Girls in Private Schools Ask, Thin Mints or Samoas?

At New York’s elite schools, membership in the youngest Girl Scouts troops more than doubled this year.

Comments: 118

  1. I think its pushback from the news about the 'Blue School'.

  2. The times seems to have an ongoing morbid fascination with the rich. I recall another piece of investigative journalism that covered the trials and tribulations of women that date bankers and finance warriors -during the downturn...

    Thanks guys -for covering all the substantive events that affect us...

  3. I have many fond memories of Girl Scouts and learned a lot from them in second grade.

    However, have you ever read the ingredients for the cookies?

    Several parents used to go around selling the cookies in my former workplace for their children. In the interest of workplace harmony, I always "bought" a package of cookies as a donation, but said "No thanks" for the cookies. The cookies are full of transfats and preservatives.

    Plus, I don't think parents should go around in the workplace selling stuff for their children. It's embarrassing for the employee, and hopefully for the parents.

    Learned much more from 4-H: How to ride a horse, set up a tent, bake some banana bread, fold a towel, etc.

  4. I am delighted to hear that an organization that provided a sense of female community to my daughters -- now grown -- in a rural setting, can serve the children of an urban setting -- an environment deprived in unique ways of qualities for a pleasing childhood. My mother was a leader, I was a leader, and, should my children ever get around to reproducing, I expect they will be Girl Scout leaders as well. Because it is a lot of fun to sing songs, build campfires -- virtual or real -- and even clean latrines. And the cookies are pretty good -- albeit overpriced.

  5. Girl Scouting is just as good as the leadership; girls long for the chance to show what they can do and Scouting is one of the best programs for encouraging girls. My mother was a leader, I was a leader even though I didn't have a daughter. I was able to pass on the traditions of friendship, achievement, and goodwill to girls whose own mothers didn't take the time to be with their own girls. Girls rule!

  6. I think it's pushback from the news about the 'Blue School'.

  7. Wonderful!

  8. FYI - When you go to the slideshow linked to this article, the related/linked article is listed wrong.

  9. For many Girl Scouts, camping represents many firsts -- first time sweeping, washing a latrine, cleaning up after a meal, sleeping in the outdoors.

    There are few organizations that emphasize personal responsibility and respect for others the way Girls Scouts does. Most parents love the fact that these values are the driving force behind their daughters' activities.

  10. the more things change...

  11. hopefully the girls will be taken on other field trips that include mixing and meeting people from areas and cultures different from the ones they live in. don't get me wrong, Girl Scouts is fantastic, but they hopefully will make sure they learn that not everyone can buy the mix and match designer wear for photos ops

  12. God bless the girls.

    Love the two little ones in your front page photo -- saucy lasses.

    But I love even more the fact that we guys have made such a horribly, horribly bad mess of things. OK, OK -- there are Condi Rices who lust after high fasion and torture, and Sarah Palins who lust after publicity, and Michelle Bachmanns who lust after sinecure, and Anne Coulters who lust after anything one may say in halter tops -- but these dizzes do nothing to compare to the mess that war-hungry, ideology-hungry, and finance-insane boys have made.

    So bless the little ones. May they grow up to be the new versions we need of Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson, Jane Jacobs, Rachel Carson, Odetta, Buffy Saint Marie, Joan Baez, Billie Holliday, Hannah Arendt, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Bishop, and Marie, Kate, and Pearl and I don't know how many I'm leaving out here in short-list of gratefully-indebted.

  13. Oh call me a cynic but as the mother of a teenager going through the college process, I can't help but think that a long term involvement with an organization such as the The Girl Scouts of America is going to look mighty good on a college application.

  14. I agree with post #2, Is this the NY Times or NY Magazine?

  15. Quick, get the headline! All White Very Very Rich Girls in Very Very Exclusive, Connected Private NYC Schools are Doing Girl Scouts!!

    Explain to me why this is news and why this has anything to do with anything. Meanwhile here in NJ we are suffering from the most hostile, anti-public school Governors I have ever seen, where 3000 teachers have already lost their jobs and programs across the state are being slashed -- elementary music, language, sports, afters and before school programs, class sizes ballooning. That's NEWS. If you were into Girl Scouts, you could investigate whether Girl Scouts are being impacted in our tough economic times and with major school budget slashes. That's news.

    Rich private school girls in Manhattan doing Girl Scouts? My heart flutters. What did the reporter do, call up a friend of a friend? Do the Times owners' nieces do Girl Scouts?

  16. wasn't there a wonderful shelley long movie made about this with merit badges for shopping at the mall?

  17. Will the Girl Scouts become the next "hip" thing in NYC? Will parents see this as a requisite step on the way to Harvard? If it helps the Scouts, I don't have a problem with it -- as long as it doesn't become an exclusive club.

  18. Girls Scouts are one of the better parts of American culture. I'm pleased the NYT covered this story.

    Now, the hard part: are the Girl Scouts able to reach out to the vast number of children from immigrant families? Can the Girl Scouts find a base in the public schools with their multi-ethnic student body? Can Girl Scouting incorporate Muslim girls into this fine American tradition?

    The answer to these questions will determine the future of the Girl Scout movement.

  19. If anyone knows a bargain, its the wealthy.

  20. Girl Scouting has the potential to build character, self-esteem, a habit of service to the community, and lifelong friendships if done right. It's unfortunate that the Times, as usual, casts a snarky spin on wealthy Manhattanites, including these girls who are products of their upbringing (really? we have to sneer at their skin care knowledge?). Cleaning bathrooms was humbling for me at that age too when I went to camp (especially since we had pit toilets); many kids that age of ALL social classes haven't cleaned a bathroom so can we cease the sneering? They're kids, for goodness sakes. Was the reporter cleaning toilets when she was 8 and 9?

