So sweet, so well behaved, members of Girl Scout Daisies Troop 43244 presented the American flag. With hands over hearts, the 6- and 7-year-olds recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Each one raised three fingers in the Girl Scout sign, and recited the group’s promise. It was all so orderly — until it wasn’t.
Splat. Splat, splat, splat.
The kids turned rowdy, laughing and squealing, as they sent pies and whipped cream flying. Their target, in a plastic poncho and goggles, was “Miss Tina,” their esteemed troop leader.
Everett’s Tina Fish had made them a promise.
She challenged each girl in her 15-member troop to sell 200 or more boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Hitting the 200 mark earned a Daisy the chance to hurl one pie at Fish. For every additional 100 boxes sold, a girl could toss another pie at the willing victim.
In all, Fish’s little Daisies sold 9,020 boxes of cookies and earned 70 pies to throw.
It was pie-throwing party night Thursday in the parking lot of New Life Church. The Everett church is the troop’s regular gathering place, but they never had a meeting like this.
“Hi Ayla, how much do you like me?” Fish said in a friendly taunt to 7-year-old Ayla Martin-Williams, the first pie-pitcher.
Those first few tosses were tentative enough that ballplayers would call them cream puffs. Fish’s poncho was messy, but not the rest of her.
Then Payton Camacho stepped up to the line — and it was a whole new ballgame. Payton, who plays softball, has an arm. In rapid-fire order, the 7-year-old pitched pies at Fish’s hair and face. One even sailed over the parking lot wall.
“Payton is a softball player, but she’s usually the quiet one in the group,” said Sarah Martin, Ayla’s mother.
Wendi Merkle, 7-year-old Dahlia Merkle’s mom, could barely keep up as she sprayed aerosol whipped cream onto paper plates, creating makeshift pies. Each girl threw one real pie, a mini version of a fruit-filled pastry, while the rest of the pies were made only of whipped cream.
The kindergarten and first-grade girls were too busy giggling and grabbing pies to spend time sharing cookie sales secrets.
“We sold a lot outside Walgreens,” said Cindy Wright, whose daughter, Celine Wright, sold 400 boxes. Wright said her 7-year-old employed sales-boosting tricks. One was a “last-call blitz,” with neon-colored signs, on the last weekend of sales.
This is far from Fish’s first time as a Girl Scout leader. She filled that role when her daughters, Cassidy and Chandler, were younger. Last summer, Chandler Fish was featured in The Herald when she was headed to Washington State University with a guide dog in training. Tina Fish remains involved in that cause, and is raising a Labrador retriever named Jane for the nonprofit Guide Dogs for the Blind. The Daisies have gotten to know Jane, and the dog was there to see her master plastered with pies.
When Fish decided to lead a new group of kindergarten Daisies last year, she thought she would find a parent to take over once the girls were in first grade. “Then I fell in love with my girls. I plan to stay for as long as they go on with Girl Scouts,” she said.
One member of her Daisy troop has a connection to the group Fish led for her daughters.
Girl Scouts recognize Halloween as Founder’s Day. The birthday of its founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was Oct. 31, 1860. Fish’s groups have given gift baskets to the first baby girl born on Halloween at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Six-year-old Keira Therres, now in the Daisy troop, received the gift basket as a newborn.
“With my own girls off to college, this keeps me connected,” Fish said.
Last year, most of her Daisies sold enough cookies to earn stuffed animals. Along with offering incentives for kids, cookie sales help pay for summer camp and uniforms.
Fish said that as her girls mark their “bridging” from Daisies to Brownies this fall, their new uniforms will be paid for by their cookie salesmanship. “The parents really got behind it,” she said.
“Every group sets goals for what they want to sell and why,” said Elyse Hammerly, troop program manager for Girl Scouts of Western Washington.
This year’s cookie season was Jan. 22-Feb. 7 for presales and March 4-20 for on-site sales.
“With this age group, it’s the first time for goal setting and decision making,” Hammerly said. “They’re just starting to learn to play together. They realize, ‘If I help out, we all get to do this.’”
Hammerly describes Fish as a positive influence. “A lot of women stick with Girl Scouts after their daughters graduate, but she’s a rarity,” Hammerly said. “She restarted at the very beginning.”
A rarity and a role model, Fish also is a really good sport.