Uh, Girl Scouts, Isn’t This Form a Little Harsh?

This is the form handed out at the troop my friend sends her daughter to:

Girl hdkikisssi
Scouts may only be released to persons authorized for their care. It is necessary

as a parent/guardian of a Girl Scout to complete this form and return it to the
responsible Girl Scout adult before or at the time of the next Girl Scout meeting. As the parent/guardian of the minor noted
below, you are responsible for her transportation to and from her Girl Scout activities or the bus when a trip is involved. This
should be done in a timely manner. If a girl is not picked up within 15 minutes after the end of a program, a phone call will
be made to the girl’s emergency contact number. After 30 minutes, the police will be called and the child will be reported as

Hmm. I was a Scout and remember the oath:

The Girl Scout Promise

On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,

To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

But I guess helping people at all times stops after half an hour. – L.

See you at the home for abandoned Scouts!

See you at the home for abandoned Scouts!


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120 Responses to Uh, Girl Scouts, Isn’t This Form a Little Harsh?

  1. Katie December 23, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    Wow! I’m a GS leader of a pretty tight knit group. I have never handed out a form like that! But, then again, a parent has never been late that I have noticed. Perhaps the form is in response to an ongoing problem with parent pickup?

  2. Damon December 23, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    okay in fairness… I usually agree with most of what you write. However, as a boy scout leader… I can’t begin to tell you the number of times a scout parent was advised of a specific pick up time… repeatedly… and I and another leader were left waiting, in a few cases up to an hour… awaiting that kid’s pickup. My own children waiting, ready to go home fro school work or bed, myself after a long day at work then another evening or weekend of camping.
    This is…not the scout’s fault. But PARENTS need to recognize that other folks are giving of their time and treasure for the good of the youth and their future…and respect them and their time and be on time for pick up.

  3. Havva December 23, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    My mom was almost always late picking me and/or my sister up from anywhere. Often she flat forgot us. I wonder in this day and age how many times I would have been reported as abandoned and what would have come of it all. I certainly hated being persistently forgotten like that. If it would have taught my mom to actually pay attention it would have been better than being forgotten somewhere every few months, and her being late most weeks. But I don’t think multiple trips through CPS would have been less traumatic than sitting on the curb for a long time and having to work up the courage to ask to use the phone for the zillion time to call my dad at work and have him tracked down to come get me two hours later. But the most compassionate solutions were the parents who arranged car pools including me, and the director who asked my mom to just let her send me home with whoever was available.

  4. Angel December 23, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Wow!! When I was in scouts there wasn’t a pick up it was a walk. I walked to the meetings and home from them. Starting in 1st grade when I was allowed to join scouts. Or my brother (4yrs older) would walk me. By this policy he wouldn’t have been able to pick me up from it. Granted they were only a block or two from my house. And as another commenter said. Many parents carpooled. There were occasions where a parent would be late but I don’t think a leader ever thought calling the cops was an option.

  5. A Reader December 23, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    I get that they want to do something about late pickups. Nobody wants to be stuck waiting for an hour after their job is supposed to be done for the day, and that’s what happens when a parent is late. But holy overreaction batman! There are other ways to incentivize the parents to make every effort to come on time besides threatening to get their kids taken away! My kids’ daycare had a policy of fining parents a dollar a minute starting from 15 minutes past closing time. Now, occasionally, circumstances beyond my control meant I had to pay up. Sucks, but that’s fair, I was forcing someone to stay late after work. But you better believe i was not having daily or even weekly emergencies, because I didn’t want to pay that fine! It was a win-win, because it was enough incentive for parents to do as much as possible to get there on time, but understanding that life happens sometimes and leaving some flexibility for those times, but keeping it annoying enough to think of it only as an absolute last resort, not as an alternate option to arriving on time.

  6. Warren December 23, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Once you word it as a threat, you have lost. They would be told to shove their letter, and given one stating that as it is my responsibility to provide transportation, then I have already complied when they were born with two feet. Thank you and let em walk.

  7. ank December 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    yikes! Sounds like some girl scout troop leader was having a bad day :/ I am the co-troop leader of my daughter’s Daisy troop and I would never send a letter out like that. But if I had mom’s who were habitually late I would probably have a face to face chat. It’s about communicating, people

  8. brian December 23, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    The issue is that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. If it is not a walkable distance, a better solution would be, the kid will be taken to the scout leader’s house and you will have to pick her up there.

  9. Heartfruit December 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    While the wording is harsh and likely a little over the top I do have some sympathy. I’m a Girl Guide leader and while it doesn’t happen often having a child not picked up can put the leaders in a bad situation.

    Our meetings end at 8:30, we have to be out of the meeting place by 9. It is cold in the winter. If a parent hasn’t come to pick up their daughter by the time we’re leaving, you can be sure we are calling the parents and the emergency contacts. We’ve never had to go so far as to call the police but if we were unable to contact the parents I can see how we might be put in that situation. People forget to update their contact information when it changes. Without the parents permission we can’t drive the girl home, or take her to one of our homes to wait. Standing outside in the cold is only a viable solution for so long.

  10. Bill December 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm #


    While that sounds like a solution it really isn’t, it basically allows a parent to use you as free babysitting. What if I have other plans, going out of town etc. Not to mention I do not have permission to take the kid home with me and silly as it may be doing so violates a couple BSA rules. Why are the other parents needs more important than mine?

    Speaking as a Boy Scout leader I can tell you there are parents that have absolutely no respect for you, your family or your time. I volunteer a considerable amount of time to Scouts, I do not want to have to spend more of my time and take responsibility for your child after the meeting/trip is over.

    I have a feeling this particular leader has been taken advantage of one time too many.

  11. Erin December 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    I’m a new Scout leader and I was taken aback at all of the rules that the Girl Scouts have now – can’t meet in people’s homes, transportation releases, and heaven forbid a girl be alone with an unrelated male. I bet if this troop leader had been able to say “if your child isn’t picked up within 20 minutes of the end of the activity, please collect her from my house” there would be no issue. yes, the parents should be respectful of the troop leader’s time but the girl scout rules prevent the implementation of a perfectly reasonable solution.

  12. Beth December 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Boy, if my mom had had to take me to the activities I was involved in, I wouldn’t have been in any. In fact, for many of my growing up years we had only one car; if my mom needed the car for some reason (and chauffering kids didn’t count) she took my dad to work. After school activities were strictly get-there get-home on my own. Usually I biked, but in the winter (Wisconsin), I walked.

  13. Nadine December 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    Reported as abandoned. That means child services and that means an investigation. Because you know…. Every abandonement case has to be reported and investigated , rules are rules!! Families with problems other then child abuse ( changing sheduels at work, poverty, parent with mental issues) would take their kid out of the Girl Scout group while these kids probably need that group the hardest.

  14. octavio December 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    Abandoned? These are children, not broken down cars on the side of the turnpike!

  15. TinaK December 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    I almost always agree with you but in this case I must disagree. This isn’t too harsh for parents who refuse to pick kids up on time. If a parent calls, it’s one thing and when they are consistantly extremely late it becomes another. In the area I live in, this is a real problem.

  16. Donna December 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    I would be willing to bet that this is in response to a small number of parents who are habitually very late. I can definitely see where I would get to this point if I had parents who were consistently coming super late and no amount of talking – I don’t know why there is an assumption that nobody has talked to these parents prior to it getting to this point – had changed the situation. Personally, I would throw the girl(s) out of the troup rather than involve the police, but maybe that isn’t allowed (I don’t know under what circumstances a troup can deny membership).

    “But I don’t think multiple trips through CPS would have been less traumatic than sitting on the curb for a long time”

    But at what point can we stop putting other people repeatedly over our own needs and the needs of our families? Would anyone here really advocate leaving elementary age kids sitting on a curb alone after dark for who knows how long? Of course not, so someone has to stay with those children … and their children then have to stay and wait. Something I’m sure most who give of their time to head up Girl Scout Troups would be willing to do in an emergency, but not something that they want to do every week. At some point, you do get to put yourself first and say “calling the police is not the best result here for this child, but I need to take care of my family and not sit at the Troup Hut until 10pm waiting for irresponsible parents every Thursday.”

  17. Erica Kain December 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    Ugh! I am a Girl Scout Leader and school coordinator for Girl Scouts and I want to be sure to specify this is ANOTHER CASE of a leader who is wildly out of control. None of this out of control, hysterical stuff is from Girl Scout Council, at least in no documentation I have ever seen! I hope potential leaders and scouts aren’t turned off to all of scouting by these reports of rogue leaders and their nutty “safety precautions.”

  18. Jenny Islander December 23, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    So did they CC this to the local PD? I wonder how they feel about being roped into this.

    I wonder if they actually have to answer these calls.

    I wonder if somebody asserting that a child has been abandoned on the grounds that the parent is 30 minutes late is therefore liable to be charged for making a false report.

  19. JJ December 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    My gosh there is so much pressure put on parents. I know it seems like picking your kid up on time might not seem like a lot but things happen. Flat tire. Emergency with another kid. Doctors appointment runs an hour late. Signal problems on the train. Presidential motorcade shuts highway down for an hour. All these things have made me late once in the past. That is where community is supposed to come in–such as your child goes home with another kid until you can get there. But with the added complexity of “pre authorization” you are SOL. So every mundane pick up becomes practically a life or death situation. Get out of the dentist on time or your kid goes to the cops! Oh no, flat tire–your kids are going to the cops! No wonder parents are so stressed out all the time.

  20. Warren December 23, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    To all of you with your understanding stories of your involvement as leaders. I am never late for anything, it is who I am. But to lump me in with those that are, because you are too chicken to speak to the offenders individually is crap. And you would get a strip torn off you.

    I have coached sports and had players parents pull stunts like that. You deal with the individual, period. You do not make blanket, zero tolerance letters for every parent.

    How do you deal with the individuals, you ask nicely. If it continues, you tell the parent that their child is no longer allowed at meetings, practise or whatever, until the parent can get their act together. But you do not threaten or insult the entire group. That is just cowardly.

  21. brian December 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    There is no reason for it to “get to this point” where you are calling the cops. I maybe can see kicking the kid out of scouts after repeated problems with the parent picking the kid up. BUT I can NEVER see a reason to call the police and say the kid was abandoned.

    HOWEVER, in reality, kids with parents who are habitually over 30- minutes late probably have other issues at home. It might be a great opportunity for a scouting leader to step up and help fill that void for a young person. After all, that is really the spirit of how these organizations are supposed to help kids and build community.

    Scouting is not supposed to be an excuse to have the government examine your life and take away your parental rights. No matter how much you inconvenience another parent who happens to be wearing a vest with badges on it.

  22. Michelle Balfe December 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Which Girl Scout Council is this with?

  23. Wombat94 December 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    The thing that I object to is the “call the police” mentality.