    I sure hope these girls get the real GS experience from troop leaders who embrace Girl Scout values of service and respect for diversity (no uniform requirement that discriminates against girls from lower income families, no discrimination against atheists or lesbians), and self-respect. I agree that Girl Scouting is as good as the leadership. However the national council has always been ahead of the game in looking out for what girls need; for instance, in the '70s they sent the clear message to girls that they needed to prepare for a career not just being a homemaker, and a look a back at handbooks of the '40s and '50s shows that amidst the luncheon hostess-type badges were badges like aviator and woodworking.

    My Girl Scout pals from my high school (yes, high school!) days are still my best friends and they're leaders now too. It's a wonderful tradition--done right.

    Again, please, NYT, can't you cover these topics without being smug? I'm not rich but I am really tired of this ridiculous spin on your human interest articles. I don't need to look down on rich people; why do you?

  21. I was a girl scout growing up in Philadelphia; and am a lifetime member now. My two daughters are Scouts in the Bronx (Daisy & Junior). Scouting was one of the very best things in my own life growing up and I'm so glad my daughters can experience it now too.

    Girls Scouts: Where Girls Grow Strong.

  22. So sorry the writer did not mention the new and different kind of programming the Girls Scouts offer that confronts critical issues these youngsters face: relational aggression (mean girls), the demands of advertising, cyber-bullying and other healthy living issues. The casual reader may just pick up on "cookies, camping and crafts" and not the idea of developing girls with "courage, confidence and character."

    Disclosure: Writer is a volunteer board member of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County.

  23. I am an urban creature.

    My idea of nature is a mockingbird. The limit of my tolerance to the ferocity of nature is an enraged mockingbird protecting its nest. As my nature may be, I wish there had been a group other than scouting available when I was growing up. Not that scouting is bad -- it is a wonderful, wholesome activity for many -- but I only made it through the end of Cub Scouts when I realized that advancing to Boy Scouts would actually require me to immerse myself in the very rural environment that was out to kill me in very nasty ways.

    So while I can appreciate the desire to instruct children in wilderness survival skills, not a single one of those helpful tips would be of assistance in an urban area during a crisis. Given that the extent of my venture into the wild consists of briefly driving between two urban points, the ability to skin a rabbit is not often used.

    I recall that knot tying was a major component of Cub Scouts for some reason. And all those knots were designed to provide some sort of support when camping, forging raging rivers, or capturing something for dinner using a snare. I would have been far more amenable to learning those knots if they were combined with the knowledge of pulley systems, duct tape, and a wad of used bubble gum in extracting an engine from a 1968 Dodge Dart using MacGyver-like techniques that did not involve a tree.

    It would be nice if someone would start an organization that practices the core ethos of Scouting, but train its sights (and activities) on the urban child.

    By the way, I hate ticks.

  24. As long as they keep selling me thin mints, they've got my support.
    Seriously, I think this is a wonderful thing and wish the boy scouts just as much success.

  25. It's good that the rich are keeping busy.

  26. What's wrong with these pictures? Anyone???
    We live in a world if you are born with the "right" skin color...truly, the sky is the limit.
    God Bless America.

  27. Adult leadership is important to providing an enriching experience. Be aware of who your leaders and camp counselors are and what they do with the girls. Or better yet, get involved as a parent. Scouting can teach all kids of wonderful values and skills, when quality leadership is provided.

    And parents shouldn't be selling the cookies, that is supposed to be done by the girls - it is not just a fundraiser but a learning opportunity. For the record here, scouts have tried selling "healthier" cookies but few people buy them. Imagine that.

    It would be interesting to see how this group of girls would handle having alternate fundraisers...

  28. I was a co-leader when my daughter was young. All ten girls stayed with the troop until they were in middle school and developed too many conflicting interests. What fun we had! It's way more than cookies, just as Boy Scouts is way more than popcorn. Camping and camps,ice skating and NC State Basketball games, community service activities and community history, even crafting (my co-leader was a great help with that) were all part of learning to become the best person they,and I, could be. All of the girls are in college now. They remember the good times and comraderie and have grown into smart young women. Girl Scouts was good for them and good for me. Now that's a win-win. Best wishes to the girls and their leaders in New York city.

  29. This is the cover story?

  30. Funny, Girl Scouts and their cookies only get press coverage when the rich sell them. Then its newsworthy. So sad...............

  31. To #2 consumer hype... "The times seems to have an ongoing morbid fascination with the rich".

    It's called New York Times, not Trenton times, not "Some poor farming town" times. No surprise that it will write articles about people from the New York City. Many people in our great city are rich, many are financiers and many send their kids to great private schools in the city. Get over it.

    Bernie Madoff's of the world are the exceptions. Most rich people are rich because they have worked really hard and deserve to be rich. So stop beating on rich people as if they have plague and do something productive...

  32. Good news, anything to compete with the high school has-beens who are now trying to extend their childhood making a living pushing year round AAU sports. My daughtes were (and are) scouts who were pretty good at sports. A balance can be had between academics, community service and athletics

  33. Perhaps this renewed interest has as much to do with the economy. Girl scouting is an inexpensive after-school activity that doesn't require much effort or expense on the part of the parents.

  34. response to #2...The girl scouts don't have an income bracket. I joined when I was a kid and most of the girls from my area were as poor as me. The one thing I wonder about though, are they as homophobic as the Boy Scouts? What is their policy towards same sex relationships. It's a nice thought to have an organization that supports girls, but...if I had a gay daughter, I wouldn't want her to have to hide it.

  35. A special thanks to Madelyn Adamson, Susan Copich, Staci McLaughlin, and Mireille Manocherian the leaders of the Brownie troop at Columbia Grammar School; without them volunteering their time, effort, and dedication to the young girls there would be no troop.

    These leaders are showing the girls there are other productive things to do with their time besides watching television, playing electronic games, communicating on cell phones, and sitting in front of a computer. I am certain the troop members appreciate the leaders for being there for them.

    Thank you Ms. Adamson, Ms. Copich, Ms. McLaughlin, and Ms. Manocherian for your volunteer work. Through your efforts you are preparing the girls for a productive life.

