Girl Scouts from the Denham Springs, Walker and Watson areas got a head start on this year’s cookie sales campaign during a Cookie Rally held Saturday at Denham Springs Junior High School.

About 170 Girl Scouts from 35 troops, accompanied by parents and adult leaders, were given interactive lessons at stations on how best to sell the famed cookies that are snapped up in countless numbers each year.

Mary Stringfellow, a volunteer troop leader and service unit administrator for the area, opened the session by asking the girls how many had never sold Girl Scout cookies before. About half of the participants raised their hands and Stringfellow assured the eager youngsters that they would all be successful salesmen at the program’s end.

Tie-dyed clad Girl Scouts from Troops 10380 and 10331 opened the program with an original skit introducing the audience to some of the products that they would eventually be selling. The girls sang the “Cookie Star” song written by Stringfellow’s daughter, Erin. One stanza they sang with gusto was, “I never tasted better cookies, those delicious Girl Scout Cookies … I’ve got to get some more in my hand.”

After the introductory program, the scouts began the rounds at the various stations where they learned all about the cookies they will be selling and how best to accomplish that task.

This year’s Girl Scout cookie sales will start on Friday, when advance orders will be taken. Booth sales outside stores, in malls and in other public places will be held for three weekends beginning Feb. 26.

Stringfellow explained that a new baker will be making cookies this year. For many years, the cookies were baked by Little Brown Bakers and this year, a second company, ABC Bakers, will be used. She said that while the traditional flavors will be available, this year they will come with slightly different names. On this year’s menu are the following: Thin Mint, Shortbread, Peanut Butter Patties, Caramel DeLites, Lemonades, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Thanks-a-Lot and Cranberry Citrus Crisps.

A new offering will be Trios, a gluten-free chocolate chip-peanut butter-oatmeal cookie.

Stringfellow said that all cookies will be $4 a box upon delivery. The Trios cookie will cost $5 and must be pre-ordered.

“I can assure you that the cookies will once again be delicious. Purchasing and enjoying Girl Scouts Cookies is a treasured tradition and cookie lovers everywhere really enjoy our cookies. We know that those who buy our treats will again enjoy them,” she said.

Selling cookies has been a traditional way for Girl Scout units to earn money for their many activities. Stringfellow said that after the cost of manufacturing the cookies is factored in, a portion of the profits goes to sustain the Girl Scouts on the administrative level and then each troop retains a portion of what they sell. These funds are used for troop activities such as camping expeditions, learning experiences and social events that bring the girls together.

Stringfellow is quick to point out that selling Girl Scout Cookies is about more than just earning funds.

“We expect our girls to learn life lessons through the sale of cookies. We use the cookie sales to teach the girls about goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics. For example, goal-setting is very important in life. We teach the girls to make reasonable goals on the number of boxes of cookies they intend to sell and then we teach them how to reach that goal. This is a lesson that can apply to other aspects of their lives,” she said.

Girl Scouts who successfully participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program are eligible to earn the annual Cookie Activity Pin. The pin recognizes the “Five Skills” girls learn and practice during the sale and a different colored pin can be earned each year. Scouts on every level from Daisies to Ambassadors also can earn badges representing proficiency in skills including financial management, business planning and more.

To teach the girls proficiency in cookies salesmanship, a dozen learning stations were set up in the school cafeteria. Among the more imaginative was the Knock on Door exercise. Two large black boxes, equipped with doors, housed senior Girl Scouts who answered the door when a young Girl Scout knocked. The sellers were told how to make their approach and instructed on what to do and say as well as what not to do or say. For example, the Girl Scout answering the door asked, “Would you like to come inside?” The novice cookie seller was taught to say “no” in a polite manner. Potential cookie sellers were also instructed to decline invitations for something to eat or drink. All this was done to ensure the safety of the Girl Scouts selling cookies.

At another station, the girls donned cookie costumes to become better acquainted with the cookies they will be selling. At another station, the girls played Cookie Twister, a play on the old game Twister. Landing on different cookie spots helped the young girls remember the varieties of cookies they would be selling. At the Lemonade State, the girls could sip a cup of lemonade and sample one flavor of cookie.

Stringfellow said that she and the other scout leaders from the Livingston Parish area anticipate another year of successful cookie sales. She said that last year her Troop 10331 sold about 5,000 boxes of cookies. “The girls really got into this … it’s fun for them, and they learn so many important things from participating in the sale of Girl Scout Cookies. When you buy a box of our great cookies you are helping some great girls learn some important life lessons…and at the same time you will be giving yourself a great treat, the delicious taste of famous Girl Scout Cookies.”