I wanted that Girl Scout cookie reward patch so badly as a kid. Despite lugging cartons of Thin Mints around the neighborhood in my wagon and using my cute little brother for door-to-door sales, I always fell short. Now I will do my part to help our 250 local scouts by eating as many Samoas, Tagalongs and Trefoils as I can stomach until March 21, when they disappear for another year.

If you missed out on ordering cookies, it’s not too late to get your hands on some of those trans-fat free tasty treats. Local troops will be located at different stores in the area selling cookies for $4 a box.

I visited with two troops on cookie patrol and Terrie Gunther, their troop leader and the service unit manager for the Santa Monica Bay Girl Scouts.

The 11-year-old girls of troop 632 have been together since kindergarten when they met at Will Rogers Elementary School.

“We eat a lot of cookies,” Tina Flanagan, Emily Krenik, and Madeline Gunther said.

They admit to still having some left over from last year. The girls’ favorites are Tagalongs, Thin Mints and Samoas.

Since 1917, the annual cookie sale has helped fund Girl Scout Council activities throughout the year. Each troop also gets 75 cents from each box of cookies sold to use for their own projects. Troop 632 plans to go to San Francisco where they will transition from Jr. Girl Scouts (fourth and fifth grades) to cadets. Troop 301 went last year as well.

“The trip was amazing,” Gunther said. It maintained her older girls’ interest in scouting. “Middle school is a tricky time in a girl’s life and frequently girls at this age drop out of the scouts. Because of their experience walking across the Golden Gate Bridge and participating in all the Girl Scout activities (badge activities, crafts and just plain fun) in the Presidio afterward, not only did my older troop stay on but they are here, selling cookies so they can return to San Francisco and work the event for their younger counterparts.”

Over her nine years as a scout leader, Gunther has seen the leadership skills of her scouts develop. “The entire program is led by the kids,” she said. “They meet with their leader in September and together they decide which badges they’d like to earn and what field trips they’d like to take.”

The older girls teach the younger ones what they’ve learned.

Scouting also offers new opportunities. “The girls get to try and see things that they don’t get to in school, things their families may not typically do,” Gunther said.

The cookie sale itself offers a learning experience. “The girls get an education in operating a small business,” Gunther said. “They learn about sales goals, marketing, customer service, finance, budgets and more.”

So, if you have a hankering for one of the 3.5 million boxes of cookies that will be sold this year in Los Angeles, you’re lucky that the Los Angeles Girl Scout Council has entered the technological age this year. Just log onto their Web site www.girlscoutsla.org, enter your zip code in the Cookie Locator, and find out when and where booths will be set up near you.

Gunther’s advice for those interested in joining the Girl Scouts: “Look for one of the 28 troops at your local school. If you can’t find one that can take on additional girls, start one. The program really needs parents to step up and be leaders. You need five members to start a troop, so circulate a flyer at school.”

Look for more information on the Web site www.girlscoutsla.org.

Find a calendar with local events, helpful links, and more adventures of Addison, Zora, and Dash at smatoz.blogspot.com.

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