  36. Girl scouting- separate but equal?
    How about integrating the private and public troops?

  37. How I agree with comment #2! The NYT simply loves pandering to the rich and self-absorbed. The article you referenced on the desperate plight of trophy wives in training facing life without a rich guy to suck on to in the downturn was Pulitzer material. And now, we get a puff piece on elite play-date trophy wives discovering that Girl Scouts is acceptable enough for their little darlings. Such world-class reportage makes my head spin!

  38. The article makes it sound like the experience is as much for the parents as for the Girl Scouts themselves. Dermatology seminars and "We're oversubscribed already"? Come on.

    P.S. When you buy that delicious $3 box of cookies, only about 50 cents goes to the troop. Most of the revenue goes to the baking contractor and to the higher echelons of the Girl Scout organization. If you really want to help the local troop, give a $1 donation. The cash goes farther, and you'll avoid the calories.

  39. Girl Scout cookies do NOT have trans fats in them -- they were long ago removed from the ingredients, COMPLETELY. Also, I never understand the bellyaching about selling cookies in the workplace. Don't buy them if you don't want to! And most times I've only seen very soft sells -- people just put up sign up sheets for sales on their doors or in their cubes and people can buy them, or not. Same for boy scout stuff like selling wreaths or school things like selling chocolate bars or wrapping paper. Workplaces can easily rein in such fundraising efforts by specifying that no group emails can go out about them or people can't be buttonholed in meetings or something. No big deal.

    Supporting a charity and a non profit like scouting or schools is how we are helping the next generation become productive citizens and active, caring community members. Girl scouting is particularly useful for our generation of at risk girls, bombarded with trash about the need to spend money on clothes and to be skinny, and the over sexualized advertising that is helping them all grow up too fast. Scouting is a good antidote to this. Get over yourself if you're "uncomfortable" with such fundraising in your workplace, and then maybe you can start to see the good the monies are doing to advance the cause of raising a responsible generation of young people.

  40. I am so happy to hear about the growth of Girl Scouts in NYC. One of my daughters spent 10 years in Scouts and the other is in her 9th year. Scouting may seem outdated or uncool, but my girls thoroughly enjoyed their scouting years and have learned to work as a group toward a common goals. And as for the comment against Girl Scout cookies .... don't eat them if you don't want to - get over it!

  41. The draw for girls and the purpose of the organization is selling cookies. As soon as daughters and parents get a taste of it, they move on.

  42. Hooray. There actually is something good in world news. Seems it's been decades since I've heard of anything but Pulitzer sensationalism, war mongering, hate mongering, religious & race bigotery. Yes, from the "News" media and the "talk radio" sickness that promoted itself by demonizing everything else. I'm now retired in the senic Ozark Mtns. As young boy scout it was a great experience. A time when a boy (myself) could catch city bus across town, carying his shotgun, shells, books and leave his shotgun in corner of high school office. Go duck hunting after school. No one thought anything of it. Eventually, as engineer & mathematician,I went to Los Alamos Scientific (nuclear) Lab from grad school. [Los Alamos is now the 3rd most affulent community in america].
    The Los Alamos Sportsmens' Club include mose of the town, the best group of scientists on earth. We taught the Boy & Girl Scouts, High School students how to shoot. We taught the federal DCM (Dept.Civilian Marksmanship)program for all- how to shoot the Garand rifle- rifles & ammunition supplied by federal government. A time when I could, & did, drive to Albuquerque & buy a case of dynamite, cap & fuse and drive back to Los Alamos - the ski club, to break rocks on the ski run just above town. As young boy, every youth got a 22 rifle, saved money to buy a box of "22 shells", most had a newspaper route, had a miner's "carbide" head lantern; hardly even knew what "drugs" were. And spent most of teh time camping, fishing, outdoors rather than watching TV or a stupid PC. Tired of hearing about "terrorists", that don't exist, except to drive us (spelled U.S.) out of their lands. Almost nothing you hear, see in american "news media" is true. By the way, when a boy got out of high school he'd likely had several math courses, history, likely a chemistry class or even a class in basic physics. You got classes in "civics" (the law, the Constitution, etc.) in the 7th & 8th grades. How it all changed - & within the span of a human life.

  43. As a former leader of scouts who attended private schools, I can attest that the girls derive many benefits from scouting, the most important of which is learning to set goals and then achieving those goals. ALL scouts benefit from learning to do this.

  44. The girl scouts is a great organization! Cleaning latrines was such a funny adventure at girl scout camp when I was little. We even had a latrine queen competition!

    As for the cookies.. they are super unhealthy, but I know in recent years they added a reduced fat cookie, so hopefully in the future they can incorporate more options.

  45. New Yorkers are typically very liberal people, so I'm not surprised when considering the liberal path that the Girl Scouts have recently taken. The Girl Scouts exchanged virtue for numbers.

  46. This is a story?

  47. “The only issue that came up was parents saying, ‘My daughter doesn’t like wearing uniforms. Does she have to wear a uniform?’ Of course! We let them choose between a Christian Siriano and an Isaac Mizrahi.”

  48. The mission of Girl Scouts is leadership: "Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place!" That mission should be desirable in urban, up-scale Manhattan schools and as well as the rest of the country. So glad membership is increasing in NYC. Being a leader is one of the most rewarding things I do.

  49. 1. All Girl Scout cookies have no trans fats.
    2. As a girl, I could not be a GS. But now I am a leader and I love it. Did you know that Girl Scouts can go all over the world either with their troop or with other GS groups? When my daughter was 14 she went to an international camp in England for two weeks. Last year we went to Mexico, to one of the four world centers (also in London, Switzerland, and Pune, India.)

    The rich have figured it out; Girl Scouting's programs aimed at building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place, are a great bargain. It works just as well for girls of every socioeconomic class. So if you are a woman who wants to change the world, become a Girl Scout Troop leader.

