Veronica “Ronnie” Backenstoe has been a Girl Scout since 1932 and has supported the cookie-selling contingent every single year. She has no plans whatsoever to retire from selling Girl Scout cookies.
As a 98-year-old at Phoebe Berks Retirement Community in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, Ronnie is still part of the thriving Girl Scout community.
“I could always eat some cookies,” Ronnie said, according to WMFZ-TV. “I became a Girl Scout in 1932! I said, ‘When can I be a Girl Scout?’ My mom said, ‘When you’re 10,’ so when I was 10, I was ready to go!”
Ronnie joined the Girl Scouts in her hometown of Lake George, New York, over eight decades ago, and eventually became a scout master herself, leading the Camp Mosey Wood troop in the Poconos, according to Reading Eagle.
Cookie-selling season officially began in January 2020; in February, Ronnie’s troop joined her at the retirement home for a cookie sale.
Donning her iconic green scouting uniform, Ronnie was joined by Troop 1814 of Sinking Spring who collectively revisited a poem written by the veteran Girl Scout in 2017.
“I was ready to be prepared, to obey orders, to be courteous, cheerful, and clean in thought, word, and deed,” the poem read. “The Girl Scouts had planted a seed.”
Troop leader Barbara Allen Perelli, who attended the cookie sale at Phoebe Berks, spoke highly of her colleague’s dedication to scouting. Perelli told WMFZ-TV, “Her stamina, her energy, her mind… she’s non-stop.”
Ronnie shared that when she first started selling Girl Scout cookies in 1932, there were only three different varieties. Each box was sold for just 15 cents, a fraction of the $5 price tag that most Girl Scout cookies bear today.
Girl Scouts of the USA’s CEO, Sylvia Acevedo, said in a statement: “The important business and financial literacy skills girls learn through the program are proven to build their leadership skills and position them for success in the future.”
“When you purchase cookies,” Acevedo added, “you are helping girls power their Girl Scout experience and you’re supporting female entrepreneurs.”
Ronnie retired in 1976 after four-and-a-half decades of active scouting. The veteran said she still believes in the Girl Scouts’ mission of inspiring and educating future generations.
“I think that it was just part of living,” Ronnie told WMFZ-TV, “and that’s what really girl scouting is, it teaches you how to live.”
Donna Schudel, Community Relations Specialist for Phoebe Ministries, the retirement community where Ronnie resides, spoke to CNN of her tenant’s many talents. Schudel said that Ronnie can play the organ, piano, clarinet, and trumpet, and can even drive a golf cart around her retirement village every morning.
“Everyone who meets her just falls in love with her,” Schudel said. “She’ll be 99 this year and she’s totally looking towards 100.”
Girl Scout cookies, after all these years, remain emblematic of Ronnie’s consistent support of the group she believes in. Peanut butter “Do-si-do” sandwich cookies are her very favorite, according to Today.
“My husband used to call me ‘The Peanut Butter Kid,’” Ronnie said. “Because I love peanut butter so much!”