Girl Scouts: Building girls of courage, confidence and character

Girl Scouts is a movement passionate about helping girls empower themselves and investing in our greatest resource.

It’s no secret that empowering women to be confident, courageous, and independent starts at a young age, and there is no one that knows this better than Girl Scouts. An organization dedicated entirely to the development of young girls, this leadership program spans the United States, helping girls find their voice and be confident enough to use it powerfully. And make no mistake, the future is female – boldly and unapologetically.

The Arizona Cactus-Pine Council for Girl Scouts wasn’t officially established until 1940, but the organization has been making waves long before then. When founder Juliette Gordon Low traveled overseas, she saw programs for young boys teaching them to play sports, camp, survive in the wilderness, and basic communication skills. When Juliette returned to the United States, she was driven to create the same thing for young girls. In a time when women did not even have the right to vote, her unapologetic idea that young women should be offered the same opportunities to learn, grow, and experience became her passion and, in 1912, she officially started the very first Girl Scout troop in the United States.

The Girl Scouts are constantly evolving as the needs of young girls change, and no one knows this better than Heather. She herself was a Girl Scout and comes from several generations of Girl Scouts in her family. She talks openly of the lasting impact the program has on women. “What you gain and learn here, it proves to be so valuable later on in life.”

In the interest of making that lifelong impact, the emphasis on education in the Arizona Cactus-Pine Council has grown significantly since the first troop was formed. Girls are being introduced to STEM programs at a young age, in the hopes of inspiring interest and curiosity. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating girls in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach (Source). Helping young girls realize their ambition, talents, and potential, especially in these fields, has been one of the main goals of the Girl Scouts for a number of years.

While important, it’s not all about career development for these young girls. Heather speaks avidly about the importance of creating a safe space for girls – a place where they experience success and triumph, and also understand what it means to fail and move forward. This safe space for girls to learn about self-esteem, explore what motivates them, and learn to grow from failure is what makes Girl Scouts so relevant in today’s society. With the rise of social media, online bullying, shaming, and isolation is a reality most young people deal with on a daily basis. The awareness that not every young girl has the resources at home to confront and deal with these issues further inspires the organization to expand into the community and offer assistance to not just the girls, but their families as well.

The Girl Scouts in Arizona have not been without their share of challenges over the last decade, as they experience growing pains of their own. With the goal to reach more girls comes the need for more volunteers willing to lead troops on a long-term basis. With only about 100 employees, the Council relies heavily on the participation of the community, whether that be parents, friends, family members, or community activists. Along with troop growth also raises the question of space. Securing volunteers, available space for troop meetings, and funds to support the activities for the girls is a constant. As they expand into more areas of Arizona, they’re facing cultural and language barriers, which has meant focusing more efforts on working through a learning curve they hadn’t before. Simply teaching families who the Girl Scouts are and what they provide for girls has potential to be a communication challenge all in itself – it’s a much more involved, relationship building process that is vital to ensuring all girls have access to the best girl leadership program in the world.

The first troop undoubtedly paved the way for what the Girl Scouts stands for today. Sr Manager of Marketing and Communications for the Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, Heather Thornton, explains that change has been necessary for the evolution of Girl Scouts and knowing when to adapt is crucial. Although things have evolved since 1912, the same principals that were so important to Juliette are still the founding philosophy within the Council today.

More effort has gone into marketing and communication in the last few years, using that to build awareness and relationships with the community.

While the challenges of expansion can be tricky waters to navigate, Heather says the Council doesn’t dwell on it for too long – they are in action mode to serve all girls. There are far too many wonderful things on the horizon for the Arizona Cactus-Pine Girl Scouts and the future holds many promising changes. Heather and her team are focusing on seeing the relevancy of the Girl Scouts come to life in Arizona, and from that, the involvement of the amazing community we have increased. The Council’s efforts of expanding into South Phoenix, Northern Arizona, and the Navajo Nation only serve to be as inclusive as possible, reaching every young girl possible, she is deserving of a space to call her own.

Heather’s voice wavers as she describes the impact that the Girl Scouts have on young girls and why she is dedicated to making sure girls in Arizona get the chance to be a part of it. “We want to lay the foundation for girls to be whole, to know they are enough, that they are deserving of positive life outcomes.” Within the borders of our home state, the community of Girl Scouts is teaching girls to support each other, lift each other up, and believe that who they are is exactly enough.

Our efforts, we hope, especially show this cookie season. We want to help budding entrepreneurs to sell 3 million total boxes of cookies this year.

Heather goes on to share that the 2019 Girl Scout Cookie season, which takes place Jan. 21 to March 3, will include more than 11,000 girls in central and northern Arizona selling delicious cookies by walking around neighborhoods and boothing in front of local stores, and, most importantly, learning valuable business and life skills.

The cookie program is one of the most effective financial literacy programs in the world, developing girls’ skills in five key areas: goal setting; decision making; money management; people skills; and business ethics.

These are essential skills needed to successfully navigate life – whether working on a high-school science project, running a household, being a project manager or a company CEO.  Not many organizations offer these key business skills to girls.