  50. What a wonderful organization! Mrs. Cameron of San Antonio, I still have great memories and still reap the benefits of all you taught us in the 70's! I must add, Girl Scouts fosters self-reliant, giving, honest,and happy girls and women withOUT excluding members or leaders on the basis of some exclusive definition of "values."

  51. Who cares? Firstly, I can't believe that this is on the front page. Secondly, should it even be in the Times at all. I can't believe that you all couldn't find anything else to cover.

  52. I have nothing against the content of this article. But, Does it need to be published on NY times? It is only related to about 100 "rich" people in this country!!!!! Get a new job JOANNE KAUFMAN!

  53. THANK YOU, TUCSON!! How behind the times is Girl Scouts of America to be teaching wholesomeness to our kids while filling the GS Cookies with Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil and HFCS!! It makes me crazy that it is virtually impossible to purchase healthy foods unless one is in the Whole Foods Market. When will the rest of the world care? I refused to purchase GS Cookies this year.

  54. Nice story. I was a Girl Scout until there were no leaders available to lead our Juniors troop and I was quite dejected. Now I am the den leader of my younger son's 2nd grade Wolf den and am an active leader in the Pack. My husband is the Pack's Cubmaster and my older son is our den chief and an active Boy Scout. There are pros and cons to any organization and these organizations have their share of scandals. But on the local level there is something irreplaceable about scouting in general. There is a low key community feel that no sports, music, or other youth activity can replicate for the kids and adults involved.

    My only advice for those who want to form a Cub, Boy, or Girl Scout troop is to look past the schools for your sponsoring organization if the schools are not open to this activity. Churches and other community organizations are appropriate sponsors. A community center or library can be the sponsor and you can still recruit from the private schools.

  55. I read these nearly-weekly stories on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Manhattan's social and economic elite, but don't know what to make of them. Are they human interest stories. If so, for whom? Are they didactic, in that the social elite is modeling behavior for the rest of us? Like the story of the blue man group kindergarten ($28,000), is this one telling us that the rich are, after all, just like the rest of us? Maybe readers can help me.

  56. Your story says the vests are green, but the photos show the girls' vest to be brown. Which is it?

  57. I was a member of a Brownie and Girl Scout troop during the 1950's and 1960's. Happy to learn that the tradition of scouting is alive, well thriving in the 2lst Century. Brava!

  58. Nothing whatever against the Girl Scouts, here, but why in the world is this story considered newsworthy?

  59. Who cares?

  60. Boy Scouts might find their quest to be an uphill battle in New York City as long as they continue to exclude gays and atheists. No son of mine will be a Boy Scout as long as they continue their discriminatory policies.

    As for the Girl Scouts, they should go back to their old program of actually teaching girls to do things, rather than the current generic "empowerment" program. All the things that made Girl Scouts fun when I was in it seem to be gone.

  61. Thank God for some oldfashioned camping and community spirit. Communing on the internet doesn't have quite the same impact nor does it teach some homely activities, like cleaning up after yourself, baking on a campfire or sharing stories around a fire.
    I was a city girl and it stirred something earthy in us. My friends and I were moved to create our own circle in our own time. Some days we gathered around marshmello toasting in my families basement, wrote in our little books, and planned to make felt articles that we could sell. It was elementary merchandising.

  62. Samoas!

  63. This feature isn't about scouting, it's just another way for the NYT to showcase its endless fascination with the rich & privileged. So these young ladies have suddenly 'discovered' the joys of being a Brownie & Girl Scout, well, bravo. No doubt they'll find it to be an excellent experience. But why is this front pages news? A non-New Yorker reading this paper would think the city is populated only by chic, wealthy, self-absorbed upper east siders or village people. This town needs a newspaper to be cognizant that the true richness of NYC lies in its diversity of race, ethnicity, social and economic class. Occasionally you might want to consider that in your selection of what's fit to print.

  64. "The times seems to have an ongoing morbid fascination with the rich."

    Seriously, though. Aren't there girls-scout troops in Bed-Stuy or the Bronx? And if not, why not. A newspaper which aspires to be the cream of the cream should ask those questions. Who was the editor for this piece? Do their kids go to this school?

    It's every day that you see these kinds of stories in the times, that reflexively appeal to whom the times perceives as their core demographic: monied professionals.

    Even in their classified section, try finding a blue-collar job listing, or an apartment that rents for less than $1000.

    What about hard-hitting investigative journalism. Think about all the tax incentives developers got from City-Hall in the last 10 years, which lead to glass mushrooms sprouting through-out the city, most of which sit empty. Surely there's a story there, but leave it to the times to not look for it. Unless it involves high-end restaurants, Alice Waters, children of privilege, foodies, investment bankers, or some combination thereof, according to the times it's news NOT fit to print.

  65. Such important news - And with the option to comment, no less...

    Go NY Times - You'll be CNN in no time!

  66. i find it disturbing that there is only one child of color in those photos. pictures speak louder than words...

  67. Very intersting - Girls scouts finally realized it is lucrative to tap in to the private schools. My daughter tried to join a troop for 2 years in PA - but as soon as I said she was in private school no one would return our phone calls. Finally I was told on the QT by a leader that GS did not want "private school" kids. Big disappointment for my daughter, and unthinkable for me, who had been a girl scout. That ended our support of Girl Scouting.

  68. All mothers, and leaders please take note: The Girl Scouts SAVED MY LIFE.

    I am the only daughter in a family of nine children. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout. Although I am 82 years old, I still have my badges in my jewelry box. In girl scouts, I learned how to figure out North, South, East, and West according to the sun's rising and setting. "Look to the sun" is the mantra that was drilled into our heads in basic camping skills. I only went once, because i hated camping, but I tried everything at least once. Scouts also taught me not to panic if I were lost, to stay warm by moving, and to climb into a tree to avoid wild animals. It taught me how to build a fire, and that I should not leave for a day trip without food, and water. A Girl Scout is "PREPARED!"

