Never was it more prevalent to me why it is important for the individual Scout to know why he is selling popcorn than what happened with my son and me last weekend.
My son and I are in our sixth popcorn sale this year. I, like many parents, have seen him grow in his confidence and selling ability over the years through the popcorn sale. He has learned to “Be Prepared” by knowing all of the products, contacting his previous customers that bought last year, and planning where he will sell this year. He then picks an item he wants to buy and what level he needs to sell to get the gift card from the Council prize program to buy this item. Over the years my son has sold between $1500 and $2500 and is usually the top seller in his Unit. Last year was his highest selling year as he was raising money to go to the 2013 National Jamboree at the Summit. This was the big ‘WHY’ he was selling. He raised the money and had a great time at the Summit. He looks forward to going back in four years either as a camper or as staff. I had a fear by him going to the National Jamboree it might make all the other activities in Scouts look small in comparison and after this weekend I may be right.
I am not stating how much he typically sells to brag, but to truly emphasize the importance of knowing why each individual Scout is selling popcorn.
This last weekend my son and I started to go door-to-door to sell popcorn like we have the last six years. My son’s Unit practiced a sales script which was presented at the Unit Popcorn Kickoff just 5 days prior and he had memorized the script. He went to the first door and for the first time I can remember, he froze when the person came to the door. He looked at me and I pointed to his order form. He had a look in his eye of confusion. He turned to the person at the door and stated the script he had memorized. The person kindly said no and closed the door. He turned and looked totally discouraged.
He looked at me and said, “Why am I selling popcorn?”
I stated he needed to pay for his way to camp and to do all of the other things he wanted to do this year in Scouts. He responded, “I was planning on being on staff at camp next summer. So, why am I selling popcorn? The script doesn’t feel right because it is not the reason I am trying to raise money. Last year was easy because I was raising money to go to the National Jamboree. I do not need the money this year.”
I realized at that moment he did not have a good reason to sell popcorn.
I knew that having a reason why you are selling popcorn is the best way to being successful, so we stopped after just one house. My son and I went to the local Starbucks where I bought him a hot chocolate and we started to talk about what activities he still wanted to do both inside and outside of Scouting over the next couple of years. He created a list and then circled the items he could do in the next year. One item caught my attention. He wanted to go back to Yellowstone National Park. Last year, my son and I stopped by Yellowstone for a day on our way back from Mount Rushmore for Independence Day. However, this was listed on activities outside of Boy Scouts. I said we should invite his whole patrol to go to Yellowstone. His patrol usually goes on a 4-5 day hiking trek every summer somewhere within a days drive. I said the only thing that stops us from going to Yellowstone is having money for the gas to get there. All of the other costs are basically the same.
He now had his WHY.
He wanted earn enough money to pay for the gas and park fees to have his whole patrol go to Yellowstone next year. We went home so he could look up the information on the internet and get all of the costs and print pictures of what he wanted to do.
The next day we spent 4 hours going door-to-door and he filled his first order form.
I hope this story helps demonstrate the reason for each individual Scout to sit down with their parents or guardians to have the important conversation as to why they are selling popcorn. Remember to think outside of what you have done in the past and look for new adventures. This opportunity will help not only the Scout but adults as well.