Vent on supervision/judgement

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Registered: 01-06-2000
Vent on supervision/judgement
5
Sun, 04-27-2003 - 6:57pm
My first grade Brownie troop attended a Camporee this weekend.

All in all, it was very nice. Sponsored by a Cadette troop, lots of good activities - they earned 4 Try Its. Though my troop is young, I was able to consider it as the lodge was left for the Brownies while the older girls used tents outside, and all the cooking was done by the older girls.

So, while I sometimes would not be sure that camping is entirely appropriate for girls this young, I felt like it was a good first experience where most of the dangerous or difficult elements were eliminated.

But - - was so riled up by one thing that happened.

After the campfire, a group of Cadettes came up and invited our troop to play Capture the Flag. It was not on the schedule, was an impromptu idea, I guess. I said no thank you - we were going to take the girls on a short flashlight hike (basically a trip to the bathroom and back up to the lodge with a few stops to listen to the sounds of the night and shine our lights up in the sky and into the trees) and head into bed. The girls seemed to find that a pretty exciting idea (all but one) and we had a good time.

Comparing the two activities - all my girls lined up holding hands with a buddy, with all the adults, slowly walking with their flashlights with the leader of the line saying, "Tree roots here, watch out. Low branches here, look carefully." Or - all the girls split up, running around in the dark where it was highly likely someone would get lost or hurt. Not much of a contest which is the appropriate activity in my mind.

Most of the girls were really thrilled with the flashlight hike, and two of the other moms along agreed with me - but one mom was really angry that I did not allow the Capture the Flag game. Her daughter wanted to play.

But, honestly?? I KNOW it was not an appropriate activity for 6 and 7 year old girls. They should be in our sight at all times. Knowing that they are somewhere running around the camp is not good enough. Frankly - I don't think the Cadettes should be allowed to play this game in the dark either. But I know first graders should not.

She said, "If that is what the Cadette's are planning, then I think we should be doing it. They are 6 and 7 years old for heaven's sake. Lighten up." My point exactly. They are SIX AND SEVEN YEARS OLD for heavens sakes. And since when should I defer judgment to what a bunch of 13 and 14 year old girls think is a good idea??

This mom has publically ridiculed my concern for safety before, and I've about had it.

If she wants to sign up as a leader, take all the training and be responsible for any accidents - more power to her. But I would not be sending my daughter on any trips with her. I think one of the reasons my mom's of first grade girls are even willing to ALLOW their girls on trips this young, is they know I am very cautious. I really resent her implying in front of the girls that I am keeping them from having fun somehow. There are lots and lots of fun things we can be doing - we don't have to choose dangerous ones!

Little side note - we were split into four stations during the day, and rotated. We had enough adults with our troop to send an adult with each small group as it rotated. After the two afternoon sessions, we planned for our troop to meet all together at the bathrooms. We get there, I do a head count, one is not there. GUESS whose group she was from? She was up in the lodge all by herself. So, I guess I will not be taking supervision advice from a woman who can't even keep three girls with her from the station to the bathrooms (100 yard walk max)

Thanks for the venting board....

Really needed to get some of that out, so I can approach it without losing my cool.

Sara

Avatar for cl_ktbugsmom
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 04-27-2003 - 7:28pm
wow, what a card! I'm cautious as well and definatly over cautious when it comes to my troop, especially since they are 4 and 5 years old!

What I would suggest is taking this mother aside and somehow praising her for her efforts in being involved in her daughters life and then suggest that since she is helping so much that she take some training (have course catalog and registration on hand) so that she understand the Girl Scout rules of safety and progression better and send her off with a copy of safety wise. Will it help? maybe or maybe not but the one thing it will do is polietly let her know that in the Girl Scouts there is the Girl Scout way of doing things and the wrong way of doing things (or in other words her way). Hopefully that point will sink in, and if you can ask her to not ridicule you or any member of your leadership team in front of the girls becuase it sends the wrong message about respecting authority.