    I think the policy would be totally fine if you replaced “report child as abandoned” with “child will not be allowed to continue participating in the Troop”… perhaps some laddered layer of offenses… first offense of 30+ minutes late pickup, child cannot come to the next event, second offense – the next month, third offense – permanent ban.

    This will get the message across to parents, won’t overly penalize a kid for a single time when parents get sidetracked or way-laid on the way to pickup and most importantly won’t involve the POLICE and the GOVERNMENT in a simple matter of people being inconsiderate or inconvenienced.

  24. Donald December 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    I’m a scout leader. I see first-hand the frustration within the organization. The legal hysteria is trying desperately to treat children as an object such as a coat. Only an authorized claim check can retrieve your ‘property’

    Our motto use to be, ‘Be prepared’ and now it has been changed to, “Children are sub human’.

    I’m packing it in soon as a scout leader. I’m instead focusing on bureaucracy that has become destructive like Godzilla attacking Tokyo. The bureaucracy is by far the most destructive force that the scouts face


  25. CLamb December 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    Girl Scouts should not be held prisoner. Any that are should be released into their own custody.

  26. Michelle December 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    I’m sorry. There’s a huge jump from “you are seriously inconveniencing me, and making my life difficult on a regular basis,” to “you have abandoned your child and need to be investigated by the police and social services, who will then decide whether to take your children away from you.”

    My teenagers are part of a group at church that has regularly inconvenienced me by releasing them at different times every week. Because they so often go late, keeping the teens after all the other evening groups have let out and even after the nursery workers have gone home, I often end up standing around in a hallway trying to corral a bunch of tired small children who want to go home. Sometimes for 30 minutes or longer. It’s aggravating. I’ve tried talking to the leaders, but we’ve been without a regular youth minister, so it’s different people every week. I’ll keep at it, and find a solution. But you know what I’m not going to do? I’m not going to call the cops and accuse the youth leaders of kidnapping. Because kidnapping, like child abandonment, is a serious accusation, and a completely inappropriate way to deal with someone else being habitually late.

  27. J.T. Wenting December 23, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Isn’t one thing the scouts are supposed to teach self-reliance?
    And isn’t a key part of that being able to find your own way home?

  28. Nicole December 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    It’s not reasonable to have a child “find her way home” because her parents are late. Home may be 10 miles away. The parent may be late because they had an emergency. That isn’t free range, it’s cruel.

    I think there should certainly be releases for parents who want their child to walk home. There should also be protections to ensure the child who does not walk home is taken care of, as well as protections for the leaders to ensure they’re not waiting an hour or longer for parents to pick up.

  29. marie December 23, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    My parents made me wait to be picked up most of the time. The idea was that my parents’ time was more important than mine and I should wait for them. If walking home is too far, kids could walk to the nearest grocery store, church, park, wherever and wait for the parents there.

    Reading the comments, there seems to be an expectation that children should not have to wait very long for parents because something might happen or maybe that it is wrong to make kids wait. That is silly. Instead of telling parents that kids not picked up “in time” will be turned over the cops, tell the parents that if the kid isn’t waiting on the curb here, to check the library a block over.

  30. Bill December 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm #


    this has nothing to do with the child’s time it is about using another adults time without their permission.

    As far as letting a kid walk to a store etc, well as a leader I can not do that and my own personal feeling on the safety of that are irrelevant. Having the kid walk home on their own is fine, assuming I’ve been informed that is what is supposed to happen.

    This does not read to me like something the leader would do if they can contact the parent/emergency contact because hey emergencies happen. This in reaction to parents blatantly disregarding the leaders time and doing it regularly.

  31. lollipoplover December 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    “After 30 minutes, the police will be called and the child will be reported as abandoned.”

    Way to look out for the best interests of the child.

    I’ve coached youth sports and volunteered for school clubs for years and have dealt with late pickups. I have a roster with emergency contacts. I text the parent, ask what to do or for an ETA knowing traffic can be horrible. I can kick around a soccer ball for a few more minutes or play kids vs. coach. I love the kids I coach, that’s why we have our kids involved in community sports- friendship, fun, and fitness. I would NEVER call the police on a child. If I had a repeat late pick up, I would work out a carpool or alternative arrangement with the parent. Most people want to come up with solutions for their kids extracurricular activities that don’t involve POLICE or CPS.

    To send a notice out to ALL parents in the troop sets such a negative tone for what should be a positive experience. If the troop is having a problem with a specific parent, talk to THAT parent. Don’t send out nasty, overly controlling messages to parents who are just trying to get their kids involved with the community. This is how your loose scouts.

  32. David December 23, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    What if the parent arrives 31 minutes after the end of the meeting and took the child home after the police have been called? Could they be charged with a crime?

  33. lulu64 December 23, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    Even if a parent is chronically late do any of you ACTUALLY think warrants a CHILD ABANDONMENT REPORT or even the threat thereof? Are people’s lives THAT busy and important that they’d rather contact the police than be put out for 30 minutes or an hour? It may be a scare tactic and they may never put it into effect, but I would be outraged as a parent to be threatened with that. Really? There is no possible step between calling an emergency contact and police reports? If a parent is late so frequently that it’s disruptive, kick their kid out of the troop. Scouting is not an inalienable right. It may suck for the kid to be punished for the parent, but better punished by losing some badges and field trips than involving the police.

    I’m going to go ahead and hope that someone is just pulling our leg with this story.

  34. Uly December 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    How odd. Our form simply asks if they will be picked up or not, and I amended it to say that she can walk home so long as it is light out for one and for the other that she can walk home with her sister so long as it is light out. They have to cross two fairly busy streets at rush hour to get home, so no, I’m not willing to have them do it after dark.

  35. Buffy December 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    @lulu64, I would be very surprised if people make up stories to send to Lenore.

  36. bmj2k December 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    OK, parents should be on time. But reporting a child abandoned after a half hour? Let them try this with NYC traffic and they’ll have to report the whole troop.

  37. SKL December 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    My kids’ late room monitor said she’d call the cops if a kid was left much past the pick-up time. I believe her.

    I’m usually pretty good about picking up my kids on time (more or less), but today I forgot I was supposed to go get them from horse camp at 12:00. I realized it at 12:15 and it’s a 15 minute drive. Oh well. They gave my kids a couple extra stalls to clean out and called it good. They did smell rather poopy afterwards (as did my car). I guess I deserved that.

    With the scout issue, I wonder if the problem is that people are afraid / not allowed to give kids rides home or wherever? Or it’s impractical because they have to have specific age-appropriate seats in their car etc.? I mean, I could see not being keen on waiting an hour for another parent when you probably have to go put your own baby to bed or something. It would be nice if leaving a note on the door “Janie’s mom, call ___, I took her to my house” would be an option.

  38. SKL December 23, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    My kids’ scout leaders are scary. I am too afraid to find out what they would do if I left them there too late. But I don’t picture them calling the cops. Actually they make everyone leave their phone number when they drop their kids off, so presumably they would call the parents and then give them a massive guilt trip and perhaps give them a really dirty job to do ….

  39. Dot December 23, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    No it isn’t harsh …it is a reflection of the many hoops volunteer groups must jump to avoid liabilities and personal civil suits against their volunteers.

    As a coach our insurance covered “all authorized activities and functions” we even added a personal vehicle rider b/c of the number of coaches asked & expected to car pool to games …after a local group got hit because one of their coaches was broadsided by a drunk driver while doing a favor and dropping a kid off.

    The 30 minute rule may seem controlling and harsh w/o considering the issues and limitations organizational volunteers face. The majority of issues revolve around parents who enroll their children in activities with unrealistic expectations about the role and services the groups volunteer participants ought to be providing beyond the agreed organizational purpose.

    My all time favorite …we don’t understand or appreciate the difficulties of family time management because…fill in with your favorite excuse, justification or rationale.

    Volunteer groups can’t charge overtime like a daycare facility and are expected to begin/end program meetings per pre-defined meeting times. Volunteer organizations are esteemed as a low cost alternative to expensive private alternatives while their volunteers are denigrated as lowly unprofessional menials placed on this earth for the sole purpose of meeting whatever demands self-entitled budget conscious folks throw at them.

    My first year coaching included lengthly delays after 10/16 practices. The next year the 30 minute rule was added to squad policies. Most parents were on time and a few took advantage post-practice clean up to squeeze in an extra errand etc. Communicated exceptions to the rule were routinely accommodated with only one parent forcing me to actually call the local sheriff to report their child abandoned.

    This parent ignored post practice p/u reminder calls on a regular basis until the day my child broke her wrist and patiently waited till the end of practice and 40 minutes more before I called 911. With the other coach absent that day our groups insurance became a huge factor….I’d have needed to get a certified coach from another squad if my child’s (or anyone else’s) needs were urgent enough to leave before practice ended…so she waited. Dragging the other kid along to the ER wasn’t an option since it would not meet the criteria of group related activity.

    So I make no apologies for defending the 30 minute rule or refusing to accept personal liability for anyone else’s child as a condition of choosing to volunteer in my community.

  40. Dot December 23, 2014 at 9:22 pm #


    This parent ignored calls for two hours and didn’t do herself any favors when she ignored my final call before picking up when the deputy used his phone to call.

    For years I heard how I should have done this or that to accommodate her that day instead of complicating her life with a CPS investigation. The fact is I’d accommodated her too many times and tried to avoid being placed in the position of enforcing the 30 minute rule via numerous calls & msgs to ensure she knew this was a day where my situation had to be a priority over her all too common bs after the fact excuses. The girl freaked out when I asked a football coach to hang with her…she was afraid to stay with an unknown male.

  41. Kimberly Herbert December 23, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    No I don’t think it is harsh. I also don’t think it is directed at the parent that is late one time. IT is directed at people that are always late not 5 minutes late by 1/2 an hour to 3 1/2 hours.

    The school I worked at got out at 2:30. We had parents that didn’t pick up their kids till 6:00 pm. There was after care, with a sliding scale but they didn’t want to use that. It took the principal calling the cops to pick up the kids and their parents dealing with the fall out to solve the problem.

    We had the same problem with kids in various after school clubs. The parents wouldn’t pick up until hours after the club was over. Which meant two teachers were stuck sitting with the kid. They couldn’t even go do work in their rooms because they had no way of having the parents get in touch with them, because front office staff was gone. We had to fight to get 3 strikes rule. 3 late pickups and you were out.

  42. Sara December 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    Eeh, I’d bet there’s precedent for that letter. Some parent who was an hour late multiple weeks in a row causing the poor leader to be stuck out in the cold somewhere. You have to be in the position of waiting outside (or inside) a building for some parent who is uncontactable while you need to be someplace else before you really understand. Some parents can’t seem to notice that their kids aren’t at home (I forgot there was choir today — really, how did you not notice that you were missing a kid at home) or are just fine with using you for daycare because they don’t feel like leaving on time. If you can’t be contacted and you’re not there half an hour after an event is out there’s a huge problem.

