Lillian Heydinger used to be a shy, quiet kid. But after years of participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, that quiet kid has turned into an outgoing, confident teenager.
The cookie program gives Lillian, 14, the opportunity to practice skills she might not utilize in other activities.
“It’s made me a little bit more outgoing with my people skills,” she said. “It’s taught me about money management and how to sort money and keep … a budget.”
And she has thrived in the cookie program. Each year Lillian, who lives in Shelby, Ohio, sets out to accomplish more in the cookie program than she did the year before. She finished the 2018 cookie program with 1,654 packages sold. She crushed that in 2019 by reaching 2,022 packages.
Lillian’s mother, Denise Heydinger, said the cookie program isn’t only about cookies.
“It’s just much more than it appears on the surface. It really teaches the life skills, that’s for sure,” Denise said.
Lillian is now more comfortable at cookie booths and talks to former Girl Scouts about their experiences when they approach her booth. And outside of Girl Scouts, Lillian gets put in leadership positions when she volunteers at activities with younger children.
“Her people skills just have really blossomed and she’ll talk to anyone,” Denise said.
Lillian said her favorite part of the cookie program is meeting new people. She and her mom got to know a certain group of Walmart employees who would come by their cookie booths on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“They would come out for lunch every night and buy cookies every night,” Denise said.
Plus, cookie booths give Lillian time to bond with her fellow Girl Scouts, who she has known since kindergarten.
“I get to do it with my friends too, so that’s always fun,” she said.
Through her hard work, Lillian earned a free session of resident camp. The self-professed Harry Potter fan used her free week to attend the Harry Potter-inspired Molly Lauman School of Magic camp session.
Lillian made potions, was sorted into a Hogwarts house, played Quidditch and more during her six-day stay at camp.
“It was really fun,” she said.
As a troop, Lillian and the other members of Troop 205 have used their cookie proceeds for overnight stays at COSI and top thrill adventures at Cedar Point.
Lillian has also used cookie proceeds to help pay for her Silver Award project, which was to create a Little Free Library in her community. Little Free Library is a book exchange program with more than 90,000 small libraries across the globe.
Lillian knows Girl Scouts has been the first step for so many successful women, including Girl Scouts CEO Syliva Acevedo, who discovered her love of space, science and math through Girl Scouts and become a rocket scientist.
“It just a program that empowers girls and it’s amazing to see all the girls who have … built success off of being from Girl Scouts,” she said.
Given her success with the cookie program, it’s likely that Lillian will follow their footsteps.