Helping girls build their entrepreneurial skills one box at a time
When you buy a box of Girl Scout cookies (or 10…let’s be honest here), you directly influence a girl’s business skills. What most people don’t see are the awesome volunteers who work long hours behind the scenes to make this program possible. These volunteers are known as “Product Sales Managers” or “PSM’s” and they coordinate, organize, educate and calculate thousands of boxes of cookies each year.
One of these PSM’s is Girl Scout dad, Craig Lybarger supporting Service Unit 642 in Olathe, KS! Craig and his family found that supporting cookie sales has been a wonderful way for them to be together. His oldest daughter, Samantha, is a Brownie and their second daughter, Katarina, is in Kindergarten and a brand new Girl Scout Daisy this year! Both love the cookie program and the pride they have showing off their cookie dad.
In Craig’s words, the job of a PSM is: “to have a discussion with the parents in the troop to support fall product sales or cookie sales, talk about recognition levels, provide dates when things are due and walk them through the program and how it works. We also talk about the girls and their goals. For the Service Unit Manager, I do that training with the troop PSMs, who then talk to the parents in the troop.”
Becoming a cookie dad was at the top of Craig’s list when Samantha’s troop was first forming. It has always been important to Craig to find a way to be involved with his children as much as possible, even with a difficult work schedule. “I have an on-call schedule, so I knew I couldn’t commit to doing something right after school. I volunteered to support the Cookie Program because I knew I could make [Samantha] proud to know that I was trying to help and be involved with her in Scouts even if I couldn’t be the troop leader,” Craig said. As a Boy Scout, son of an Eagle Scout and a Girl Scout, Craig was raised to value the Scouting experience.
For Samantha’s first year, Craig served as the troop cookie manager and after talking with the former Service Unit Product Sales Manager, he found out she was stepping down and was looking for a replacement. It stuck with him through the cookie season and at the end, he asked if he could shadow her during the final turn-in. The next year, he became the Service Unit 642 PSM.
It takes a lot of work to lead an entire service unit’s cookie program – but the impact it has had on Samantha makes it worth it. One story Craig shared captures the real power of the Girl Scout Cookie Program and the skills girls can learn in just one day of selling.
“The first year of cookie sales, in one day, one 12-hour period, my daughter changed before my eyes. The first house we went to, she rang the doorbell, her head was buried in her chest and quietly said ‘would you like to buy some cookies?’ and that was all she said. 12 hours later, at the last house, she rang the doorbell and full of energy said ‘Hi! My name is Samantha from Troop 3506 and I’m selling Girl Scout cookies! Do you like peanut butter?’ and talked to the customer about options. She changed how she conducted herself, stood up straight, shoulders back, and made eye contact with the customer, having a good conversation…in one day. To see her blossom in that 12-hour day made me so excited. She would not have done that and know how to handle herself like that if not for Girl Scouts,” Craig said.
The passion and energy for the job, because of the power he sees in the program, is infectious. He recently inspired a woman from Overland Park to become a troop cookie manager for her troop after just one conversation. As the PSM for the entire service unit, the excitement and energy he has for the Cookie Program is being spread to all the troops in SU 642!
Beyond cookies, the opportunities Samantha has had speak for themselves in his eyes. “Samantha is learning to be nice in a safe environment and she gets to do things she wouldn’t normally get to do, like canoeing and kayaking. This summer she got to do archery for the first time, nature hikes, all those things she gets to do by being part of Girl Scouting,” Craig said.
As a dad, he knows that his involvement in Girl Scouts is something a little extra, because not all dads want to volunteer. “Samantha got a special badge that she wore like a badge of honor that said ‘my dad is a cookie dad’ and she loved telling everyone ‘my dad’s in charge of cookies!’ To see how proud it made her, how happy it made her, that’s why I did it,” Craig said.
When it comes to being Man Enough to be a Girl Scout, Craig says: “Don’t be afraid to volunteer, don’t think it’s just for females to be involved with or what you might think about volunteering, it’s all about the child that you’re doing it for and how proud it will make them feel that you want to be involved with them, spend time with them and make memories for them,”
We know Service Unit 642 is on to great things and we can’t wait to see what their cookie sales look like this year. With thousands of girls to inspire to be business leaders, the hard work of PSM’s really makes a difference. We thank all our awesome volunteers who work behind the scenes to make sure girls have the power to be tomorrow’s leaders.
If you have an inspiring cookie story, share in the comments below!