girl Scouts in northeastern Ohio are refusing to go door-to-door selling the organization’s famous Caramel deLites, Thin Mints and Trefoils to protest a decision to close four scout camps.

The idea to protest the annual cookie drive came from the girls because they don’t like that the 18-county Girl Scouts of North East Ohio isn’t supporting the camps, said Marie Cassidy, the leader of a troop in Aurora, about 20 miles southeast of Cleveland.

Fourteen of the troop’s 16 high-school-age scouts have decided not to go door-to-door this year, though they’ll still sell to cookies to people who request them.

“They were upset and they feel powerless because their voice isn’t being heard,” Cassidy told The Associated Press on Monday.

Selling cookies is a lot of work for little money, she said, adding that less than a dollar from the sale of each box is returned to the troop to support its activities, such as camping and educational field trips. The scouts will find other ways to make up for the lost funding.

“They can get jobs at McDonald’s or do baby-sitting jobs, pet-sitting jobs. So that’s the way that they will earn money then,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy said troop members and parents were reluctant to talk to the media because the feared repercussions from the local council. Six or seven of the girls are working toward the Gold Award, the highest achievement in girl scouting, and didn’t want any comments to affect their work toward that goal, she said.

Council officials didn’t immediately return messages, and a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of the USA said she was unavailable to comment Monday.

Girls in a Cleveland Heights troop will meet later this month to decide whether to cut down on activities or ask parents to pick up more of the costs, said troop leader Jean Miller.

“It has been a really difficult decision for them,” Miller told the Akron Beacon Journal, referring to her scouts who aren’t selling cookies. “It’s a really hard place to be when you’re 12 years old.”

It was unclear how widely the protest had spread. In 2010, about two-thirds of the 37,000 girls in the North East Ohio council took part in the cookie campaign and a fall sale of nuts and candy, the newspaper reported.

The regional scouting organization had originally wanted to sell five out of its seven camps, with officials saying the proceeds could be used to make improvements at the remaining two. In October, the council’s governing board voted to keep one of the five slated to be sold.

It’s not the first time Girl Scout cookie sales have fallen victim to a clash over camps. A year ago, a scout in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., led her troop in sitting out the cookie sale because they were unhappy with a decision to get rid of four camps in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.