DENHAM SPRINGS — Once again it’s that time of year when lovers of sweets can forget about their almost depleted stash of Christmas cookies and look forward to the rapidly approaching Girl Scout cookie season.

About 200 Girl Scouts from throughout Livingston Parish and the area got a head start on cookie season at the annual Girl Scout Cookie Rally held at Denham Springs Junior High School on Saturday, Jan. 5. The girls, accompanied by parents and Scout leaders, learned about selling their famous cookies at 10 stations where various skills in the art of selling cookies were stressed.

Danielle Bossom, publicity chairman for Service Unit 122 of Girl Scouts Louisiana East, which includes troops in the Denham Springs, Walker and Watson areas, said the rally gives the Girl Scouts information about the coming cookie season, which opens with the pre-order period on Friday, Jan. 11. Patrons can continue preordering cookies through Jan. 27. Cookies will be delivered to the Girl Scout units on Feb. 16, and booth sales at local shopping centers and stores will be held on the weekends of Feb. 22-24, March 1-3 and March 8-10. Cookies can also be ordered on the internet.

“Cookie sales are very important to Girl Scout troops across the nation,” Bossom said. “This is a major fundraiser for Girl Scout units on the local level and also helps us raise funds for our district and for our camps in Louisiana Girl Scouts East. We have three camps, Marydale near St. Francisville, Whispering Pines near Independence and Covington, where our girls can experience the outdoors and the camping experience. The camps need constant maintenance and improvements. For example, groundbreaking will be held very soon for a swimming pool at Camp Covington. The sale of cookies helps keep Girl Scouts financially sustainable. 

“However, there is more to selling Girl Scout cookies than raising funds,” she added. “Selling cookies teaches our girls valuable lessons such as marketing skills, planning, for example how to set up an attractive booth that will enhance sales, goal setting, mathematics, self-confidence … . The girls learn many ‘life’ lessons through selling cookies. Cookie sales are an important part of Girl Scouts for many good reasons.”

Bossom said the money retained by the individual troops through cookie sales can be used for community-enhancing projects. For example, she said that her troop decided to use cookie funds to install “buddy benches” at a school that did not have them. Buddy benches are placed in school yards to facilitate the meeting of a lonely student with other students who voluntarily choose to join the student who sits on the bench.

Bossom, who is also the leader of Troop 10215, said that goal-setting is an important aspect of what her troop does at the outset of the cookie sales season. Her troop obviously was serious about the cookie sale because the group sold 8,000 boxes last year. The number is even more impressive when Bossom explains that she had 13 girls in her troop.

“I know that sounds like a lot, but the girls really got after it and they took a great deal of pride in their efforts. It’s amazing how many boxes of cookies will be sold during the coming months. The girls really get into this,” Bossom said.

This year's cookie lineup includes Thin Mints, Caramel Delight, Peanut Butter Patty, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Shortbread, Thanks-A-Lots and Smores. A new treat will be offered this year — gluten-free cookies. The cookies cost $4 a box ($5 for the gluten-free variety).

The rally opened with a skit presented by older Girl Scouts and was followed with the singing of the Girl Scout Cookie Song. After the opening, participants were divided into groups that were given five minutes to spend at the 10 stations where various skills were taught. The first station was Smores Swaps, where girls made little keepsake pins utilizing safety pins and felt cutouts to make small replicas of the famous Smores treats. Other stations included: Knock on Door, Set Up A Booth, Narwhal Toss and Plinko.

Representatives from most of the 30 troops in the area were in attendance at the rally. Older Girl Scouts manned the stations where selling skills were taught.

Kristen Reed of Troop 10187 in Prairieville, who was manning the popular Plinko station said she has been in Girl Scouts for six years.

“I really enjoy being a Girl Scout because it has helped me to make good friends and build relationships that I think will last a lifetime,” she said. “I have also learned some important skills that will help me be a better person. I am in the seventh grade, and I plan to stay involved in the Girl Scouts through high school. This is something I really enjoy.” 

Bossom said interest in the Girl Scout program remains strong in the Livingston Parish area.

“Our numbers have remained steady, and we have many good, strong troops. Each year, we have many young girls enter scouting, and many stay involved throughout their school years. We have some really good programs that continue to attract young women. Scouting is a great experience for young girls, and I recommend it to parents.”

She explained that the program offers various scouting levels for girls, starting with Daises which is for kindergartners and first-graders. After that, the following scouting levels are available: Brownies, second and third grades; Juniors, fourth and fifth grades; Cadets, six through eighth grades; and Seniors and Ambassadors, high school.

“Scouting is available for girls of all ages, and troops are active is just about every community in our area,” Bossom said. “This is a great time of the year to be a Girl Scout. While we have things for the girls to do throughout the year, the cookie sale season puts a special spotlight on Girl Scouts.”