Girl Scout troops gathered Saturday for a busy day of cookie boot camp at the First United Methodist Church in Gonzales for the annual Cookie Rally.

Girls were circulated through various stations where they taste-tested their renowned baked merchandise, determined their own favorite cookies, played games incorporating cookie memorization, and learned marketing techniques, money management and safety precautions.

More than 200 girls from service units 131 in Prairieville and 132 in Gonzales attended the event, said volunteer Kimberly Schwartz. The Cookie Rally prepares the girls for the much-anticipated cookie selling season.

“Girls start preselling cookies on Friday, Feb. 13. They’ll be at stores from Feb. 26 till the 28th. They sell for three weeks,” Schwartz said.

The Girl Scouts have been selling cookies since 1917, after being formed in 1912 by Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low in Savannah, Georgia. Today, the Girl Scouts boast 2.7 million participants. This beloved tradition, however, has undergone recent modifications and improvements.

This year, the girls had extra information to learn. Recently, Girl Scouts partnered with a new cookie company, ABC Cookies.

“A new company means new names for the cookies,” Schwartz explained. “Plus, there are now new cookies being offered, including Thanks-a-Lot, the Lemonade and a new gluten-free cookie,” Schwartz said.

Girls were undaunted as they passed through their training stations. Skylar Granier, 7, decided her favorite cookie is the Thin Mint, and Cassidy Wittmer, 7, loves the Shortbread. Girls highlighted their favorite cookies for their marketing campaigns. The event, marked by spontaneous outbreaks of song, emphasized smart money management and safety measures.

“Girls learn how to approach a customer, always sell with an adult and never carry cash alone,” Schwartz said.

Sarah Haydel, whose daughter recently joined the Girl Scouts said, “This is my first big event. It’s one big family. It’s one big, cookie-crazy family.”

Cookies are an integral part of the Girl Scout experience. Selling cookies is what sent Schwartz’s daughters and Chloe Bourgeois to Europe when they were in high school. However, there is much more to the organization, said Bourgeois’ mother, Nicole Guerin.

“Girl Scouts have camps throughout the year. Cookie sales are huge, of course. And there’s always a service component,” Guerin said. “One of the goals is to be an organization for girls, by girls. They will be the leaders of tomorrow.”

“We’re just passing the torch,” said Bourgeois.

For more information about Girl Scouts, visit girlscouts.org/content/gsusa/en/about-girl-scouts/who-we-are.html.