Youngin

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sun, 04-27-2003 - 7:41pm
Some parents just don't get what work is involved to provide a good experience for their children! I think you should handle the mom directly. Next time she is going on a trip, just be blunt "I know you don't agree with some of my decisions. If you want to discuss something, I would appreciate it if in the future you would do it privately so the girls are not involved. Also please keep in mind that I am the one who has taken the Girl Scout training and I am the one who is accountable to both the parents of the other girls and the council, so I must do what the rules dictate and what I think is safest."

I'm a cop's wife, so no one dares suggest I am over protective, just reacting to reality as I know it and I am so glad I don't have to deal with someone critizing me in front of 'my girls'. Hang in there and stand your ground - it sounds like you are doing a super job.


Elizabeth

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2000
Sun, 04-27-2003 - 7:53pm
Part of the problem though, is it is pretty hard to convince people that something is "not the Girl Scout way" when many of the other leaders are allowing things, or not really supervising girls as I think they should.

Every time we go to a service unit or council event - - - I am apalled by the things I see. I would say that 80% of the leaders are not providing the level of supervision that I would be comfortable with as a parent leaving my daughter. This mom was the direct problem, but the fact that other troops WERE doing this game is what made me look "bad".

But you know - -tonight I was putting Meredith to bed and she said, "I can't believe L's mom wanted us to play that game...." Now, I had not discussed or vented any of this in front of her. I waited until she was asleep before unleashing on dh. So, even my 7 year old seemed to know it was not appropriate. Hmmm...

I think perhaps I need to start avoiding these large group events, and just plan events were I can control the examples my girls are seeing...

Sara

Avatar for homeschooltwins
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 2:13pm
You did EXACTLY the right thing! IMHO, there is no such thing as being too cautious, especially when you are responsible for other people's children. As for the other troops playing that game in the dark, it's the old "jumping off the Empire State building" story all over again - just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean it's right.

(Just an example, in our old troop we did an overnighter at Sea World. At one point we were standing in the dark waiting to get into a building, when our leader started a game of octopus tag. Sure enough, after a couple of minutes, one of the girls fell on the black top and ended up bloody.)

Frankly, I would confront this mom and tell her in no uncertain terms that she might be happy in a troop with a leader who doesn't give a hoot about the girls. Remind her that you have VOLUNTEERED for the leader position and given hours and hours of your free time toward training and the troop. Obviously, the girls and the parents are extrememly happy with you, which is a great back-up to your actions.

You should give strong consideration to mentioning the incident at your SU meeting too. Let the other leaders know that when it comes to YOUR troop, you will always err on the side of caution. In the future, if older girl troops want to do something with your girls, the girls should talk to you first. Or better yet, they should talk to their own leader first, and then the leader come talk to you. Hopefully, the other leaders will "get it" if you state this plainly in your SU meeting.

Good luck!

Homey

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 4:56pm
As a troop leader of a predominately Cadette troop (though we have one Daisy, as well), I would have to say that I agree with you...it was NOT an appropriate game for ANY age level to be playing in the dark. Had it been MY troop suggesting such an activity, there would have been one EXCEEDINGLY angry Monkey on the campground! It appears to me that the leader(s) of these Cadettes hasn't done her job...those girls should have known better, and, if they didn't, their leader should have explained the inappropriateness to them.

I know what you mean about leaders who apparently don't give much consideration to the safety of the girls...we have those in our SU, as well (bad as I hate to say it, our SUM is one of the worst offenders, in my not so humble opinion). The thing is that YOU are trying to do things the right way and this mother is trying to make you look foolish because of it. If I were in your place, I wouldn't stand for it. I would tell her that, as long as YOU are the troop leader, you will do things "by the book" (in this case, "Safety Wise") and suggest that she obtain and read a copy of same. I would also tell her that, in future, if she has a problem with you, to discuss it with you PRIVATELY, not in front of the girls.

Monkey