  43. marie December 23, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    Something is wrong when the assumption behind all of these rules and insurance policy requirements is that children simply cannot be left alone to wait. Because children CAN wait. They CAN entertain themselves. They CAN interact safely with strangers.

    When I waited (and waited) after school for my parents to pick me up, there were no teachers sitting with me. I was expected to wait. And I was expected to know how to make a phone call if I needed to call my parents.

  44. Emily December 23, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    I can see a LOT of grey area here. Do all the levels of the Girl Scouts have the same pick-up rules, or does it just start out that strict in Daisies, and then gradually relax in the upper levels? Because, you obviously can’t allow a five-or-six-year-old Daisy Scout to fend for herself, but suppose the child in question is, say, ten years old, and lives a block or two away, and could reasonably walk home? Suppose it’s a sixteen-year-old Ambassador Scout who has a driver’s license at this point? Also, Dot, isn’t there any wiggle room in the sports league’s policy, for emergencies? I mean, your daughter broke her wrist, and needed medical attention. Maybe taking the other kid along wouldn’t have “met the criteria for a group activity,” but it was an emergency, and surely the other kid would want her teammate to be taken care of, and not be in pain. Also, what about emergencies on the other end? If the parent doing the pick-up calls and says, “Hey, I’m stuck in traffic/I got a flat tire/my toddler swallowed a marble,” then is that accommodated somehow?

    As for the people who are saying, “Too many late pick-ups = ban the child from the group,” I respectfully disagree. I mean, if the child’s parents are consistently late at pick-up time, then it’s possible that they really don’t care about their child (or they can’t adequately care for their child), so in that case, band/soccer/dance class/Scouts/whatever may be the only island of stability that that child has. I know it sounds silly, but think about it this way–little Jenny never knows when (or if) her mother’s going to pick her up from soccer practice, and her family life is rather chaotic, but the rules of soccer itself never change, the coach is always fair, and she has friends on the team, and that gives her a sense of security. So, a child who’s banned from an activity due to excessive late pick-ups gets punished twice–first off, by being the last one picked up (by a significant margin) EVERY time, having to sit with the leader(s) who are annoyed, but are trying hard not to take it out on the child, and second, by being pulled out of the activity over this, when it was the parent who screwed up, not the child.

  45. Emily December 23, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    P.S., If there needs to be a way to enforce pick-up times, then I think the fine system is a good option, OR the parent could be voluntold to do a mundane task, like say, stuffing flyers for an upcoming event (for example, a Girl Scout jamboree), if they aren’t able to pay the fine. Also, I think that ultimately, the parents’ wishes should be honoured, even if that’s “Let my kid walk,” or “If I’m running late, send my kid home with whoever’s available.” I know it sounds radical, but is it really that sinister, the idea of a child going home with *gasp* the parents of a friend from Girl Scouts or ballet class? That happened to me once in grade one–my mom was late picking me up from school (during a snowstorm, to add to the drama), so my friend and I walked to her house, I called my mom from there, life moved on as normal, and I grew just a little more resilient that day. It turned out that my mom hadn’t forgotten about me; she’d just gotten stuck at some volunteer meeting, but the school didn’t make a federal case of it–in fact, they didn’t even know, so my friend and I solved the problem ourselves, at six years old. Of course, this was before all the crazy pick-up and drop-off policies, when the school didn’t take an interest in how we came and went, or with whom, except for the question of “School bus, or not?” Those in the “not” group were assumed to be walking.

  46. Warren December 23, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

    Do you really think that a repeat offender parent is going to do the envelope stuffing or other task given them as punishment, or even pay a fine? Chances are they are going to tell the troop leader what they can do with their punishment.

  47. Havva December 24, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    Marie, how long did you wait? How frequently? How many times did you have to watch the place you knew and feel safe get locked up. How many times were you still waiting at 10pm at night? How many times did you wait more than 2 hours, how about 3 or more?

    How much hell did you pay if you weren’t waiting in the designated spot exactly when mom/dad pulled up even if they were 3 hours late?

  48. SKL December 24, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    Well, I can understand the need for a rule about what the scout leader is allowed to do with a kid whose parent doesn’t show up. I think they troop parents should get together and decide what that is going to be (or maybe there should be several options depending on the individual family).

    And I can see how outside intervention might be warranted in a case with a parent habitually leaving a young kid long beyond regularly supervised hours. Yeah, something is very not right about that. What is that parent doing? What’s impairing his/her brain? At some point that could warrant a call to the authorities (assuming there has been repeated communication with parents about fixing the problem).

    But making it a blanket rule on a form? That implies it has to be done every time, right? So if I’m driving to pickup and there’s an accident ahead of me on the freeway, and I do my best to let the leader know the situation and apologize and get there 35 minutes late, they have to call the cops anyway? Or if they make a decision to be understanding in that case and not call, how can they justify applying the policy inconsistently?

  49. Papilio December 24, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    I guess that’s another advantage of living in a bike culture: much fewer kids require picking up, as they can come and go by themselves…

    Perhaps there should be a penalty of some sort for parents who are regularly late, but involving the police is waaay too much for something that could be bad luck for one time.
    And of course they could encourage carpooling and have the never-on-time parent do, eh, something other than driving the kids.

  50. Andrea December 24, 2014 at 8:07 am #


    [The sound of America going off the cliff because we are now officially unable to handle our personal business.]

    A message to all you scout leaders who think calling the police is sound strategy: IT’S NOT. The job of the police is to enforce the laws of our land, not to enforce the laws of Girl Scouts or to deal with your private civil disputes. If you have an issue with parents being late to scouts, kick them out of scouts, but don’t waste police time and resources enforcing your own private business issues. Call the police if the child actually has been endangered or is being abused. Don’t call the police because some inconsiderate parents are making you late for dinner.

    Some of the scout leaders on this comment board really make me questions Scouts as an organization.

  51. Andrea December 24, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    The police are not mediators. They are enforcers of law, which they do through arresting people. The fact that this Scout leader is threatening to have parents put in jail for being 30 minutes late is beyond the pale and shows gross disregard for the child (how is having their parent arrested good for anyone)?

    Why not just threaten to kick them out of scouts if they are late? Because if they call the cops on them they can be fairly certain the family won’t be returning anyway, or not in any form where the leader would want them in his/her troop.

  52. Donna December 24, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    marie –

    We know nothing about this individual troup – what ages, where it meets, at what time – to be able to form any assumption as to whether it is okay, even under free range standards, to leave the children to wait alone. Girl Scouts is often a young girl heavy organization that meets someplace other than at school. For example, my daughter’s Girl Scout troup encompasses kindergarten through 6th grade (we currently have no older girls), with the bulk being in the K-3rd grade range. It meets at night (6-7) in an office area of downtown. When scouts is over, there is nothing open within 2-3 blocks. Even once you get to open businesses, they are almost exclusively bars and restaurants at that time of night.

    Are we really going to start advocating for leaving 5 year olds alone after dark in desolate (at least at night) areas for indeterminate periods of time with the only recourse for help being the local bar a couple blocks away? I seriously hope not if we hope to retain any validity as a parenting method. This letter is not from my troup, but we can’t be the only one in America that meets in circumstances where it is not reasonable to leave children alone to wait for parents.

  53. Donna December 24, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    While I agree that the first choice should be to simply kick the kids with offending parents out of the troup, does anyone know if this is even possible? Girl Scouts is a national organization dedicated to inclusiveness with specific rules as to enrollment to follow. I assume that there are valid reasons for removing specific kids from the organization, but I don’t know if the repeated failure of the parents to pick their children up on time is actually one of them. It should be, but that doesn’t mean that it is. If it isn’t, should the entire troup be shut down because a handful of parents can’t manage to pick their kids up reasonably on time?

  54. Emily December 24, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    @Warren–I meant that the repeatedly-late parents should have to either pay a fine, OR do a simple chore for the group. For some parents, paying $10 or $15 (let’s say it’s a dollar for each minute late past a certain grace period) would bite into the grocery/utility/necessity budget. Clearly, the activity leaders don’t want the parents going bankrupt every time they get stuck in traffic, or the city bus is late, or whatever, so the “simple, mundane chore” gives everyone a chance to save face–the leaders, because that way, they still get the message across that punctuality is important, and the parents, because it enables them to get back into Brown Owl’s good graces without breaking the bank. It wouldn’t be perfect, but neither is the policy of “punish the child for the parent’s irresponsibility.” In fact, if a parent was REALLY irresponsible, they could even be relieved that Kiddo got kicked out, because hey, that’s one fewer thing to do each week. I can even see some cases of the parent blaming it on the child.

  55. Dot December 24, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Re marie: The fault lies closer to ever increasing litigation with huge awards for the smallest fault prompting the rules and purposeful avoidance of insurance policy exclusion clauses. As a volunteer what I allow and how I choose to raise my own kids is irrelevant to organizational policies or participant demands. CYA is the first rule of volunteering and CYA doesn’t stand for Civic Youth Association. The second rule is ‘reason’ takes a second seat to retaliatory Discrimination Lawsuits for refusing outrageous demands with participant parents pushing claims of ‘reasonable’ accommodation.

    Re Emily: many people are assuming “As the parent/guardian of the minor noted below, you are responsible for her transportation to and from her Girl Scout activities or the bus when a trip is involved.” is limited to parent/guardian door to door chauffeuring which isn’t the case. The quoted policy doesn’t define ‘transportation’ thus respecting parental rights to define the method of transportation on any given day; with flexibility when a flat tire or popped chain forces a pedal power kid to use the shoe leather express or grab a ride with a peer etc. It allows for ‘courtesy notes’ from helicopter parents while accommodating much more laid back parenting styles.

    The sports league board approved the 30 minute rule after their attorney reworded it as an acceptable squad policy for any coach wishing to utilize it. The rule was never intended as a ‘threat’ or punishment for misbehaving parents. Its purpose was to define a relevant and directly related method to meet our obligation to participant safety when parents ignored their ‘transportation’ obligation.

    Through 11 years the policy resulted in one CPS investigation and proved to be an invaluable resource on more than one occasion…the most memorable was the time a coaches routine p/u reminder call was answered by an official asking for information about the parent killed in an auto accident. The policy allowed the coach to hand off the child to folks with training vs the basket case emergency contact.

  56. Katie December 24, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    I would imagine in this case, late parents are a problem with this particular troop hence the need for a late policy. I’d imagine the release forms have to do with state laws as preschool and day cares are required to have them.

    If a situation arises, call the troop leaded but keep in mind these people are volunteers and parents shouldn’t be taking advantage

  57. JJ December 24, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Andrea, yes!!!!

    It is bizarre to involve the police in such a matter and I think it should be treated like a false burglar alarm–with a $100 fine. Of course where I live in Philadelphia you’d never get the police to respond to such a frivolous call because they are too busy serving and protecting against crime so I guess I don’t have to worry about it.

    What kind of culture volleys all of their inconveniences to the police force? This is all tied together with competitive parenting (good parents are never late and bad parents need the police to get involved) and the self righteous culture of “if you can’t be on time to pick up your kids from activities that you shouldn’t have had kids in the first place.”

    I have to admit that some of the stories I’ve read here opened my eyes to how bad late pick ups can be. But if this troop’s policy is the result of one or two bad actors then kick those bad actors out of the organization. And if it’s not permitted by the Girl Scouts to kick someone out of the organization for such egregious behavior then the problem is the organization. It seems that the organization or the particular leaders here want to make a grand gesture to highlight their righteous indignation.

  58. SOA December 24, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    This is actually fairly standard. I worked at a daycare that had the 30 minute emergency contact rule and then an hour police rule. The schools do the same. I mean how long do you think the troop leader should hang out waiting on absentee late parents?

    They are VOLUNTEERING their time and money to do this club with your kids. It is a lot of work. The least you can do is be on time to pick up your kid or if you are late, call and let the leader what is going on and try to arrange someone else to get your kid. Seems reasonable to me.

    Because I do know plenty of parents that would take advantage of this. If they wanna go out for dinner while sweetums is at her troop meeting and dinner runs long- oh well, they can wait. No, not okay.

    I worked at a dance camp and dance studio and we had the same policy that we started charging the parents after 30 minutes of the class being over if the kid was under 12 for us to watch them unless we otherwise arrange something because we are responsible for them till you come get them but if the class is over we have other kids to deal with and can’t be worrying about kids in the class we are teaching and kids milling around too.

    Its lazy parenting to do that. It is not about free range and more about taking advantage of people.

    I am sure she put that rule in place after multiple parents were uber late with no call and she was stuck waiting around and waiting around on them. I don’t blame her.

  59. SOA December 24, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    These policies also are related as someone else said to CYA. They don’t want to be sued because guarantee if the parent is late and the leader leaves and little Suzy goes missing or gets hurt, the leader will be the one sued. But they also don’t want to sit there waiting on the parent for an hour either.

    I think most leaders would be fine with the parent calling and saying the car broke down can they wait on them? That is not what this is for. This is for the habitually always late parents and I approve it being used on those parents if kicking out the kid is not an option. They may not be allowed to kick kids out.

    I think letting kids old enough that can do so walk home is fine if that is previously arranged. I am okay with sending the kid home with another friend if that is previously arranged. But they can’t just do that without getting parent’s permission. Because if something happens, again the leader gets sued.

    Some parents use stuff like this as free babysitting and will take advantage if you let them. So putting that policy in place just CYAs and that way if the parent is taking advantage over and over-you are not wrong to follow the policy and call police. I doubt they strictly enforce it, but the policy is signed off on and there if they need to use it. I have no problem with that.

  60. David B December 24, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Reminds me of this Albus Dumbledore quote in Harry Potter 1: “Our caretaker, Mr. Filch, has asked me to remind you that the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a most painful death.”

  61. neener December 24, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    No excuse for not picking your kid up on time short of “I was in a traffic accident and knocked unconscious” or “i was in the ER while my other kid bled out”. Even then, emergency numbers are there for a reason, and maybe people should put a little more thought into it. I don’t buy the whole “things just happen” bs. Do you get to work on time every day? If something is keeping you from that, do you move heaven and earth to notify them? So why can’t the same sense of urgency apply when it comes to picking up your children?

    I have been on both sides of this, as parent and as group leader. The excuses you hear will make your head explode, you can talk to them individually to no avail, and then you have the parents who actually do believe their time is more important than yours. The doctors appt ran late excuse is ridiculous…everyone in the free world knows this is pretty common, so plan for it! Have a plan B! Your kids are your #1 responsibility!

    I’ve had parents show up hours late to pick up their kid from a play date and offer no apology, just “oh you know how it is”. Well, no, actually I don’t. I’m on time and if it looks like I won’t be I will make arrangements, and you can be damned sure the emergency contacts are current and reachable in case I am knocked unconscious in an accident.

  62. bobca December 24, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Scouting has strayed so far from its core mission of working to create responsible, ethical, and independent young men and women. The message in this post on FRK illustrates that clearly. Scouts are not capable of finding their own car, parents, or other means of transportation? Sad.

    They are also not capable of going to the bathroom by themselves, meeting with an adult by themselves, sleeping in a tent by themselves, and more.

  63. CrazyCatLady December 24, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    For habitually late parents, what about requiring them to stay the whole time with their sweetums, if they really wanted to be in the club? That way, when it was time to go, the parent would be there. Maybe require it for 3 meetings and then do a trial to see if they would show up on time.

    If handed a form like the one above, I would go to every parent in the troop and have them sign on as an emergency contact. That way, if I got a flat tire or rear ended like I did the other day, I could call someone and tell them to take my kid home. Or, if out of cell service, the last parent there could take my kid.

  64. Laurie December 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    While I totally agree with you most of the time, as a leader of Girl Scouts myself I would be very unhappy if some parent was 30 minutes late for pickup without contacting me to let me know they would be late. I think I would start contacting emergency contacts at that point. I am not a free babysitter, I have already volunteered my time to lead a troop which is a lot of work by the way. I bet this is a response to a few parents who were/are habitually late with pickups. I never have this problem with my parents, at least they contact me if they will be a late and I will either wait at pickup area or bring the girl home with me. If I had parents who treated my time with such disrespect as to constantly add 30-60 minutes to my meetings/events I would probably make them (not the whole group) sign a letter like this.

  65. Amy December 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    I’m a leader of a 2nd grade troop and a co-leader of a 3rd grade troop. You would be absolutely astonished at how many parents think that scouts = free babysitting. I have had a child sent home from school (without my prior authorization or consent!) at 3:15 for a meeting that didn’t start until 4:30. I’ve had parents show up more than 30 minutes late to pick up their kids. And while it hasn’t come to the point where I need to send home a note like this, I can see how the one seriously problem parent in my troop might lead me to do something along these same lines if she doesn’t get her shit together.

    There are people in the world who appreciate volunteers, and there are people in this world who look at a volunteer like me and say to themselves, “How can I take advantage of her in every possible way?” Unfortunately, notes like this are for the second type, who often ruin leaders like me for everyone else, because we get sick of the endless B.S. that those parents send our way and quit.

    I was advised in training that if a parent is chronically late, bringing the police into it may be a necessary step. Because of those second type of parent. Sad but true.

    (Other comments, TL;dr)

  66. Emily December 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    >>Reminds me of this Albus Dumbledore quote in Harry Potter 1: “Our caretaker, Mr. Filch, has asked me to remind you that the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a most painful death.”<<

    That wasn't a threat of punishment–the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side was out of bounds because there was a vicious three-headed dog (ironically named Fluffy) guarding the Philosopher's Stone.

  67. Emily December 24, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    >>For habitually late parents, what about requiring them to stay the whole time with their sweetums, if they really wanted to be in the club? That way, when it was time to go, the parent would be there. Maybe require it for 3 meetings and then do a trial to see if they would show up on time.<<

    That might work, if the parent was willing, and was given a specific job to do during the meetings they were there but I can see three unfortunate outcomes:

    1. Parent refuses to bring Child to Girl Scouts at all during those meetings, either because it's not feasible with the family's schedule, or because the parent just isn't willing. Some parents might turn it around on the child and say, "YOU got suspended from Girl Scouts for the next three meetings, because YOU were bad."

    2. Parent tries to help, but doesn't know all the ins and outs of Girl Scouts, and ends up being more of a hindrance.

    3. Child is embarrassed to have Parent there (whether or not Parent tries to intervene and micromanage Child), and perceives it as a punishment for her.

  68. Erica December 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    No one gets stuck in traffic there? Or held up in a grocery line? Or otherwise delayed for valid non-emergency reasons beyond their control?

  69. SOA December 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    Erica: not me. Not when I know I have to be somewhere on time. I am an over the top punctual person and if I can pull it off with special needs kids probably anyone can. I have good time management and I air on the side of being too early and therefore even if something runs longer, I still have time built in.

    Those people that try to plan everything out to the minute are always going to end up being late. If you have one hour before you have to pick her up from Girl Scouts then do something that takes 20 minutes and 20 minutes. That gives you some extra time built in if something runs over. But don’t think you can pull off a 40 minute and a 20 minute errand and still be on time. Won’t happen most likely and that would be your error.

  70. hineata December 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    @Dot – wow! What a self-entitled unrepeatable word that mother was.

  71. Matt December 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    My parents were sometimes late to pick me up from these things. When I was about 10, I waited over an hour for my mom to pick me up outside a high school gym after one of my basketball games. I don’t remember exactly, but the coach probably left with his son as soon the equipment was packed, and he wouldn’t have thought twice about leaving a 10yo to wait. And why would he think twice about that? It wasn’t a favorite childhood experience sitting there in the cold night, realizing my mom forgot about me, and being disappointed every time a pair of headlights didn’t turn into the high school parking lot. But it certainly wasn’t scary at all.

  72. Jenny Islander December 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    Kicking a child out of Scouts is entirely possible. Actually what happens is that your child is disinvited from her local troop and if there isn’t room in any other troop and you can’t form your own, no Scouts for her.

    It almost happened to me when my daughter persisted in her insane desire to, oh, walk home half a block under streetlights from a building I can see from where we live on the hill.

    UPDATE on that situation: The girls were part of a community event a couple of days ago which featured a mixed-age Scout choir among other singing groups. The meeting point was, again, visible from my house. Hundreds of scary strangers were circulating in and out all the time. I sent them down on foot, without me, and figured if they got disinvited over that, oh well.

    Not a peep.

  73. Puzzled December 24, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    This makes me wonder – maybe we’re starting to see the first wave of parents raised in our ‘modern,’ paranoid fashion? This would explain why we’re seeing such entitlement to assume “I’ll just let that volunteer keep watching my kid for an hour,” given that they’ve spent their life being catered to, having their parents step in when they have trouble in school or work, etc. Maybe these are precisely the adults we’re worried about helicopter parenting producing? This, in turn, leads to an extreme response.

    My question is – maybe there really is no way out. If we have helicoptered kids raising helicoptered kids, think of how self-perpetuating the whole thing is. While the response here is extreme and illustrates the mentality of ‘the police are useful for everything’ – a mentality I expect also grew out of a childhood where nothing could go wrong, so that anything going wrong is a catastrophe requiring 911 – consider also the background assumptions. Begin with “parents are responsible for transportion.” Are they? Maybe at age 5, but there needs to be a certain age where children are responsible for getting home – or, at the very least, where it’s not the volunteer’s problem who is responsible for arranging transportation.

    Then we have the assumption that, if the parents don’t show up, that responsibility transfers to the Girl Scouts. Again, reasonable at age 5, but at age 10, let the volunteer go home – but our society has decided that, until age 40 or so, someone has to bear responsibility for you.