    Sooooooo, as a young adult (25 yrs old, I embarked on a cross country tour across the Green Mountains of Vermont. A surprise and WILD snow storm hit and I became lost from my guide and group. Only they never realized I was missing. The snow covered all trails, ad tracks, and I became disoriented. I trekked for hours and hours and hours, and it was growing darker, and darker. Sure enough, I spotted a Black Bear, who also had spotted me. I had to make a decision. I threw what food I had except for a chocolate bar, for the bear to grab. With that, I took off like an run runner, only on skiis. I headed for the remaining day light, and figured I was heading EAST. That way, I was no longer moving in circles. Darkness began to set in, and I sang to keep myself from panicking. I kept moving, and moving. Soon, I heard a whoosh sound coming from the direction I was headed. I used my matches to lighted a cloth scarf, so I could see a little bit better. I stayed the course, and sure enough I saved myself. The whoosh sound was a highway, with an occasional car. the search party was just on its way out. I give full credit to the Girl Scouts for helping me to figure things out!

    P. S. I also learned to bake up a storm, won all sorts of awards, but, that is beside the point.

  69. I was a GS Leader in a private Christian school for 7 years. (Not all those girls are affluent - some have scholarships and some have parents who make huge sacrifices.) It all began when I walked into the principal's office at the beginning of my daughter's 1st grade year and told her that I wanted her to be a Brownie and inquired about how to get her in a troop. She said, "I have 15 little girls that want to be in that troop, but we don't have a leader. Can you do it?" I had been a GS for several years as a child, so I said I'd try it. I started with 25 girls and continued with them until they were in middle school and sports took up all their time. We had many great adventures and sold tens of thousands of cookies during that time. My daughter is about to graduate HS and when we went to her college admission interview (she is going to major in fashion merchandising and marketing), she told the professor that ever since she was a little Brownie selling GS Cookies she had always been fascinated by why people buy what they buy. I guess all that hard work paid off - she was admitted to the college of her choice!

  70. Why not bring Girl Scouts to the public schools next door? Are the troops organized by school? It could be an interesting way to get otherwise isolated worlds in touch.

  71. Consumer hype in post no. 2 is spot on. The Times knows that the core of its readership is self-centered, avaricious, corporate trough-feeding, baby-boomer yuppies who reside in Manhattan and Bklyn, so it does everything it can to adulate them and their kids. The subtext of this artcile to that constituency is "Do you see how wonderfully the Girlscouts are training your daughters to be self-obsessed little capitalists just like you?"

  72. The best thing these leaders can do for their Scouts is to ensure that they participate in Scouting events with other girls of differing backgrounds in and from neighboring communities. When I was a Girl Scout, in the Bronx, in the sixties, there were some such opportunities during the year.
    (During Girl Scout week, there were special services at Catholic and Protestant churches and at synagogues. I can recall going to St. Patricks and to a Protestant church, and then our leader, a Catholic women, learned she had been doing it "wrong" by having us rotate. She was supposed to hae sent us to our own houses of worship, which disappointed her terribly because she'd been looking forward to visiting a synagogue and exposing the Catholic girls in our troop to something new. I have no idea if this still goes on.)
    It also bears mentioning that the Girl Scouts, unlike the Boy Scouts, do not discriminate against gays, and as a result are no longer welcome in parts of Middle America.

  73. The Girl Scouts are one of the few associations that are effective in continuing to show young woman morals,values,leadership, and unity.It's good to see them going strong. Baden Powell would be proud.

  74. #2, yeah, I know... I have this instinctual desire to slap the little girls in the lead photo for looking so fashionable, blase, and overprivileged. Let me guess, they're headed through private school to Harvard, to Goldman Sachs where they can legally steal millions from people like me.

    Times, could you please focus more on the rest of us? It's getting old.

    Thank you.

  75. Curiously, most of the readers of this article seem to be missing the point...once again, it's about money, and they are focusing on the rich vs lesser endowed people, and blaming the NYT for writing about it..... Interestingly, the families who have underlined the basic premise of this article, JUST DOING SOMETHING WORTHWHILE with their girls, are being blamed for some rich conspiracy over the media. I grew up as an only child of two blue collar workers...they made sure I did something worthwhile with my time off from school...thus- I belonged to the Girl Scouts until the ninth grade. Just observing the codes of conduct of my neighbors, in my now upper middle class neighborhood, I can see that they would have benefitted from some constructive, social interaction, in a group of diverse young people who have a love for the environment, and who do things for the community. Instead, what I have surrounding me, is a concentration of people who are "invidious consumers", jealous of their neighbors, people who have no respect for private property, and could care less about the wildlife that are still struggling to survive in our fast growing area. Their time would be better served if their children did something to better the environment, or, get involved in some sort of volunteer work to benefit the community at large. Instead, their kids wander the malls when they get out of school, and get into all sorts of drinking, and drug problems.

  76. .... Troop Beverly Hills in Manhatten ?

  77. When I was a girl in Brooklyn we had a wonderful Girl Scout troop at Kings Highway Methodist Church in Flatlands. It was run by a delightful woman, Mrs. Humphreys, who was known to the girls as Mrs. B. Every Friday evening she came up with some new and wonderful craft or cooking activity for the girls.
    We went camping in Staten Island (back when it was still a wilderness—at least to a girl from Brooklyn) and on over-nights in upstate New York. I remember making a stew with ground beef and alphabet soup, cooking pancakes on an empty juice can over a "buddy burner" stuffed with newspaper and paraffin, and making "mock angel food" cake from thick slices of bread toasted over the campfire, glazed with coconut and condensed milk. We sat on "sit-upons" made from folded oilcloth.
    I also remember seeing a sky full of stars for the first time at Girl Scout Camp and being struck dumb by the beauty of it. Literally struck dumb, as a matter of fact, since I tripped over a rock and fell on my face because I was walking in the dark looking up.
    Our mothers never, ever sold our Girl Scout cookies for us. Our fathers wouldn't dream of putting co-workers on the spot by hawking cookies at work. It was our job to sell the cookies and we did so—to family and neighbors. We learned to keep track of money and to respond politely if someone refused us.
    It was a wonderful experience and I'm deeply grateful to Mrs. Humphreys and her daughter "Robin" for creating it for us.
    I would imagine that in these troubled times when so many of us are putting in volunteer time when we can't find paid work, that a scout troop might be a good commitment to make.

