March is Girl Scout Month and 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting. That means that most Americans probably will buy even more Thin Mints, Trefoils and Samoas than usual.
Girl Scouts have been selling cookies since 1917. I remember walking with my sister as she went door-to-door. I remember posting order sheets on the bulletin board at work to help our two girls sell their cookies. I assisted with delivery, too.
It’s just not fair. Everybody loves cookies, but how many people love a Scout-O-Rama?
I spent seven years in the Scouts — first in Cub Scout Pack 13 at Washington School, then in Boy Scout Troop 34 in Westville. Selling candy was easy; people love candy as much as they love cookies.
But Scout-O-Rama tickets were a hard sell.
Every year, Piankeshaw Council held the Scout-O-Rama in the old National Guard Armory on Hazel Street. Tickets to the fundraiser cost 50 cents each. The whole Armory floor was filled with displays put together by Boy Scout troops. They focused on all things Boy Scout: leaf identification, semaphore signaling, knot-tying, outdoor cooking, flag etiquette, first aid ... you name it, some troop had posters and demonstrations to show and tell. The best displays won ribbons.
For a Boy Scout or a Scout leader, it was one of the highlights of the year. It was always fun to see Scouts from other towns and to see their displays. I grew envious hearing about some fantastic canoe trip to Wisconsin, Michigan, or even far-away Minnesota.
I don’t remember Troop 34 ever setting up at a Scout-O-Rama, but that didn’t exempt us from having to sell those stupid Scout-O-Rama tickets.
Each of us got 10 tickets, so we were expected to turn in $5 cash. Five dollars was major money in 1965. A cute little Girl Scout usually had no problem selling dozens of boxes of cookies to family members, neighbors, and her parents’ friends and co-workers, but who, really, wanted to buy Scout-O-Rama tickets?
The only incentive was the Scout-O-Rama uniform patch, a colorful, embroidered masterpiece that was different every year. Every Scout wanted one, but to get one, you had to sell all 10 of your tickets.
So my brother Pat and I knocked on door after door after door, probably joined, at times, by fellow Scouts Cliff Kinney, Rod Kinney, Jeff West, Bobby Shapuras, Stevie Shapuras, Bruce Cappello, Chuck Wellman, Jeff Nagrodski, Tommy Mitchell, Genie Hart, Rocky Doggett, Jimmy Payne and others.
It went like this:
Boy Scout: (Knock, knock). “Umm. Would you like to buy some Scout-O-Rama tickets? They’re 50 cents.”
Homeowner, mildly irritated: “Some WHAT?”
It often went downhill from there.
We walked all over Westville to unload our tickets. A few kind souls would give you 50 cents and tell you to keep the ticket.
Moral: To give a youngster persistence, exercise and the strength to face repeated rejection … forget the cookies and candy. Make him sell Scout-O-Rama tickets instead.
Danville native Kevin Cullen is a former Commercial-News reporter. Reach him at email@example.com.