Hateful Girl Scout Response - long

Posted on: Tue, 03/07/2006 - 11:28pm
Kelseymom's picture
Joined: 11/20/2002 - 09:00

This is a follow up to my message about Girl Scout camp. Last year my daughter was too young to attend the Jamboree camp, where troops from our Service Unit gather for a weekend. Dinners are provided but lunches and snacks are on your own, basically. Last year when I found out they were doing a PB craft I asked about it to see if they knew if there were any allergic kids going. The Service Unit organizer told me to get on the committe this year and I did so.

After the first committee meeting for this year I sent out an email letting the committee know that Kelsey has a peanut allergy, explaining a little bit about how serious it is, telling them that I had already found out that the EMTs were 10-15 minutes away and the nearest hospital was 20 minutes away. I said that at some point I'd like to discuss what modifications (if any) they thought would be reasonable to make to reduce the risk of Kelsey coming in contact with peanuts.

I got the most hateful response back from the person who had told me to get on the committe that three days later I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it. She followed that up with a snotty email saying that she saw that neither I nor my co leader were camp trained so maybe it wouldn't be an issue (Jamboree is 7 months away and we were planning on getting trained in March).

After trading a few emails with her she said that she is tired of hearing about peanut butter, that she has lots of other problems to deal with, and that this will be addressed at our next meeting. I have gotten no support from the other members on the committee so I'm not looking forward to the next meeting.

This woman has been argumentative and downright mean to other people in the past, and nothing has been done, so I don't think that complaining to people above her would do much good.

I'm going to calm down and plan my next move. I'm a Girl Scout leader and right now I just want to quit. I don't know how I can ever be in the same room with this woman again, much less work with her. But I know that isn't the answer. I can have my co-leader attend meetings and avoid being with this woman as much as possible. I am afraid about burning in **** , though, if I can't find a way to forgive her. Just kidding. Mostly.

I'm thinking about two things. One, that this is the first time that someone has been downright mean about Kelsey's peanut allergy. Trying to find a way to learn from this, perhaps this will make me stronger and more able to deal with confrontations about PA in the future. Has anyone else found that to be true? At least it didn't happen in person, where I don't know how I would have responded. Right now I am shaking just thinking about it.

Secondly, I know that we have to educate people and try to get them to see that if they are willing to make slight modifications they will enable PA people to participate more fully in activities like Girl Scouts. But - how far do you go when people are so closed and even hateful about it? I don't want to put my 8 year old in a situation where she is around people who don't want her there.

Thanks for listening -Julia

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 12:23am
Nutforce's picture
Joined: 06/02/2005 - 09:00

She's tired of hearing about peanut butter? What a witch with a b. Maybe you could let her know that no one is more tired of peanut butter than you, considering it can put your child's life at risk.
I would take the issue and her comment to someone higher up. There is no reason there HAS to be a peanut butter craft done. There are plenty of crafts they can do that don't involve food. And perhaps someone who does not have the children's safety as a priority should not be involved with children at all.
Is she tired of hearing about bee stings too?
Just wanted to add--Don't allow this woman to bully you.
[This message has been edited by Nutforce (edited March 08, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 12:38am
Nutforce's picture
Joined: 06/02/2005 - 09:00

Go check out the girl scouts official usa website. Here is an excerpt:
"Girl Scouts of the USA ...dedicated solely to girls

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 12:48am
Kelseymom's picture
Joined: 11/20/2002 - 09:00

Nutforce: I agree. I was really surprised to come across this attitude in a Girl Scout leader.
To clarify - last year they did the PB craft. There are no PB crafts this year but they say that PB has been a staple in the past and they can't tell people what kind of food to bring. I wasn't going to ask for peanut to be totally banned, but didn't even get that far before I got the big reaction and the "we'll talk about it at the next meeting" response.

