It's lunchtime at West Anchorage High School. My friend and I walk over to Carrs Aurora Village to get some snacks. He finds some knockoff Samoas for $2.49. Yes, I remember the price. What was worse, they appeared and tasted the exact same as the real deal. Put the fake ones in a Samoa box and I don't know if I could tell the difference. As much as I love what I do, circumstances like this make my job difficult.
A high percentage of Alaska's 6,000ish Girl Scouts are under 13, but not me. I'm 15. As I get older, the questions and comments get a bit harder than when I was a little kid selling Thin Mints.
Things Ive heard as a teenage Girl Scout
Aren't you too old?
Nope! Though I see where people get this idea. There have been times I've gone with my troop to an official Girl Scouts event and been surrounded by a sea of second graders.
I'm not a fifth-grade girl wearing her sash as expected; I'm a sophomore wearing my troop hoodie, but I'm still a Girl Scout and I can be until I'm 18.
In middle school, many in my troop dropped out. This is a popular time for girls to quit because of all of the new activities that come up, such as sports, academics and social lives. Troops become smaller and some girls continue on their own. That's when they become known as "Juliettes," named after the Girl Scouts' founder, Juliette Low.
Once we hit 18, we can become adult volunteers. The Girl Scouts of Alaska CEO, Sue Perles, highly recommends doing that. She says she'd even like to see the program extended to age 21. Although that type of program is not available here, it can be found in other countries.
Well, I would rather buy my cookies from a younger girl.
Ouch. It hurts, but this happens all the time. My friends and I call this "The Puppy Effect." Everybody loves puppies, but once they get older, they get less attention. From my experience, most people would rather support a younger girl.
While I was doing a booth sale, a woman came up to talk about how she always buys cookies from older girls because she understands. I don't want people to feel bad for me. But looking at the cases of cookies we need to sell and knowing all the good we can do with the funds we raise, I'll take it.
Girl Scouts is lame.
Girl Scouts is one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of my life. Some of my favorite stories stem from the adventures I've gone on with my troop. My troop went to Anaheim, Calif., and Orlando, Fla., to attend Disney Youth Education Programs. Both of these trips expanded my leadership skills and allowed me to reach out and meet new people. Since then I've volunteered at Girl Scout camps during the summer, working with younger campers. Girl Scouts is one of the few things I would highly recommend all girls go through.
The program helps with our confidence and sense of self. Hope Toland, a Girl Scout and senior at West High School, says she used to be super shy.
"And now I just really don't care, because Girl Scouts puts you out there," she said.
So, what do you even do in Girl Scouts?
Contrary to the popular belief that all Girl Scouts do is sell cookies, go camping and make arts and crafts, the program has allowed me to volunteer throughout the community, travel and work on life skills, such as managing finances.
Toland made a good point about what Girls Scouts has done for her resume. Her involvement in Girl Scouts shows dedication.
"It shows you really want to work toward something," she said.
When I graduate, I'll have been a Girl Scout for 12 years.
"Girl Scouts are important because girls are important," Perles said.
"Girl Scouts is an organization that says to girls, 'You are the most important resource we have,' and says to our community, 'This is an investment in our future leaders.'"
Speaking of which, that's me. I can see it now … Quinn for president in 2040. "You'll win with Quinn."
I hope to secure your vote someday, but until then, can I interest you in a box of Tagalongs?
Quinn White is a student at West High and has been a Girl Scout for about 10 years. She's a fourth-generation Alaskan and hopes to become a journalist.
This article appeared in the April 2016 issue of 61°North, a publication of ADN's special content department. Contact 61°North editor Jamie Gonzales at email@example.com.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing