This week’s post is by Leah, a River Valleys Community Partnership Specialist and troop leader in Rochester, who wanted to share a success story from her cookie season. We love that she went beyond the booths with her Girl Scout Cadettes and provided them the opportunity to build their courage, confidence- and financial literacy skills. You can take THAT to the bank!
With “girl-led” echoing in my head each week, it surprised me when I had an epiphany: that I was neglecting to include girls in a very essential part of our cookie program and running a business in general—making bank deposits.
This epiphany came to me on a busy day when I realized that (once again!) my day was filled up, and I didn’t plan enough time to go to the bank before picking up my Cadettes from school for our cookie booth. I did, however, have the money and deposit tickets with me and an hour between when I needed to pick up the girls and when our booth started.
Sitting in their deserted school cafeteria, I split the girls into partners, took out clean deposit tickets (keeping the ones I had already filled out hidden) and went over everything from which column to put currency and coins into finding the check number and amount to record.
*Commence endless question asking*
“Why does the bank need this sheet thing anyway?”
“So you can write ANY amount on a check?”
“What does currency mean?”
“What are these pink and yellow sheets for?” (as she starts tearing the carbon copies apart from the top white ticket)
Needless to say, this was not going as quickly as I had anticipated. But that was OK, because questions = engagement = learning = mission accomplished. So after observing the need for some additional instruction on how to “make 10’s and 100’s” so that counting large amounts of money is easier, the girls eventually came up with the accurate sum for each deposit and recorded their totals accordingly. Next stop, sneak attack on Wells Fargo!
*The financial discussion continues on the van ride*
“Why do we use banks?”
“So if we give this money to the bank, what happens to it then?”
“How do you get the money back?”
“How old do you have to be to get an account?”
“Leah, do you get paid with this money?”
As we pulled into the parking lot, I reminded the girls that this was an office environment that might not be accustomed to people whip-naenaeing, dabbing, or impromptu Beyoncé concerts. The girls knew they needed to wait in line with their partner until the teller called for them, and then simply say “We need to make a deposit,” and hand over the deposit ticket and money.
The tellers were flawless, showing no signs of surprise, and making the typical small talk that we’ve come to expect. They even let me include them in a few pictures to catch these superstar business women in action! All in all, the deposit went seamlessly, and of course, the girls were thrilled to receive suckers—it’s the small things in life!
The Cookie Season can be overwhelming, and at times life-consuming, but this experience reminded me to “work smarter, not harder.” It also showed me how clearly critical our work around financial literacy is. As troop leaders, we need to continually remind ourselves that our girls are central to the movement. Nothing is “too adult” or “too boring” if a routine stop at the bank can yield such excitement!
Leah Fancher is a Community Partnership Specialist and works directly with girls and families in our school-based program called Girl Scouts ConnectZ, where she helps ensure the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is accessible to girls from all backgrounds. She graduated with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from the U of MN, but has always loved working with youth in non-formal education settings. She enjoys spending time at community events, riding her bike, tackling new recipes, attempting to garden, and looking at dog videos online (since she sadly cannot have a dog in her apartment). She always makes time for tea and good conversation.