  74. hineata December 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    I think a letter of this nature should only go out to parents who are regularly late with pick-ups. Am not sure about the police thing, but I guess in a city the size of New York you might not be able to just find a neighbor or someone to take the kid off your hands.

    And no, as a volunteer it is not my problem if you are regularly stuck in traffic, late from a doctor’s appointment or just watching the latest CSI episode. Be there to pick your kid up. A one-off situation is fine….we all have those occasionally. But ‘users’ are A PITA. And my time is as valuable as theirs…..I’m not their wallah.

    Our guide troop doesn’t have problems with this type of thing, as the parents mostly know each other and we just pass off to each other. Parents need to get to know each other, so they can help each other out and not inconvenience the leaders, who already give enough.

  75. Emily December 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    @Puzzled–You may be on to something there. Helicoptered kids grow up to be helicopter parents/helicoptering adults working with kids, because they’ve never experienced anything different, so they think it’s normal. As for the “responsible for transportation” thing, though, I’d say that age is only one factor. Others include distance, location, availability of public transportation, time of day or night, and weather. I mean, I’m an adult, and my steel band teacher still gives me rides home, because I don’t have a car, the steel band meets in a sketchy part of downtown that’d be a fair walk from my home, it’s usually dark when rehearsal lets out, and public transit only runs once an hour in the evenings and on Sundays–and the steel band rehearses on Thursday evenings, and Sunday afternoons, because it’s the only time the church is available. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not safe for a ten-year-old to walk a few blocks home from school in broad daylight, or, as you said, half a block to a Girl Scout meeting/event when the meeting location is visible from the house. In fact, come to think of it, when my friend and I walked to her house after school in grade one when my mom didn’t pick me up, we were six, so that’d be Daisy age (or Spark age in Canada), and her house wasn’t far (maybe three blocks away from the school), but you definitely couldn’t see it from there…..AND it was snowing. So, it blows my mind that your daughter is (I think) ten years old, and her Girl Scout leader thinks it’s “too dangerous” for her to walk half a block alone in good weather. I mean, wasn’t the original purpose of Girl Scouts to foster independence, by teaching skills like making campfires, hiking, swimming, boating, wilderness first aid, and things of that nature? How can that happen if the new M.O. is “constant adult supervision from Daisy to eighteen?”

  76. Emily December 24, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    P.S., I forgot another variable–how much stuff is the participant carrying? I remember returning to school after spending a week in New Orleans with my high school band (so I had my clarinet with me, plus a suitcase packed for a week of travel), during my last year of high school. I was eighteen years old, so technically an adult…..check. It was mid-late afternoon on a Saturday, and light out (although a bit chilly)……check. I routinely got myself to and from school on public transit, and occasionally walking…..another check. Our flight had gotten in about an hour early, so we’d arrived at school ahead of schedule. Everyone else called their parents to be picked up. I called my parents on the school pay phone, and got the Internet signal. This was in 2003, when high-speed Internet was in its infancy, and our so-called “high-speed” Internet didn’t work unless the phone was off the hook (which, in my mind, defeated the purpose), so it resulted in our land line being tied up for hours at a time.

    Anyway, since I couldn’t reach anyone at home, and my parents didn’t keep their cell phones on at the time (they were for their convenience, not anyone else’s), I just waited around at the school, and tried calling a few more times over the next hour or so. When nobody had arrived for me even after the last chaperone had left (at my urging, because I insisted that I was fine), I took the city bus home, suitcase, clarinet, and all. When I arrived, my parents (especially my mom) were SO angry with me, because I’d “unilaterally changed the plan” by arriving early (I couldn’t control when the plane was going to land), and my mom was “at the gym,” (I had no way of knowing that), so I should have “just waited” (for how long?) So, we had a big fight because I went home myself when I didn’t see any other option. It was also my dad’s birthday dinner that night, so that just made it even more interesting.

  77. Form giver December 24, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    I am the one who gave the form to Lenore. The form is used as far as I know in all of New Jersey. The form is given out as part of the new member package.

    The troop my daughter is in meets right after school. They do allow children to go to aftercare after the meeting. There is a different form that parents can have their children released on their own.

  78. Emily December 24, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    Wow, so many forms, and so much parental involvement, just to get a child enrolled in Scouts. Does anyone remember the episode of Leave It To Beaver, where Wally joins the Boy Scouts, but Beaver is too young? Anyway, in this episode, the boys WALK BY THEMSELVES to the school gymnasium, where the Scout registration is happening. When the Scoutmaster tells Beaver he’s too young (I’d say he was about eight, and this was before Cub Scouts), he WALKS HOME BY HIMSELF, while Wally stays. Ward and June have no involvement in any of this, and neither do any of the boys’ parents–except possibly to give them money to pay the troop fees.

  79. Puzzled December 24, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Emily, I think you have me confused with someone else; I don’t have a daughter, 10 or otherwise. Anyway, of course we all have trouble with transportation – but when your steel band teacher drives you home, is that an arrangement you made, or one your parents made? I’m not saying we have to do everything by ourselves, I’m questioning just where the responsibility lies – but more so, being told by the Girl Scouts where the responsibility lies, rather than deciding it within the family. I’m also challenging the assumption that the troop leader needs to assume responsibility if the parents fail – it’s nice, but it’s also symptomatic of a social trend where people need someone ‘responsible for them’ at all times and can never be asked “so, how are you going to get home?”

    My main point, though, is that the entitled parents everyone’s talking about could very well be previously helicoptered children, now irresponsible adults.

  80. Emily December 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    @Puzzled–I joined the steel band on my own, about two years ago, and after my first few rehearsals, my teacher noticed me walking from the church where we rehearse, to the bus station, to get the bus home, so he just started driving me.

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  82. CrazyCatLady December 25, 2014 at 12:30 am #

    So I guess if the “make the parent attend the next three meetings that the child also comes to” doesn’t work, then the alternative is to change the meeting time to a time that is not right after school, but rather in the evening or weekend. When parents are off of work and are doing scouts because they want their child to benefit from it, rather than have free daycare.

    Which takes a leader who has thought ahead and is willing to look for alternative meeting places to schools, like libraries or other places that have meeting rooms. Certainly a troop like this may have lower numbers, but I bet you have kids who will stick together better and longer than the troop made up of kids who want to get out of a day of afterschool care.

  83. Dot December 25, 2014 at 1:47 am #


    ” I’m questioning just where the responsibility lies – but more so, being told by the Girl Scouts where the responsibility lies, rather than deciding it within the family. I’m also challenging the assumption that the troop leader needs to assume responsibility if the parents fail – it’s nice, but it’s also symptomatic of a social trend where people need someone ‘responsible for them’ at all times and can never be asked “so, how are you going to get home?””

    That’s the nut…parents are lawfully obligated to shelter, feed, clothe and educate their offspring. They are free to choose how they meet those lawful obligations including if, when and how’ they share ‘care and control’ of the child.

    The 30 minute rule is intended to define the boundary of where the the group begins and ends their commitment to ‘care and control’ the child. This form makes it clear that the decision regarding method of transportation is absolutely a family vs organizational decision. It’s ironic that parents opting to supplement their lawful obligation with religious, civic, sport etc. activities consider the 30 minute rule to be some sort of intrusive infringement on their rights.

  84. Puzzled December 25, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Dot – I understand what you’re saying, but if that’s the intent of the 30 minute rule, the form should just say “after 30 minutes, it’s not our problem” rather than “after 30 minutes, we decide you’re an unfit parent and call the police.”

  85. Lee K December 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    As a troop leader who is taken advantage of by a few lazy, inconsiderate parents, so many of these comments really offend me. Why would anyone suggest that it’s perfectly acceptable for me, the troop leader, take the child to my own home if she’s not picked-up within 30 mins of meeting end? (AND can’t get a hold of anyone via phone.) After the troop meeting, I must get home, feed my family, and get my other kids to their own activities and practices. I don’t have those extra 30 minutes to spare. So, I guess the question is: do you prefer I disband the troop completely and take scouting away from all the girls…or can you hold to your commitment to pick your child up on time? This has nothing to do “free range” parenting…nor “penalizing” the late parent. My family and I have things to do and I simply don’t have time to babysit your child.

    As for the comment about “filling the void” for a child whose family may not have it together?? Actually, I think I’m already doing that (to some extent) by simply establishing this troop and giving your daughter a unique opportunity to explore the world of scouting, and encouraging them to become thinkers and leaders. But I am NOT a social worker, nor am I qualified to get involved with any family’s problems.

    My time with your child ends at meeting end. Period. I do not expect to be paid, or even thanked. Leading a troop is a way I give back to my community. However, I do expect to be treated with respect. The children respect me…so why shouldn’t the handful of chronically late, forgetful parents? (Seriously…WHO forgets about their own 8 year old child???) Do emergencies happen now and again? Of course…but be considerate and call me, so we can discuss how to handle the situation. For the most part, I’m happy to help you in a pinch.

    Finally, if I drop your child off at your home with no one home and leave a note, *I* can be prosecuted for child abandonment.

    Scouting is not day care nor a babysitting service.

  86. SOA December 25, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    very well said Lee

  87. Donna December 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    “Begin with “parents are responsible for transportion.” Are they?”

    Absolutely! Until my child is no longer my legal responsibility, I am responsible for transportation. How I choose to exercise that responsibility will vary based on situation. I may choose to say “yes, you can do X, but you have to find your own way there.” Or I may dictate how my child will get to am from X. It will depend on what, where and when X is. Either way, I still expect to be a part of the discussion as to whether X is a place Jr. should go and how Jr. is going to get there if so. Even once Jr. is driving, I control the keys and where and when that car goes so I am still responsible for transportation; it is now just a supervisory role.

    “if that’s the intent of the 30 minute rule, the form should just say ‘after 30 minutes, it’s not our problem’ rather than ‘after 30 minutes, we decide you’re an unfit parent and call the police.'”

    Calling the police in this situation is NOT a decision that the parents are unfit – that decision is for the police and/or CPS. It is a decision that I am not going to be responsible for this situation any more. It is no different than if I call animal control for a dog that is loose in my yard. I don’t actually think you are a bad pet owner because your dog got out, but I am also not willing to take responsibility for your dog in your absence so I am handing it over to an authority who will.

    These are NOT parents who have made a decision that it is okay for their children to be unattended until they get there. In fact, they fully expect someone to cater to them and mind their child. And since these people have huge entitlement complexes, they WILL be screaming a million different ways if you leave their child alone and you will spend hours dealing with them and the Girl Scout organization over their complaints. Ultimately, you may win the battle, but at the cost of hours of your time. Sorry, I see no reason to deal with this either.