Here is a snapshot of the season at a glance:

The Cookie Lineup

  • Thin Mints: Mint flavored (and vegan) cookies with a delicious chocolaty coating. $5
  • Tagalongs: Layers of peanut butter with a rich, chocolaty coating. $5
  • Samoas: Caramel and toasted coconut-covered cookies. $5
  • Trefoils: Iconic and delicious shortbread cookies. $5
  • Do-si-dos: Crisp and crunchy oatmeal outside and creamy peanut butter inside. $5
  • Savannah Smiles: Zesty, lemon-flavored cookies dusted with powdered sugar. $5
  • Girl Scout S’mores: Crunchy graham sandwich cookies with creamy chocolate and marshmallow filling. $6
  • Toffee-tastics: Buttery (and gluten-free) cookies with sweet, crunchy golden toffee bits. $6

Cookie Clarifications

  • The new gluten-free Caramel Chocolate Chip cookie (announced nationally in August) will not be available in Arizona. Since 2014, GSACPC has been offering the equally delicious and gluten-free cookie, Toffee-tastic! A buttery cookie packed with golden toffee bits bursting with flavor.
  • Toffee-tastics will sell for $6.00 a box. Only troops that have opted into selling this cookie will have them, so it will be available in limited quantities.
  • Bakery Confusion: Did you know that there are two commercial bakers licensed by Girl Scouts of the USA to produce Girl Scout Cookies? The GSACPC bakery is Little Brownie Bakers. Therefore, some councils offer different cookies or have slightly different named cookies.
  • There are two Girl Scout Councils in Arizona: GSACPC provides cookies for customers in central and northern Arizona. The 2019 Cookie Season for Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, covering Tucson and Yuma, is Jan. 19-March 3, 2019.


Girls will be setting up a temporary “shop” in front of local businesses and sometimes other locations like sporting events, church and community events selling cookies. Partner booth locations this year include: Fry’s Marketplace, Safeway, Bashas’ Family of Stores (including AJ’s, Food City and Diné Market on the Navajo Nation), Joann Fabric and Craft Stores, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, Goodwill, ASU, and GCU.


To encourage local girls to directly connect with their communities, as well as learn valuable lessons about public speaking, work ethic, and ingenuity, the council is encouraging Girl Scouts to conduct more “Walkabouts.” Through Walkabouts, Girl Scouts are encouraged to walk their neighborhoods selling cookies door-to-door in residential areas with adult supervision and visit cookie customers from years’ past.  It’s also a strategic sales channel in this on-demand economy (kind of like DoorDash for Girl Scout Cookies).

The Cookie Finder app

Visit and use the Girl Scout Cookie Finder to find a cookie booth near you. It’s simple – just enter your zip code and choose from a list of locations nearby. If you want cookie finder access on-the-go download the free Girl Scout Cookie Finder app onto your iOS or Android mobile device from Google Play or the Apple store.

Digital Cookie

The Girl Scout Cookie Program goes beyond the booth with Digital Cookie.

Digital Cookie helps take the five essential life skills girls learn through the traditional cookie program to a whole new level—introducing lessons about online marketing, application use, and e-commerce to Girl Scouts, through building their own cookie website and managing their virtual sales.

In addition, girls can use the Digital Cookie Mobile App to accept mobile payments from customers in-person.

6th Annual Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge

For the 6th year in a row, participating chefs from restaurants across central and northern Arizona will go head-to-head to create a winning dessert with one of the Girl Scout Cookie flavors. The participating restaurants are helping promote the largest entrepreneurial program in the world and ultimately investing in their community. Throughout the month of February, the desserts will be sold in participating restaurants and proceeds will go towards supporting Girl Scouting in our community!

During the challenge, fans can visit to vote for their favorite dessert. The dessert with the most votes at the end of the challenge will be crowned the 2019 Girl Scout Dessert Challenge Champion!

The friendly competition provides a great opportunity for local businesses to support and inspire future entrepreneurs— Girl Scouts!

  • Dates: Feb. 1- 28, 2019
  • Participating locations include:
    • The Thumb
    • Rusconi’s American Kitchen
    • Aioli Burger
    • 32 Shea
    • Lovecraft
    • ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
    • PNPK
    • Ocean Prime
    • The Herb Box
    • Proof Canteen at the Four Seasons Scottsdale
    • The Phoenix Ale Brewery Central Kitchen
    • Silver Pine Restaurant at Little America Hotel
    • Jake’s Unlimited
    • Original Gravity
    • Babbo Italian Eatery, eight Valley locations


Where Does Cookie Money Go

Did you know? 100% of GSACPC Cookie proceeds stay local to benefit Girl Scouting in Arizona.

When you purchase Girl Scout Cookies from a young, budding entrepreneur, you’re supporting her success today and tomorrow. This includes individual Girl Scouts and their troops, and all girls Council-wide. Girl Scout Cookies’ proceeds stay in Arizona to:

  • Fund service projects for the community and amazing girl-led adventures for troops
  • Help councils provide Girl Scout programs in STEM, the outdoors, life skills, and entrepreneurship, as well as camps, leadership training and more!
  • Cover the cost of running the Girl Scout Cookie Program, including the costs of cookies, materials, and logistics.


Girl Scout Cookie Entrepreneurs also earn rewards on their individual sales. They can choose to receive incentive prizes or “Program Credits.” Program Credits can be used to help pay for summer camp (Cookies for Camp), membership dues, Girl Scout travel, and other programs and events.

Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine

119 E Coronado Rd
Phoenix 85004