The calendar girls get ready for an interview with Howard Stern
NEW YORK CITY–For years the Girl Scouts of America have funded many of their programs by selling cookies. The Girl Scout Cookie Program is as well-known and beloved as Girl Scouts themselves, but in recent years, the leaders of the organization have watched as cookie sales have crumbled. So this year the Girl Scouts offered their supporters an alternative to cookies in the form of a calendar featuring photographs of some of the top Girl Scouts from across the nation in nothing but wilderness-themed body paint. The supporters ate it up.
“This was the first year of the body paint calendar,” says Connie Lindsay, Chair of the Girl Scouts National Board of Directors, “But believe me, it won’t be the last. The reception has been overwhelming.”
This year’s fundraising drive grossed nearly three times as last year’s, mostly attributed to the calendars. Lindsay credits the idea to an unidentified scout who became frustrated at the physical fitness level of the other girls in her troop. The young scout showed the other girls a copy of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which features supermodels wearing nothing but painted on swimwear.
“(The unidentified girl) showed them what real women are supposed to look like,” says Lindsay, “And the other girls got so excited. Before long they were all getting physically fit, some almost starving themselves, so they would look good in body paint. It made me so proud that these girls could understand the importance of a healthy body. ”
The entire troop, with the help of Eugene Hartman, a local amateur photographer, took individual photos in only body paint, which Hartman applied as well. The results, Lindsay says, were stunning.
“The pictures were amazing,” she gushes, “They captured the inherent playfulness of the Girl Scouts, and showed that it’s okay to bare your soul to nature. It was really a cry of independence. We knew immediately that we were on to something.”
Lindsay and the other board members hired professional photographers and hand-picked girls from across the nation to appear in the calendar. The girls were chosen from every program, from Daisy to Ambassador, to represent the physical and spiritual growth of a scout. She says the most surprising aspect of this year’s fundraising drive is how many men helped out.
“By far, we’ve had more male supporters this year than ever before,” Lindsay says, “Men have never really been into the cookies, or, if they have, they let their wives buy them. But this year, the men were coming to us by themselves. It almost seemed like they were nervous. It was really sweet. Almost all of them said that they couldn’t wait for next year.”
“But don’t worry,” she continues, “We’ll still have the cookies. But, ironically, most of the Girl Scouts I’ve talked to have sworn off the cookies, because they all want to be in next year’s calendar!”