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 12:49am
Danielle's picture
Joined: 04/08/2003 - 09:00

I would absolutely take it to a higher authority. And I would document everything. There comes a point when it is time to stick up to those who have no compassion. I bet she has done this to other people even if it has nothing to do with peanut butter. Your daughter deserves the chance to particapate. I no longer get weepy when it comes to things like you are dealing with.... but it is hard to get past that point I know. Good luck

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 1:04am
Nutforce's picture
Joined: 06/02/2005 - 09:00

I'm glad there is no pb craft.
They need to work with you on how to manage the pb that might be brought in for snacks and sandwiches though. If they won't do an all out ban, they could at least write a letter letting the other parents know there is a pa child attending and suggest alternatives for lunches. For those who still bring pb, there should be handwashing/wipes, and at the least, a peanut free area or table.
They really should have some type of procedure in place anyway--I am sure they will be having more and more kids with different food allergy situations that will need to be addressed in the future.
Good luck.

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 1:05am
Daisy's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006 - 09:00

I would do as she says and "address this at the next meeting." That way you have the support of your co-leader, and possibly others. Do you know of other PA girls scouts? There's safety in numbers...and more sympathy, too.
You will be present, so...one problem out of the way. Come up with an action plan, just in case. Contact the camp itself.(See your service unit website for details.) Plan a map, make sure you have telephone contact (cell phone or landline) in this area, and just generally, be prepared. (Or is that the Boy Scout motto? Oh well, works for me.)
The service unit camp my daughter attends has a health form requirement for all campers. *Allergy* is one of the sections. Fill this out, with an action plan from your allergist, just as you would do for school.
At my daughter's camp, they are placed in "cabins" by troop. And from talking to her leaders, there are "group activities", but each troop stays *together* for this. It is not a "free-for-all" with people responsible for kids they don't know; the troop leaders pretty much responsible for their own troop at all times. Just like your regular "Mommy duty." They even bring their own snacks. Just bring extra, so she will not have to eat any unsafe foods.
Be strong,

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 1:42am
Anne Parrish's picture
Joined: 01/06/2000 - 09:00

Oh, Julia! What a shame you have to deal w/ this! But GS leaders are not saints & there are the good, the bad & the in-between, just like everywhere else.
I agree w/ Nutforce that it would not be unreasonable to have a letter go out as part of the encampment packet letting the leaders know that there are kids w/ PA at the encampment & that the following things would be helpful in terms of keeping them safe (bring PB alternatives, washing hands, etc.) And I think you need to get a mental plan ready so you know what issues are your minumum, non-negotiable points. (Not to be shared w/ anyone, of course!) Then you will know with absolute clarity when you have reached the point where you have to say that you/your daughter will not be able to participate in this event. With any luck, you will never reach that point, but I think it really helps having it all thought out ahead of time really helps.
Good luck!
P.S. I seem to recall that Food Allergies are addressed in SafetyWise. I am at work so I can't look it up, but I will check this afternoon... might be good ammunition.
[This message has been edited by Anne Parrish (edited March 08, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 2:10am
Kelseymom's picture
Joined: 11/20/2002 - 09:00

Thanks for all your support and input everyone. Anne - I did find on page 72 of Safety Wise "Standard 22 - All meeting places, camps, and other sites used for Girl Scout program activities provide a safe, clean, and secure environment and allow for participation of all girls."
I'm going to bring that to the meeting - and try a different approach. I started with a very open ended "What do you think is reasonable to do" approach since I had never attended the camp and wasn't exactly sure how food was handled. Instead I am going to educate myself on how food is handled and present solutions to the problem. -Julia

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 2:11am
Jana R's picture
Joined: 02/09/1999 - 09:00

These guidelines might be helpful to present:

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 2:50am
mom2two's picture
Joined: 06/09/2000 - 09:00

I would most definitely forward all correspondence from her, especially the part where she is tired of peanut allergies, to your regional and local GS officials. This is NOT the image that GS of America want to have. Sounds like she should be stepping down as her concerns are not the girls first.


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