This article originally appeared on the American Institute for Economic Research website.
As an older millennial, it can be embarrassing to read stories about how my generation is perceived, especially when it comes to money management, but a recent shopping trip gave me hope.
While leaving a grocery store, I was approached by some local Girl Scouts about buying cookies. In the area where you return your shopping cart, they had a table set up with boxes of cookies, a colorful poster about their troop and their financial goals for the year, and an iPad to take credit cards if you didn’t want to pay with cash.
They all had to be younger than 10 and ran the booth by themselves. Their troop leader and parents were nearby enjoying coffee and checking in every few minutes, just to keep an eye on things.
These young ladies embraced selling cookies with creativity and used technology to their advantage. They even had an online option where you could donate “virtual cookies” if you had a dietary restriction but still wanted to support their troop. I was so impressed with their drive that I did a little more research on the organization as a whole.
During “Cookie Season,” girls from Kindergarten to 12th grade can earn badges for learning about different types of American currency, how to budget, how to “talk up” or market their business, and even how to build good credit when they’re old enough to purchase something like a car.
The current Girl Scouts of America are learning more than the traditional survival skills and macaroni art I did in the late 1990s. Across the country, these young women are getting real-life lessons in entrepreneurship, financial planning, leadership, and even computer coding!
Charity Joy, a Daisy Scout from Atlanta, even went viral with her parody of Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” to sell cookies. Her creative efforts not only gave her the opportunity to meet the rap artist, but she exceeded her sales goal for the year—by a lot.
In a country where government intervention often stifles the entrepreneurial spirit, it’s refreshing to see that private organizations are taking the initiative to instill these important values and skills into young people today. (And if you’re wondering, I bought two boxes of Thin Mints and two boxes of Tagalongs.)