  78. BTW, last time I looked, and refused to buy, Girl Scout cookies were loaded with hydrogenated oils. I mentioned this to the adults (always female) with the girls selling the cookies, and they were horrified that the girls would actually find out that they were selling something that is very harmful to everyone's health. They actually expected the girls to be ignorant about what they were selling--obsession with the bottom line starts young. What are the ingredients now?

  79. Also, I must say it's not just the NY Times that focuses on rich people... my two favorite publications are the NY Times and the New Yorker, and some days I believe they're in a competition to see who can publish more profiles of the ultra-rich. No wonder we have so many Bernie Madoffs in our culture.

    We idolize being rich every moment of our day. My client checks his iPhone through our meetings, I swear just to prove we have one; it seems an embarrassment for a woman my age to shop at the grocery store without putting on an outfit and makeup; and if a 7-year-old has anything less than 2 birthday parties he or she acts deprived. I'm just a bit world-weary.

    I find it laughable that these girls call themselves Scouts but don't have to wear a uniform and consider it shocking to clean a latrine. God forbid their generation would have to go to war. As a nation, we're so obese, lazy, undisciplined and unable to cope with hardship, we just wouldn't make it.

  80. I think it's great that the Girl Scouts are making a comeback. When my daughter is old enough I hope she will want to join as I did when I was a child. However, until the Boy Scouts (a completely separate organization from the Girl Scouts, btw) end their policy of discrimination against gays and atheists my son will never join them, or any other group that promotes bigotry and intolerance towards others.

  81. I was a leader for about 15 years for both of my daughters. They both got so much out of it -- horsebackriding, hiking, camping, planning trips and events, fun, friendship -- one troop even went to Europe to the Girl Guide Center there. But the most important thing they experienced: Girl Power. My finest moment as a leader came years later when I received an unexpected call from Iran, from one of my Brownies, now 27 and an electrical engineer back in her home country taking care of the power for an entire island in the Gulf. "I wanted to thank you for teaching us that girls can do anything," she told me. She said she was one of the few girls in her graduating class; she thanked Girl Scouts for her self esteem. That's what we want for all of our girls and boys.

  82. I went to private schools in the 70's and I was a Brownie and a Junior Girl Scout (lost interest after that). My parents were fairly financially well-off, although not in the category of, I am sure, most of the parents of these girls, but I don't understand why there was ever an assumption of a class distinction in scouting. Frankly, I don't remember getting a lot out of it except a lot of cookies (my parents ended up buying all of my cookie quota and they were piled on the dining room table and my Mom gave them to anyone she could pawn them off on). And permission to wear a scout uniform instead of our school joined.

  83. samoas? you mean s'mores?

  84. My favorite Girl Scout troop memory is climbing Mt. Beacon (Dutchess Co) on a beautiful day in June (many years ago!). I would never have done this if not for our troop leader organizing the adventure. I've always felt GS can thrive if they keep up with the changes but hold onto (and introduce young girls to) some of the old fashioned fun activities (like a mountain trek or camping trips with cookouts and funny songs).

  85. I'm glad to see the Girl Scouts expanding their target membership. I find it unlikely and undesirable that the Boy Scouts should follow. Many private schools threw out the Boy Scouts several years back when the BSA showed itself to be homophobic and exclusionary. Recent news shows the problem to be worsening. A huge percentage of their funding is coming from the Mormon Church who backed Proposition 8 in California.
    The Girl Scouts are much more accepting, up to the point of including boys.

  86. I totally agree on the ingredient issue with the Girl Scout cookies. They advertise themselves as "trans fat free," but that's just because each individual cookie contains just under the maximum amount of trans fat (0.5 g) that the government will allow for a serving to still say zero trans fat. What a scam!

    I don't see why they can't just use the unhydrogenated version of palm and coconut oil, which are super tasty and truly trans-fat free.

    In addition, some varieties of Girl Scout cookies also contain high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. So much for the wholesome image of the Girl Scouts.

  87. I was surprised to read this sentence in the piece: "Not surprisingly, the Boy Scouts are hoping to follow the girls’ lead." As the Times has reported in the past, the Boy Scouts of America have a formal policy of discriminating against gays. (See "Boy Scouts Lose Philadelphia Lease in Gay-Rights Fight, By contrast, the website of the Girl Scouts of the USA lists as one of its concerns the bullying of LGBT students. Any Manhattan private school that hosts a Boy Scouts troop should hang its head in shame. The Girl Scouts are far more enlightened.

  88. I suspect the Boy Scouts, given their homophobic and religious fixations, will be a somewhat harder sell in the same environs. In addition to leading my daughters' Daisy/Brownie/Girl Scout troops, I was also a Troop Organizer/Consultant for our local Girl Scout Council. While we had much more stringent safety regulations in place for troop activities and vetted our volunteers much more thoroughly than Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts, we did not inquire into sexual orientation - or the religious beliefs of the girls and their families, for that matter.

  89. Good for the Girl Scouts. As for whether the Boy Scouts will benefit as well, I doubt it. Their firm stance as a religious organization which discriminates against homosexuals really prevents them from being a legitimate organization in the modern day. The Girl Scouts are a much more open and progressive organization and I hope they benefit because of it.

  90. Scouting would be more acceptable to many people if they gave up their religious bigotry and indoctrination of children into their cult of superstition and idolatry.

    Forcing children to promise to "serve God" is child abuse in my book. Children of this age do not have the cognitive abilities to make such promises or pledges.

