Girl Scouts: No brownie points for PayPal-using cookie seller

For reasons that may have something to do with ancient mores, the Girl Scouts organization tells an 11-year-old that she can't use PayPal to raise money for the Scouts' "I Care" program.

Oh, people skills are so important. Perhaps the executives at Girl Scouts could use some. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I am always suspicious when people say they care.

Somehow, my first reaction is: "How much?"

So I feel more than a pang of sympathy for 11-year-old Emma Vermaak.

She is not the only 11-year-old to like One Direction. However, she might be the first 11-year-old who thought to use modern methods to raise money as part of the Girl Scouts' "I Care" program so troops overseas could enjoy Girl Scout cookies.

Inspired in her quest, she thought it might be an idea to use PayPal. This system is not revolutionary. It feels like it's been around since Jimmy Carter's time. Yet the Girl Scouts organization seems not to be quite a pal of it.

As SteamFeed reports, the Girl Scouts were terribly happy at Emma's enthusiasm for fund-raising.

The organization tweeted: "Emma! We watched your video. This is what Girl Scouts is all about! You're doing something great and we couldn't be prouder!"

Oh, but they could be prouder. They could be proud of the PayPal idea.

Alas, this appears not to be an approved system for a lass.

The Girl Scouts' "Cookie Business - Think Big" merit badge. Girl Scouts of the United States of America; screenshot by CNET

You might enjoy the Girl Scouts' reasoning. On its Twitter feed, the bigwigs explained that yes, of course, they had heard of the Web.

Indeed: "@emmavermaak01 Girls absolutely can 'market' cookies online: talk abt prices & sale dates, list inventory, take orders, etc."

However: "@emmavermaak01 But girls cannot transact the sale (take payment) online. That must happen in person to build oh-so-important people skills."

Oh-so-important people skills are in oh-such-short supply in our world. It's oh-so-true that young people closet themselves inside closets where they sit all day networking virtually and not working actually.

Yet if doing things via the Web was so oh-so-deleterious to society, why would the Girl Scouts organization have congratulated Emma on Twitter, rather than running along to her house to give a hug?

You might shortly slap your head with a fly-swatter when I tell you that the person who reported Emma's initiative to the powers-that-be was allegedly her own Troop Leader.

Moreover, Emma's bemused mom told SteamFeed that she tried to talk to a local Girl Scouts vice president, who, mom says, told her "that by us helping Emma get the word out on social media, we are not helping her to learn real skills like she does by going door to door."

But Emma is going door-to-door. This PayPal online initiative is an extra.

And if social media doesn't involve real-life skills, why would the Girl Scouts' Web site ask you to follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogger, and Flickr?

It's not as if the Girl Scouts are behind digitally. There's even a Cookie Finder app in iTunes?

I have contacted the Girl Scouts Association to see whether it might revisit this apparently anomalous and oh-so-foot-shooting stance, and I'll update, should I receive a reply.

I can think of several organizations that would be oh-so-happy to have Emma Vermaak fund-raising for them.

Dell might be one.

Update, 11:24 a.m. PT:Josh Ackley, PR manager for the Girl Scouts Association of America, contacted me and disavowed any suggestion that the organization doesn't believe social media is very important.

He added: "We are presently researching how to make it possible for girls to engage consumers in online sales, while continuing to help them develop critical and relevant entrepreneurship skills in the process. As a youth-serving organization, safety is a major concern in everything we do. Also, The Girl Scout Cookie Program is a $790 million dollar girl-led business, and developing the platform to allow these types of transactions online would take many years."

Many years? I wonder. Perhaps they could put Emma in charge of speeding up that process.

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