  88. Donna December 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

    And this insistence that the kids just get left alone also ignores the actual legal liability of the TROUP LEADER. There ARE situations where it is actually unsafe to leave young children alone for unknown periods of time and the TROUP LEADER will be arrested for doing so. There are other situations where, albeit a safe situation, the TROUP LEADER will still be arrested and charged with child abandonment for leaving the child alone. And, right or wrong, these situations are growing. I guarantee you, as a criminal defense attorney, that the argument of “well it is the parents’ fault for not being on time” will fall on deaf ears. In fact, I highly doubt the parents will be charged at all. Even if the troup leader does win, it will be at a cost of thousands of dollars in legal fees and missed work to attend court. Damn right, I would call the police myself before I risked this.

  89. Puzzled December 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    Donna, that implied liability is exactly what I’m opposing. I can recognize that the law exists and still oppose it – that’s why I said that this whole conflict arises from larger social issues. And I completely agree that leaving your kids and expecting the scout leader to watch them is part of an entitlement mentality and unacceptable – and I think it should be impossible, in that the law shouldn’t let you throw your responsibility onto other people.

  90. Donna December 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    Puzzled – I agree that this is an indication of greater social issues to the extent that troup leaders are far too likely to be arrested for leaving a child of an appropriate age alone in a completely safe location to wait for parents (and the entitlement stuff). I completely disagree that there should be no liability if the troup leader leaves a child that is too young for the time and location, regardless of the fault of the parents.

    A troup leader has a duty to act in accordance with the safety of the children placed in her care until those children exit her care. Acting in an irresponsible manner with those children simply because the clock has run on the time that she is supposed to be acting responsibly is not acceptable. Nobody “threw the responsibility onto her.” She took the responsibility by agreeing to be a scout leader with the understanding that said responsibility ends only when someone arrives to take over the responsibility, not when the clock strikes 7pm.

    I can’t imagine why I would be super late without calling short of an accident, but I would be absolutely livid if the troup leader just left my child alone at the end of her scout meeting. It is absolutely not a safe area to leave a 9 year old alone at night for some completely unknown amount of time (could be 5 minutes or I could have been killed in a wreck on the way there and am never coming for all she knows if she hasn’t talked to me). I would demand her dismissal as scout leader and would at least consider pressing criminal charges. Regardless of my part in the scenario, it is still an extremely bad error in judgement to leave a child alone in an unsafe area.

  91. Donna December 25, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    “She took the responsibility by agreeing to be a scout leader with the understanding that said responsibility ends only when someone arrives to take over the responsibility, not when the clock strikes 7pm.”

    That should really say “that said responsibility only ends when it safe for that responsibility to end, not when the clock strikes 7pm.” There are certainly situations where it is safe to allow a child to find her own way home or wait until a parent arrives. However, in situations where it is not, the onus is on the person who currently has responsibility for the child to wait until someone else responsible takes over – be that by waiting for the parents or calling the police.

    And it isn’t an implied liability. It is expressly written right into the laws – at least in any state laws I’ve ever read. There is no legal ability to leave a child in a dangerous situation just because the allotted time for you to be responsible has ended.

  92. Puzzled December 25, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

    The issue, though, is that the liability isn’t limited to cases where it would be dangerous, due to age or circumstances, to leave the child. The liability will be just as high if leaving them is perfectly safe.

    In my view, the scoutmaster was given this responsibility by the parent, so they should be legally liable only in circumstances where the parents would be legally liable for leaving the child – of course, there’s far too many of the latter today also, so that might not be the most meaningful measure.

    But, again, to me, the bigger issue is why parents are outraged that scoutmasters don’t feel like being stuck with their kids for hours longer than they planned – and I suspect that parents are outraged at that because they grew up being special snowflakes and still think they are special snowflakes and entitled to other people’s time.

    That said, I still don’t agree that calling the police and reporting a child as abandoned is a) not judgmental and b) an acceptable thing to do when the child is not, in fact, abandoned. Does any scoutmaster really think the best solution to a parent being late is beginning a process that will see that child in a foster home? The police are not all-purpose problem solvers (or babysitters) and calling the police launches, properly, a criminal justice process. The parent is being rude, inconsiderate, and entitled – not criminal. They need to grow up, not have CPS at their door. Just tell them the kid isn’t going to be welcome anymore if they do it again – and provide them the option to give the child the job of getting home if reasonable – i.e. to sign something saying “my kid will walk home if I’m late.”

  93. Puzzled December 25, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    Oh, and it still strikes me that not too long ago, this didn’t arise at all. Why is that? I don’t mean that parents showed up on time – I mean that scoutmasters didn’t even wonder where the kids went, a lot walked or biked home…

  94. marie December 26, 2014 at 2:01 am #

    Havva asked how long and how frequently I waited for my parents. Often enough and long enough that I grew up knowing that I was not the center of the universe and not even the center of my parents’ universe. At the time, I was angry with my parents for not picking me up sooner and for making me wait all the time but decades later I can see that I was not damaged by the experience. In fact, the experience taught me about patience and about realizing that my parents had other things going on and were not at my beck and call.

    The fact that so many commenters do not question the assumption that children MUST be picked up within 30 minutes and that someone MUST wait with them tells me that Puzzled is onto something with this:

    But, again, to me, the bigger issue is why parents are outraged that scoutmasters don’t feel like being stuck with their kids for hours longer than they planned – and I suspect that parents are outraged at that because they grew up being special snowflakes and still think they are special snowflakes and entitled to other people’s time.

  95. SOA December 26, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Again I am okay with having that on the form because like I said it might scare parents into not taking advantage of the situation and thinking they can show up whenever they feel like it.

    In practice it should only be used when no emergency contact can be reached and the parents are really really really late. After that happening once, depending on the parent’s reason for not answering the phone and none of the other emergency contacts not answering and the reason why they were late-I may or may not ask them to leave the troop or tell them from then on they have to stay during the meeting.

    That seems more than reasonable to me and probably would to anyone that is not the type to be the offender in question.

  96. SOA December 26, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    People that are less than 15 minutes late would be overlooked but probably at least given a talk that I would appreciate them being prompt.

    this is not a new thing. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and it happened then too. I remember having to wait outside a few times but nothing drastic, maybe 15 minutes. The adult in charge always waited with me. They never just left. My mom was also sent home with other kids to drop off many times.

    That part is new because of car seat laws and liability laws people don’t do that much anymore. So that part is new but the adult in charge not being able to leave till the kids are where they are supposed to be, is not new. If the kid is supposed to walk, they can do so but if the kid was supposed to be picked up, then yeah the adult does not leave till that happens.

  97. Donna December 26, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    “The issue, though, is that the liability isn’t limited to cases where it would be dangerous, due to age or circumstances, to leave the child. The liability will be just as high if leaving them is perfectly safe.”

    Which is simply the same societal argument for why parents should not be held liable for leaving them home alone or in a car when doing so is perfectly safe. Scout leaders are simply being held to the same ridiculous over-protective standards as parents today. But I can’t blame them for living up to it. It is one thing to say “I am going to parent as I want to and nothing is going to stop me, even the law.” It is completely another to expect a volunteer scout leader to risk their freedom and their right to raise their own children for some ideal that isn’t even what the parents of said children want. It is the same reason that I am often more helicopter with other people’s children than I am my own. Their parents expect it and how those children turn out in life just isn’t a big enough concern of mine to risk my family.

    “That said, I still don’t agree that calling the police and reporting a child as abandoned is a) not judgmental and b) an acceptable thing to do when the child is not, in fact, abandoned.”

    First, how do you definitely know that the child has not been abandoned if you haven’t spoken to anyone who has said they are on their way to get the child? By abandoned, I don’t necessarily mean the choice to be abandoned; this “abandonment” could be a result of an accident. If I am in a serious car accident on the way to pick-up, it is very possible that nobody will be looking for my child for days or weeks. I’m single and self-employed so nobody is going to be hunting me down as missing immediately. The closest hospital has my emergency contact (my mother) on file through previous visits and they will hopefully eventually call, but my mother is not kept abreast of our daily activities so would not know where to go get my child (and she is out of state much of the time anyway). I’ve never stepped foot in the other hospital in town and, if I was taken there, they would have zero information on me to contact anyone. My child is effectively abandoned and I’d much prefer her with the police than sitting on a street corner downtown.

    Second, I don’t know why they are not choosing to simply throw kids out. Probably because they don’t want to keep a child even the first time this happens due to their own family commitments. Their only other options are to never take responsibility (ie parents all have to stay) or to find someone else to take responsibility. It sounds like they try to find someone less dire than the police first, but ultimately that is the default. I am having real problems feeling any sympathy whatsoever for the parents here. If you don’t want the police called, pick up your kid within a half an hour of time or pickup your cellphone and call. This is not an onerous or unreasonable parenting requirement. I do feel sympathy for the kids, but my sympathy is really that they are stuck with totally crappy parents.

    “Oh, and it still strikes me that not too long ago, this didn’t arise at all. Why is that?”

    Parent pickup wasn’t as common because it was unusual for kids to be involved in many activities and even rarer for those activities to be outside of walking distance and at night. Today activities are more spread out and often take place in the evening because everyone works. My daughter can walk/bike to swim team (and nobody would stop her from doing so), but all her other activities are not walkable due to location and/or time. I can’t think of a single kid in her Girl Scout troup who lives within reasonable solo walking distance for their age, especially considering it is dark by the end for much of the year. We’ve built our societies around cars and that includes children activities.

    That said, I can’t recall a single activity I was in where parents who did pick up (I lived in a very rural area where walking wasn’t feasible for many for several years) were regularly more than 30 minutes late. My parents were usually last and they were never that late. I think the very recent entitlement complex is pushing pick up times later and later.

  98. Donna December 26, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    marie – Of course, children should be picked up (if pickup is necessary) within 30 minutes of the end of activity, whether someone waits or not. Leaving ANYONE waiting for more than 30 minutes without cause is EXTREMELY RUDE. I don’t care if that person is 27 or 7. This is not a new idea. There is nothing Snowflake about that expectation. There is nothing Snowflake about being angry if left to wait. You shouldn’t expect to keep your job if you are more than 30 minutes late regularly, so I don’t know why you should expect no negative consequences for regularly leaving your child waiting for more than 30 minutes, again whether someone waits with her or not.

  99. marie December 26, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Discussions like this get a little weird because we each have our own children in mind. Some of us are picturing kindergartners or preschoolers and some of us are picturing fifth graders. When a parent hears the suggestion that the child simply wait outside the building, and they imagine their four-year-old waiting outside stripclubs, well, no wonder the suggestion seems crazy.

    Donna, you said, My child is effectively abandoned and I’d much prefer her with the police than sitting on a street corner downtown.

    Sure, I suppose. But your daughter surely knows who else she can call for a ride because I assume you aren’t raising her to be helpless.

    And yes, of course if the rules demand pickup within 30 minutes, the kids should be picked up on time. I agree that “making” other adults wait with your kids just because you can’t keep an eye on the time, that is rude.