    Oh, sure, they tried to put a loophole in there - the child can substitute a different word.. but that's not what happens. Children of this age do not want to appear different from their peers. They toe the line, and the adult bigots know that.

    Drop the religion requirement, and I'll happily support these otherwise worthy organizations.

  91. I attended an elite private school in Houston 25 years ago and I was in the Brownie troupe there for 3 years. It seems odd to me that New York private shools are just now finding out how the lessons taught about hard work, friendships, and creativity can reinforce the lessons of the classroom. "Camping" at friends' parent's ranches and selling cookies are some of my favorite childhood memories!

  92. Visits from a dermatologist and Project Runway? Really? How about a waxing and a manicure? I had my Brownies make terrariums and lead food drives for local pantries. But I'm a bridge and tunnel kind of girl.

  93. I was a girl scout leader for 10 years with my own two daughters. I think the resurrgence is great especially in an urban area, whether in a private school or public school. Young girls need strong female role models, particularly now when both parents are usually working to pay the bills. It also is an outlet besides team sports where girls learn to work together to accomplish tasks, and we always incorporated volunteerism in our community so they learned to give back in a meaningful way. You go girls!

  94. "There's a wholesomeness about scouting that should be encouraged," Dr. Seidman, director of the lower school, said. "It may not be quite the thing in the view of our more sophisticated parents, but I think it's great."
    "Sophisticated" is a kind euphemism indeed for such parents.

  95. I'm not surprised these kids are embracing's fun, teaches great team and leadership skills and if it seems a bit old fashioned, that's probably a good thing since too much time spent online and immersed in our 'growing up too fast' media-saturated society is not healthy, not to mention the stress of living in the high-stakes environment of wealthy NYC and the private school elites.

  96. Well, it's good that they'll get the bathroom cleaning experience at least once in their lives.

  97. Oh, and the dermatologist coming to talk about 'skin care' to 5 and 6 yr olds? Why not have the dermatologist talk about becoming a doctor to these kids? They'd probably be more interested in knowing about becoming a doctor than in knowing how to take care of their skin.

    Aside from that, it is all fine. But I would be more interested in reading about Girl Scout participation among the poorer children of NYC -- I think it can be a great galvanizing force for many of these girls, and would like to see how the Girl Scouts Association and the less privileged neighborhoods/schools of NYC work together.

  98. Those ten year old Chapin girls really know how to maintain their skin! Never too early to try to reverse the aging process. Thanks for once again hammering us over the head about the abundance of resources available to the wealthy. Getting your child into a good school in New York City is a heart-wrenching obstacle, and no one needs to be reminded about the frivolous, troop beverly hills-esque activities that go on in these perversely expensive institutions.

  99. Front-page news? Why would anyone possibly care about this?

  100. This movie was made in 1989: Troop Beverly Hills. "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping!"

  101. NYT readers have ongoing morbid fascination with motives, unhidden, of NYT editors about well-to-do New Yorkers who are significant in the city and more likely to appear in the Times than the Daily News; awful cookie ingredients; how Brownies should rely on parents' money rather than sell. At least Texans have positive attitudes. No one inhibits anyone from donating rather than buying cookies or alternatively, giving away cookies to hungry friends.

  102. Although I like the story behind this article, that the scouting movement is coming back into popularity, I feel that author wrote in a very condescending way about their subject. Overall, I am upset to see the New York Times turning into a populist paper. The author's word choice while describing the girls, their schools, and their parent's is very negative and really turned me off to the whole article. To the editor, please make sure your reporters stick to reporting and don't degrade the New York Times to nothing more than a gossipy tabloid.

  103. As a recent former insider, I found the Girls Scouts to be little more than a thinly veiled pyramid scheme/cult. The majority of the cookie sale proceeds goes straight to the top; the troop pimping out the girls and their parents keeps only a small fraction. And what else can you call it when you don a uniform, change your name, speak a secret language, perform rituals, separate yourselves from non-member family and friends, and channel money up to your leaders? Troop activities consist primarily of eating junk and playing with junk. Looks as if now they're aiming higher than the traditional poor inner city and religious membership sources. In this organization supposedly promoting girls' leadership, try finding a female camp ranger anywhere in the United States. Find something worthy to do with your daughter, time and money.

  104. Hey folks,thoase cookies did not come from Samoa. The name is S'mores as in 'some more" or do you want s'more?. Great when made over a camp fire. Messy too.

  105. The Girl Scouts must not be very good at advertising their cookies, because my friends and I would all love to buy them but we never know where to get them! Hint: if you go around the dorms in colleges, you'll find a lot of eager buyers.

  106. My daughter was in a troop of girl scouts all the way through school. Each girl had a strong individualistic streak which was accepted and where it was safe to express their sometimes idiosyncratic attitudes and ideas. Almost all earned girl scout gold awards, were involved in community service, and all have gone on to graduate programs. Their relaxed, good humored leader helped them develop into the young women they are today.I buy cookies out of respect for what this program can offer.

  107. As a Brownie many years ago, I was disturbed by the requirement to earn badges doing activities in which I had no interest and eventually dropped out. Later as a Girl Scout, I was disturbed by the requirement that we sell the cookies. It felt like we had been enrolled in some kind of competitive slave labor camp or was supposed to pretend to be a junior chamber of commerce representative. I ultimately dropped out of that too. Perhaps some little girls enjoyed it but for me, it was definitely something that my mother enjoyed far more than I did. My mom loved going on the camp sleep-outs and participating in the sing-alongs and doing the activities that would earn the badges and called people to buy the cookies while I was just looking for a quiet place to read my books and write in my journal and daydream for a completely different future...

