Dear Free-Range Kids: This past summer Vacation Bible School (VBS) was just plain ridiculous. In order to get my kids dropped off, I had to (in this order):
– Walk them into the building, past no less than 3 “security team members,” complete with walkie-talkies and stern expressions
– Stand in the line appropriate for our last name
– Sign them in next to their name on a list
– Write down the name of the person picking them up
– Be handed their name tags and put them on in the presence of the sign-in crew
– Walk them to their group leader and stay with them until the leader checks their name off on her clipboard
(I have FOUR kids! This new procedure, just to drop off, made them almost 45 minutes late the first day!)
To pick them up, I had to:
– Walk into the building through one specific door, again past the “security team members”
– Stand in line, again, as appropriate to our last name
– SHOW MY PICTURE ID (even though the same people were sitting there as when I’d dropped my kids off 3 hours earlier)
– Sign my name next to the name I’d written when I checked in, then have it checked for a match with the written name and my picture ID
– Retrieve my children’s “claim cards”
– Go to each child’s room and wait in another line
– Show my claim card and wait until the room’s “security team member” matched it with my child’s name tag (I won’t even go into the nightmare we had to go through the day my youngest child’s name tag fell off and was lost before I arrived to claim her!!!)
– Hand over my claim card so it could be ripped up and discarded (so no one else could use it on another day)
– Stay with my child while we went to other areas of the building to collect her siblings, all the while being watched by the “security team members” stationed in every single corner, stairway and hall.
Ridiculous, right? Well, just wait, it gets even better (worse!).
Thankfully, for our fall program, we’re back to the computer sign-in and printout name tags, though I am not allowed to let my 7- and 9-year-old daughters find their own way to class. I must DROP THEM OFF IN PERSON. I also have to print out claim tags so I can get them back at the end of the evening.
But here’s the part that has me on the verge of pulling my kids from the program altogether.
My sons are 12 and 15, and they are allowed to attend without name tags for the first time this year. HOWEVER, they are both “too young” to be in the hallways unaccompanied by an adult during the program hours, and “too old” to be allowed into ANY of the public restrooms if ANY other child is in there. There are literally guards for every bathroom. Kids up through the age of 7 or 8 have to be escorted to the bathroom by not one, but TWO adults (this part I actually somewhat understand; the church is trying to keep the adults accountable by not allowing one adult to be alone in a restroom with a young child, though I think it’s silly that any child over the age of 5 needs to be chaperoned at all!).
But back to my boys, and their bathroom trips. The guard monitors who comes and goes from the restroom. If there is any other boy in the bathroom (with or without a chaperon), neither of my sons is allowed to enter the restroom until the other boy leaves. So now my boys are, at the same time, being treated like babies who can’t find their way around or be trusted to move from room to room without adult supervision, but they are also PEDOPHILES just by merit of being over the age of 11, and male. My boys are also not allowed to enter if an adult male is in the restroom. Even my “PEDOPHILE” boys aren’t safe in the restroom with another “PEDOPHILE,” by virtue of the other one being fully-grown.
I’m truly fed up. My children absolutely love this program, and it would really devastate them if I removed them. I want to so badly, though, just to make the point that normal human beings do not put up with this! The church has never explained to us the reasons for the yearly increases in its so-called “security measures.”
We parents are just supposed to go along blindly, “thankful” that those in charge are always tightening up the rules to protect our kids. To me, all they’re really doing is sending the kids the message that, “We don’t trust you.” They don’t trust the kids to go where they need to be. They don’t trust them to stay out of trouble. They don’t trust them to find their way back to a parent at the end of the evening. And they sure as heck don’t trust any of the tween/teen crowd — over 90% who have grown up in this church — not to molest or harm the younger kids.
So help me, please. How do I go about finding like-minded parents in the church and put a stop to this nonsense before someone does get hurt? My oldest son was absolutely devastated to be told the restroom rules. You should have seen his face when he realized what they were assuming about him! Have any of your readers encountered this? And if so, what were they able to do to stop the insanity??? — Midwestern Jen