    Letting your kids wait for 30 minutes or even longer is not unreasonable, though. Raising kids to believe THEY should never be inconvenienced by parents who have lives of their own…THAT is the snowflake thing.

    Making sure your kids have an alternate plan (call Aunt Kate, walk to the library, sit down on the curb and do homework, call the cops because I must surely be dead) if you are late…that is the Free Range thing.

    When the world agrees that adults should never let children wait and that children should never be expected to sort out their own difficulties, I think that is a sign that we have snowflakes raising snowflakes.

    If there is a problem with a parent who is habitually late, then it is time to figure out how to deal with that parent, that child. That’s not the time to threaten to call the cops on the rest of the parents. Talk to the parent (or, better: ALL the parents) and tell them “if you arrive to pick up your kid and no one is here, call this number to find out who took your kid home.” Calling the cops is a way to teach the problem parent a lesson; it isn’t a way to make sure the child gets home safely.

  100. Emily December 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Who forgets about their own child? Probably every parent who’s ever been distracted, or had a miscommunication with the other parent, like the time I was forgotten at the YMCA for three hours after my volunteer shift ended, when I was twelve or thirteen, because each parent thought the other was picking me up. I called, they came, and we laughed it off and moved on with life. It also happened to a friend of mine in high school. There were four siblings in his family, all involved in various activities, and one evening, his parents forgot him after band practice. Everyone else was home, and in the process of getting ready for bed, until…….”Wait a minute, where’s Johnny?” Cue a mad dash to the school, where he was sitting outside. Again, no hard feelings, funny story for later. In fact, this scenario happens so frequently, in so many households, that it’s become a running joke on TV, and in other places. There’s a funny story about it here:


  101. Emily December 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    P.S., I forgot to mention, nobody was inconvenienced by either of the scenarios I described, because, since I was a (young) volunteer at the YMCA beginning at twelve, and looked after younger children, nobody thought I needed constant supervision when not volunteering. When my friend got forgotten after band practice, that was during high school, so again, not a huge deal, although our senior band rehearsed in the evenings, and therefore let out after dark for most of the school year (junior band met right after school). The Middlest Sister story I linked in my previous post, probably happened sometime in the 80’s, before people started treating children under some arbitrary (but gradually increasing) age like checked baggage.

  102. Donna December 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    marie –

    This letter involved a Girl Scout troup. My daughter’s Girl Scout troup is 33 girls, 28 of which are in elementary school. In my experience that is a pretty typical age-breakdown for Girl Scout troups as Girl Scouts is something that the majority seem to outgrow by middle school. That was true in my childhood and appears to continue to be true today based on our local troups. THAT is the age kids we are likely talking about. I am answering this letter from the prospective of elementary school age kids ranging in age from 5 to 10, not middle school and high school age kids. And the meeting might be next to the strip club. Who knows. Our troup meets in an odd place.

    “But your daughter surely knows who else she can call for a ride because I assume you aren’t raising her to be helpless.”

    My daughter is 9. She is certainly not helpless, but she is still just 9 and I only expect her to solve 9 year old problems. G

    “Letting your kids wait for 30 minutes or even longer is not unreasonable, though. Raising kids to believe THEY should never be inconvenienced by parents who have lives of their own…THAT is the snowflake thing.”

    I guess that is where we differ. In my opinion, making ANYONE wait 30 minutes is unreasonable. If you set up a meeting with me and arrive 30 minutes late without calling me, I can guarantee you with 100% certainty that you will be the only person at this meeting as I will have left at least 15 minutes prior to your arrival. Being a child doesn’t make it less rude.

    Sorry, it is not a Snowflake to expect the respect of someone showing up when you say that you are going to show up. My daughter knows in many ways that she is not the center of my universe and that I have a life of my own. She also knows that I will be where I say I am going to be and when or I will call, just like my clients know and the courts know and my family and friends know. That is simple human respect, not treating someone like a Snowflake.

  103. Donna December 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Emily – HUGE difference between high school and kindergarten, which is the age Girl Scouts starts. If this letter had been handed out to high school, or even middle school, band kids, I’d think it was ridiculous, but it isn’t ridiculous when you are dealing young kids. Since we weren’t told the age of girls in this particular troup, it is as possible that it is a troup of Daisies (age 5-7) as it is that it is a troup of Cadettes (age 11-14). We have no idea.

  104. Emily December 26, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Donna is right. Besides, most parents expect their children to be home in the evenings at a certain time, and arrive at school and other activities on time, and sometimes to time-sensitive chores, like, say, taking out the garbage on garbage day, setting the table in time for dinner (or for an older child, making dinner by the time the parent arrives home from work), and do other things that involve following a schedule. So, how could those parents expect their child to respect “Finish your game of hide-and-seek by the time the street lights come on,” or “Yes, you can go to the park, but be home for lunch at one,” or “We’re leaving for Grandma’s birthday dinner at five o’clock,” if they don’t give their child the reciprocal respect of being on time for Girl Scout pick-up?

  105. Emily December 26, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    @Donna–I know that Girl Scouts starts with Daisies (age 5-7), because Girl Guides in Canada operates the same way, except the first level is called Sparks (also for 5-7’s). However, I was objecting to the idea of having that same blanket rule of “30 minutes, or we call the cops” for kids of all ages, any time of day, regardless of the weather, proximity of the meeting location to the Scout’s home, et cetera. I live in a safe neighbourhood, right around the corner from a church (as in, you can see the church from the backyard), and just up the street from two more. Sparks/Daisies starts at age five, and I think it’d be perfectly safe for a five-year-old to walk to any of those churches (or at least the around-the-corner one), at least during daylight hours, barring extreme weather conditions (thunderstorm, blizzard, etc).

  106. Emily December 26, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    P.S., There’s a huge difference between accidentally forgetting your child, and deliberately saying, “Meh, let the kid wait. I don’t want to raise a brat.” I’m definitely not advocating the latter.

  107. Puzzled December 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Donna, I’m not saying the scoutmaster should take the legal liability on – I’m saying the expectations and law need to change. I absolutely agree that they’re reacting to the same stupid laws that see parents arrested for doing perfectly safe things, with the exception that the scoutmaster is probably in greater danger, not less, because the same parent who doesn’t show up on time is probably going to scream bloody murder if the scoutmaster isn’t there. I’m complaining about the situation, not saying the scoutmaster should take off – and I’m also complaining about the social scenario that led to the laws and interpretations thereof.

    On abandonment – I hadn’t thought of a scenario like that, and it’s a good point. I also understand not feeling sympathy for parents who do inconsiderate things, but there is a difference between not feeling sympathy in a general sense, and wanting them arrested and/or their kids taken away – see above mentioned idiotic laws and idiotic enforcement mechanisms. I can think someone is a jackass and still think exposing them to DCF is a bit much.

    Marie – I agree with Donna and think you look my point a bit too far. While we’re not entitled to other people’s time, we can most certainly agree with each other to do something that entails time. If you tell a child “yes, you may participate in this activity, and I will drive you there and pick you up” you’ve created a bit of an entitlement – an entitlement you have not created with the scoutmaster (although you’ve created an entitlement to their time of a different sort – certainly no one would find it acceptable for the scoutmaster to just take off halfway through the agreed upon meeting time.) You can’t just assume the scoutmaster will keep your kid for 1 or 2 hours beyond what they agreed to – but your kid can, I think, assume you’ll come when you said you would. Now, if you tell them “yes, you can, but just realize you’ll need to wait outside for half an hour until I get off work” and communicate that to to the scoutmaster, fine – they’ll probably want a signature, though, which is also fine.

    My whole philosophy is not to, where it is avoidable, deny children rights and responsibilities we give to adults. Any adult has a right to expect you to show up within half an hour of your agreed upon time – try making a date wait half an hour without a really good reason and see what happens – and so a child does also.

    Also, there seems to be a universal agreement that the area outside a strip club is more dangerous than average. I expect the opposite is true – most areas are not patrolled by very large men who will physically remove you from the premises if you don’t behave yourself.

  108. Donna December 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    Emily – This is not a blanket rule for Girl Scouts. Our troup has no such rules. This is the just the rule for one specific Girl Scout troup. But thing is we know absolutely nothing about this troup. It could be a bunch of helicoptered Cadettes that live within 2 blocks of the meeting location (ridiculous rule) or it could be a bunch of Daisies who live miles from the meeting location (reasonable rule). I guess I’m having a hard time understanding why so many seem to be commenting as if the former is clearly true, when it could just as easily be the latter. Obviously leaving 5 year olds to fend for themselves after dark and expecting them to just get their own way home if mom fails to show up after awhile is ridiculous. That easily could be who this letter was solely intended for – a troup of Daisies.

    That said, since I would rather the troup NOT leave my daughter alone if I am more than 30 minutes late without calling and they can’t reach me on my phone (note that they do try to call the parents first) because that means something is seriously awry, I have a hard time finding the objection here. If I’m not there, I am either unconscious or am going to show up with one helluva story and police intervention doesn’t bother me in the least as it will result in nothing. I simply can’t understand the mindset of “meh, my kid can just wait until it is convenient for me so that she learns she is not the center of the universe, so police intervention is really scary” at all.

  109. Emily December 26, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    @Donna–I agree that it’s irresponsible to just leave a five-year-old to fend for him-or-herself after dark, and I also disagree with the attitude of “I don’t need to be on time; my child needs to learn to wait, because my time is more important.” However, that’s different from either accidentally forgetting your child, or mutually deciding in advance that the child will walk/bike/take public transit home from the activity, or get a ride with someone else. Also, since accidentally forgetting to pick up a child is, indeed, an accident, it’s impossible to set a minimum age at which it’s safe, because it’s not as if you’re trying to forget. Maybe it’s worse to forget to pick up your Daisy Scout than your Cadette Scout, but I still don’t think it’s criminal, as long as it’s not a regular thing.

  110. Donna December 26, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Emily – It isn’t a matter of it being criminal or wanting someone to get arrested. It is a matter of the only other option for the scoutleader is to keep the child indefinitely. The scoutleader can’t just leave the child there alone. The scoutleader can’t reach you. The scoutleader can’t reach your other emergency contacts. Th scoutleader has no idea if you are coming in 5 minutes or never because you are now dead. What are her options here (as in right in the minute that she has a child in her custody whose parents are over 30 minutes late and she can’t reach them)? And how long does she have to keep a child before she can call the authorities? Does she have to send the kid to college with her own child?

    I agree that kids should be able to walk or ride with others. I see absolutely nothing in this letter that indicates that this can’t happen. It states only that parents have to arrange transportation, not that the only acceptable manner of transportation is in the specific child’s parents’ vehicle and anything else will result in a call to the police.