  108. I was a Brownie & a Girl Scout, and my mother, a Brooklyn schoolteacher, was the Brownie troop leader (not a good thing for me, actually). I loved scouting, earned 20 merit badges, loved our trips to faraway Central Park. (I did object to precisely the "grooming" and clothing-oriented nonsense lauded in the article. I wanted SCOUTING, like the boys.) I don't much care to think about the Anglophilic/ militaristic origins of the scouting movement (which is why I kept my son out of it), but only that it served immigrants and immigrants' children, aiding them in learning the ins and outs of American citizenship. I don't care a whit about the private school kids (nice for them to get to enjoy scouting), but I DO care that Girl Scouts STILL serve the poor and underserved; that's why I donate money to them regularly. But let's not jump to including the Boy Scouts: they are still homophobic, while the Girl Scouts most certainly are not.

  109. I have some experience in being one of the adults accompanying children to week-long programs of this sort, and children in urbanized areas (basically everyone who spends the whole day inside) are really deprived of all such activities. Our group loved making simple kites, flying their kites, playing a scavenger hunt game with tree species, participating in a discussion, birdwatching, patiently listening to a PowerPoint presentation, and just walking in nature from one place to another as a large loose group. I guess part of appeal was that they were not hurried to do everything quickly and in the same way as everyone else (as I suspect those piano lessons and tennis and homework are imposing upon them). I think ANY activity and field trip is a plus for their well-being, especially when you consider the only alternative of sitting inside with a gadget.

    Regarding the cookies, our culture never included this cookie selling from door to door. In the olden times, everybody's mother just made their own cookies, and there is even an old cookbook including the recipes invented by "rich" mothers (with fancy/posh ingredients). Today you can buy tasty, appealing factory-made cookies (even some of the healthy kind) in any corner store* so you don't need to wait for girl scouts to appear.

    *our large supermarket chains studied the market and decided that in addition to large hypermarkets in malls it is economically advisable to have tiny mini-market stores at the corner of each block.

  110. s'mores are the graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate goodies made over the fire when camping. Samoas are the coconut & chocolate-drizzled cookies sold by the Girl Scouts. Support your local troop, and buy some Samoas!

    "Hey folks,those cookies did not come from Samoa. The name is S'mores as in 'some more" or do you want s'more?. Great when made over a camp fire. Messy too."

  111. I have a few different comments to make that are unrelated.

    First, to clear this up, the "samoa" is a branded Girl Scout cookie that they sell with coconut flakes on it, I believe. It is a different thing from the "s'more".

    Second, to those people upset about the BSA. In America, the two groups are totally different organizations. Supporting the Girl Scouts is not the same as supporting the Boy Scouts.

    If you have boys, or are concerned about the religious aspect in either scouting movement, I suggest you look into alternate scouting organizations. For example, Campfire USA (formerly Campfire Girls and Boys) accepts both boys and girls and does not concern itself with faith one way or another, Spiral Scouts is geared towards Pagan kids, etc.

    There are many more options than just the big two. (This is not to criticize people who chose either of the more well-known options, either.)

    Finally, looking at the pictures of the classroom - wow! All those white kids, and one (one!) black child in the whole troop? Presumably all the other non-white kids in the school were just slower to sign up, right? Even if I got rich, I don't think I'd send my (hypothetical) kids there. Whatever happened to even token diversity?

  112. I didn't get a *thing* out of being in the Girl Scouts. The only thing I remember from it is being forced to sell cookies. I begged my Mother to let me quit, and when she finally let me, I was so relieved. All I remember from it was eating & cleaning up after. (and, the cookie drive)

  113. I did not have the enlightening, life-transforming experience of being a Brownie or a Girl Scout. My parents saw something suspicious in the uniforms and the false-sounding cheeriness, as well as the cliquish nature of some of the parents. Instead I started to draw and write more on my own, and went on long hikes with my parents. I learned to appreciate nature, art, and writing at my own pace, instead of going around selling cookies and learning how to socially navigate. I don't know what would have affected me more-- being a Girl Scout, or having the childhood I ended up having. While I don't have any qualms against organizations like the Girl Scouts I'm glad my parents chose the latter.

  114. Isn't the real story here about the blurring line between activities for the elite and the masses? Those, like Brownies and Girl Scoutes, used to be considered a public school thing and now these activities are moving up the private school ranks. The converse applies too-lacrosse used to be the private school sport and now, it is a standard part of town sports.

  115. I am trying to figure if their is any relation between this article and "The Examined Life, Age 8" article. I am certain there is some type of connection, but I just cannot find it. I know there is an underlining message.

  116. Who knew that girls attending private schools could sell Girl Scout cookies. What a way for their parents to give back. And teach them valuable life skills.

  117. As a former Girl Scout and leader I was gratified to read this article and the many positive comments. To clarify, Girl Scouts, unlike Boy Scouts, do not discriminate against gay leaders or members, do recruit girls from all backgrounds, including Muslims, and do not require a religious pledge or statements from those who prefer to avoid them. To respond to the cynicism about the wealthy and privileged girls higlighted in the article, the journalist should have made clear what this trend represents. Girl Scouting has most recently succeeded in attracting many more middle and working class girls and girls from immigrant communities than it has attracted the upper class and highly educated. In fact, the biggest recruitment has centered around Hispanic girls. Wealthier groups have, presumably, many other competing activity options with a narrower focus, and may also be less receptive to the traditional values of leadership, service, friendship and female strength, or at least the enrollment numbers implied that. That is why this article is "news," in focusing on the appeal of scouting to all girls and young women. Those who are interested should look at current materials and handbooks which deal with such issues as relational aggression, women's health, science and technology, journalism, business, and social activism.

  118. Lots of people seemed to be concerned that the rich are not news. Like it or not, these "elite" schools have a high probability of nurturing some of this nation's next corporate and governmental leadership. I for one am happy to hear that someone of means has the sense to have their child exposed to the basics of giving rather than receiving, earning a living and being productive, community, and the rigors of latrine duty at least once in their life. These types of experiences are indelible marks for good on the soul.

    I find the coverage refreshing and I'm sure if we do the math, the number of articles focused exclusively on the rich in this type of light is less than the 3% of the U.S. population they represent.

    Rich kids are people too - get over it.

    - Middle Class in Nashville