You can count me among the 59 million American women who are Girl Scout alumnae.



I have wonderful memories of my first Brownie Scout Troop, my “bridging” to Juniors, and my continued involvement as a “Cadet” into high school. Mrs. Anderson, my troop leader, taught us about team work, sportsmanship, and volunteering, all while showing us how to shoot a bow and arrow, paddle a canoe, tie knots, read a map, identify the constellations — and, of course, sell cookies. When Alex and Harper were babies, I often said a silent prayer of thanks to my Girl Scout leaders who spent hours singing ridiculous songs with us at meetings and around campfires. In throws of fussiness and tantrums, the lyrics and rhythms of those songs provided comfort and distraction to me as much as they did to them.



The Girl Scouts have always been ahead of their time. Begun by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Ga., in 1912, the Girl Scouts were created to teach girls “courage, confidence, and character.” The Girl Scouts have expanded their original mission and are now working to help young women navigate important social issues like physical and mental health, tobacco use, substance abuse, and violence.



Through the years, however, the core values of the Girl Scouts remain the same — to be there for “every girl, everywhere.”



Of course, the signature event of the Girl Scout calendar is the annual cookie sale, which raises funds for local Girl Scout troops, helps send scouts to camp, and most importantly, helps girls understand and practice five financial fundamentals. The Girl Scout Cookie Sale encourages girls to set goals, make decisions, manage money, develop people skills, and understand business ethics.



The Girl Scout Cookie sale, is, as the website states, about “more than what’s in the box.”  As a veteran cookie seller and a dedicated cookie buyer, I agree.



On March 1, local chefs are supporting the Girl Scouts and their mission with a Destin Dessert Fundraiser. Hosted by the Emerald Grande, local chefs will use Girl Scout cookies as their primary ingredient in order to create some delicious treats.  Last week, I had an opportunity to chat with Jack McGuckin, head chef at Bistro Bijoux in Sandestin and one of the participating “cheftestants”.



A self-trained chef, McGuckin began his culinary career in New Orleans, washing dishes. After falling in love with food and the restaurant business, McGuckin worked his way up the kitchen food chain and ultimately to the Emerald Coast as part of the Bistro Bijoux team.   During the course of our chat, it became evident that McGuckin has a passion for his job, and takes pride in and gets gratification from every plate he produces.



“It’s not every job that allows you to create something beautiful 30 or 40 times a night, and I feel very proud that my team and I get to do that regularly.”



McGuckin sees a parallel between chefs and scouting. 



“Good chefs are always learning new things, new skills and new techniques. As a chef, I learn from my international staff and am exposed to new flavors and new ideas about food.  Scouting teaches girls about the world around them and how to take on new challenges and opportunities. At Bistro Bijoux, we pride ourselves on mastering the basics of cooking, like creating great stocks. Girl Scouts are also focused on helping girls master the building blocks of success, and I’m proud to be supporting this worthy cause.“



As for the dessert, Chef McGuckin won’t release any details, other than that he’s using the Savannah Sweets Cookie, a lemon cookie, as the basis of his creation.



Tickets for the event are $50 apiece and available at any of the participating chef’s restaurants,. The full list of chefs are available on the Girl Scout of The Panhandle website http://www.gscfp.org/index.html.



So whether you’re looking to support a worthy cause, or are just looking for an excuse to break some of your New Year’s resolutions, you can’t go wrong with scout cookies or the Destin Dessert fundraiser.



Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at www.emeraldcoasttreasurebox.com.