    I also think the how realistic it is that you unintentionally forgot your child depends on the situation. An after school meeting? That makes sense. I know I’ve run out of the office at the last minute to get my kid from school because I suddenly remembered it was Friday and she doesn’t go to the Y on Friday. However, our troup meets from 6 to 7 nowhere near the school, meaning the parents just dropped the kid off an hour before. If you truly forget to pick your kid up at the place that you just dropped her off an hour before, you really need to be checked for early onset of dementia.

    And the fact is that the scoutleader CALLS the parents BEFORE she calls the police. So now you are forgetting to pick up your kid and failing to answer your phone. Makes it seem much less accidental and much more intentional or tragic.

  111. Emily December 26, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    @Donna–A lot of the people in my high school band would simply stay after school until band practice (there were enough people who stayed that it wasn’t lonely or boring), or go somewhere other than home (like the YMCA up the street, the mall, etc.), so it’d be entirely possible for their parents to forget their kids after band, because they hadn’t seen them all day, and might just think they were quietly reading or studying or watching TV in their bedrooms, when they were actually sitting outside the high school auditorium, waiting to be picked up. However, I agree, “forgetting” your child at Girl Scouts, when you just dropped her off an hour ago, seems less plausible. In that case, I don’t think the Scout leader should “keep the child indefinitely” if the parent doesn’t arrive for pick-up, and the leader can’t reach any of the child’s contacts, but maybe the leader could drive the child home, just to see if anyone’s there, and THEN call the police. There might be an older sibling home, or the other parent, or the child might have her own house key, if she routinely stays home alone after school. If this isn’t the case, THEN call the police, but I’d try the house first, because it could be a simple miscommunication (each parent thought the other was supposed to pick Kiddo up), or maybe the family doesn’t have a land line, and the cell phone is turned off, or the battery is dead, or it was accidentally left on vibrate, and nobody can hear it.

    @Marie–It’s not encouraging snowflake behaviour, to pick someone up when you said you would. One thing I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned, is that Girl Scouts (and Girl Guides) have to learn a Promise when they join. In fact, it’s probably the first thing they teach the kids, as Daisies/Sparks/Rainbows/Gumnuts/Pippins/whatever. They make a big deal of it, they have a Promise ceremony for those joining for the first time (and a re-affirmation for those returning), and the child receives a Promise badge, or the centre of the daisy to put on her spiffy new blue vest, or whatever……because she’s just made a PROMISE to her new group. Now, how seriously is that child going to take her Promise, if she’s experiencing her parents routinely not arriving to pick her up from Scouts/Guides when they said they would? If the arrangement was for the child to walk home/bike home/get a ride with someone else/take public transit, or wait at a safe location, like a public library (not unreasonable, since there’s a combined Spark and Brownie unit in my city that actually meets AT the public library), then yeah, it’s fine to stick to that, but if you said you were going to pick up your child when the meeting ends, “I have a life of my own” isn’t a good enough reason not to. Besides, kids live what they learn–how would you like it if your child promised to do a chore at a certain time, and then used “I have a life of my own” as an excuse for not following through? Probably not very much.

  112. marie December 26, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    Now, how seriously is that child going to take her Promise, if she’s experiencing her parents routinely not arriving to pick her up from Scouts/Guides when they said they would?

    I grew up with parents who picked me up from school every day. The time they arrived for me varied. They never promised (me or anyone else) to pick me up by 4 p.m. I waited for them. Period. Teachers who saw me waiting knew that my folks would be there and the teachers never thought they needed to wait with me. They went home to their own families.

    If the arrangement was for the child to walk home/bike home/get a ride with someone else/take public transit, or wait at a safe location, like a public library (not unreasonable, since there’s a combined Spark and Brownie unit in my city that actually meets AT the public library), then yeah, it’s fine to stick to that, but if you said you were going to pick up your child when the meeting ends, “I have a life of my own” isn’t a good enough reason not to

    My point is that parents and children should make those arrangements so that if the parent is late, no one (child or scoutmaster) would need to panic or call the cops.

    I believe I agreed in an earlier comment about the rudeness of taking advantage of other adults by expecting them to babysit my kid while I lollygag.

  113. Donna December 26, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    “maybe the leader could drive the child home, just to see if anyone’s there, and THEN call the police.”

    Sure, if this is a one-off bizarre thing and if the child’s house is on the way to your house or you just want to be extremely nice, but it really seems like some are insisting that people must take a lot of their own time and go pretty far out of their own way to accommodate someone who has absolutely no respect for anyone else’s (the scoutleader’s or their own child’s) time. Since uber-accommodation is how I think we got into this whole elevated sense of entitlement mess to start with, I’m not sure that I have much interest in encouraging more accommodation. A person who truly just forgot her child, would likely be embarrassed and never do this again. The parent who thinks only her time has any value has simply just learned that you will drive her child home if she doesn’t show up and I can pretty much promise that she will never show up on time again.

  114. Emily December 27, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    @Donna–I suppose you’re right, but I was trying to think in terms of what would be in the best interests of the child, and at the same time, the least disruption to the Scout leader’s schedule. I mean, the Scout leader really shouldn’t leave an elementary-school-aged child alone at night, for an undetermined period of time, if you can’t reach her parents, so that’s out. The Scout leader may need to get home to her own family, and feed them dinner, et cetera, so she can’t STAY with the child for an undetermined period of time. So, I was thinking that the Scout leader driving by the child’s house to see if anyone was home, would at least get the Scout leader on the road and moving, and if the child either had someone else in her family who was home at the time, or if she had a house key, then the Scout leader could continue on her way home, and not have to call the police.

    Also, I hate to say it, but your daughter’s Scout troop seems like a rather obnoxious set-up. An hour-long meeting, during dinner time, in an area that’s not close to your house, or your daughter’s school, or anywhere else? Is it anywhere near any of the other Scouts’ schools? When I was a kid, Guides and Scouts were mostly after-school or Saturday activities, at school and church locations that most kids could walk to. The way your daughter’s group is organized, you’d pretty much have to drive your child to Scouts, and just wait in the parking lot, because by the time you got home, it’d be time to go back for her, and woe betide anyone who has any other kids in any other activities that overlap Scouts. How do the other parents feel about this?

  115. Donna December 27, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Emily –

    “but I was trying to think in terms of what would be in the best interests of the child,”

    I guess this goes back to my first comment – how much do we have to put ourselves out to protect the best interest of children whose own parents don’t have their best interest at heart or they would just pick them up on time? I am all for helping others, but there is a limit to my willingness to protecting everyone else to the detriment of my own time, schedule, resources and sanity.

    As for my daughter’s troup, the scout meeting is only 2 miles from my house. It is too far for elementary age kids to walk in the dark in my opinion, but it only takes about 5 minutes to drive. And, while the immediate streets are empty by the time the troup meets due to it being an office area (banks, law offices, water company, post office/federal court, city hall), it is right downtown and only a 3-4 block walk from lots of bars and restaurants (and the beginnings of the state flagship university campus). It is also 2-3 blocks in the other direction from the most crime-ridden housing project in the city. There are certainly resources where my daughter could find help if she was abandoned at her scout meeting (and went in the right direction), but seeking help at a college bar seems a bit outside normal expectations for a 3rd grader and not a position I am interested in putting her in at this age – and, frankly, if the scoutleader couldn’t reach me, neither is anyone at the bar going to be able to, so their only option is to call the police and we are right back where we started originally but now with a lot more stress on my child.

    The troup meets where it meets because our scout troup is sponsored by a church. The meeting place (right across the street from the church) is provided by the church and so is a substantial amount of money, allowing our girls to do things that they might not be able to do otherwise (it is basically a free troup – dues, membership fees, and the cost of most activities are paid 100% by funds received from the church and fundraising opportunities provided by the church).

    The time is what it is. It is what is convenient for the scoutleaders. The vast majority of the parents – including all the scoutleaders – work and can’t get their kids to activities outside of school before 5:30-6. Such is life in 2014 when the vast majority of children are raised in houses with 2 working parents. I refuse to enroll my child in any extracurriculars on the weekends so she would not be a member if Girl Scouts met then. Weekends are my time to relax, not shuttle a kid around.

    All in all, I love my daughter’s scout troup. I have no complaints. I’ve never heard anyone else voice any complaints either. In fact, a number of kids from outside the area choose to join our troup rather than a closer one.

  116. Rob December 27, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    My group, literally, a couple of months ago instituted an identical policy.

    The policy has nothing to do with over-protective parenting, it has to do with a very small number of inconsiderate and irresponsible parents who are CONSISTENTLY leaving their own children (often very young children) for OTHER PEOPLE’S parents to look after well beyond any reasonable time.

  117. SOA December 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    I was a daisy in like 2nd or 3rd grade in the suburbs and no the meeting area was not walkable to anything. I lived on top of a ridge where there were subdivisions and no sidewalks and huge hills and blind corners etc. The meetings were at night because I remember it being dark often when I went in so I am guessing about 6. Parents dropped off and came back an hour later. I think driving distance from my house was maybe 12 minutes. So my mom had plenty of time to go back home but would have to be back to get me.

    No way me or any of the other girls would be walking home and it be safe. That was just the area we lived in. And that was the little church that let us have the meeting there.

    It was close to all our houses but not really a walking thing. It was not a walking area period. Many areas around here are not designed with walkers in mind.

    What is wrong with parents bringing a dang book and sitting in the car and waiting? I do that all the time. My son has an activity 45 minutes away from our house and I just bring a book and sit in the lobby and wait on him since its too far to go home. Or I go run errands nearby. I don’t see why other parents have some extreme issue with dropping their kid off and being back on time to get them.

  118. Emily December 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    @Dolly–Were you really a Daisy Scout in grade two or three? I thought that that was Brownie age. Anyway, I can see how the meeting location that you described wouldn’t be conducive to Daisy OR Brownie-aged kids walking (or even older kids, because a twelve-minute drive would be a much longer walk), but I’m just thinking, it’s sad that we live in such a car-centric culture, that kids have to be driven everywhere. Even at an age when kids are developmentally ready to walk short distances independently (or in pairs or small groups) in safe areas, it’s not possible for them to actually do that, because those safe areas are so few and far between.

  119. SOA December 29, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    Oh yeah I mean Brownie. whichever is the one before you walk the bridge to girl scouts. I never stayed with it long enough to do that.

  120. Emily December 29, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    Lenore–Have you thought of getting the Scouts and the Guides involved in the Free-Range Project? Camping and crafts are all well and good, but skills like cooking, walking or biking independently to places within the neighbourhood, etc., are skills that young people can (and should) use regularly. I mean, obviously, it’d be different at each level, because you can’t have Sparks (Canadian equivalent of Daisy Scouts) doing the same kinds of challenges as Rangers (Canadian equivalent of Senior and Ambassador Scouts), because that would be truly negligent, but maybe if the Free-Range project became part of the program, then the organization would let go of its “treat kids like checked baggage” policies.