Girl Scout Troop Adventure: Indoor Rock Climbing Gym and the Wall of Doom!

Last week during Spring Break, we took our Girl Scout Troop to the Stone Gardens Indoor Rock Climbing Gym in Bellevue, Washington.  The Girl Scout Troop loves to go to this place and play for two solid hours.  And I enjoy allowing them to challenge themselves in the safety of indoor climbing gym wearing the appropriate safety gear.

The only person to get hurt was yours truly.  In my misguided notion that I have superpowers, I fell attempting to leap from one climbing handhold to the other on the free climbing wall.  I realized that my arms don’t quite stretch as far as an orangutan as I fell backwards towards the floor.

Sure, the fall was only onto my back from a good ten feet up (maybe higher but we won’t tell my wife that) and I almost gave myself a concussion, but it was fun.  At least that is what I kept telling myself.  My friend Mark (the other dad to attend this event) got a really good laugh that I hurt myself.  He showed me pictures of me doing a really good job of climbing and a picture of the rock face where I had been before I fell.  He wasn’t quick enough to capture my rapid descent to the matt and the aftermath.

Luckily, I was able to hold back the tears and keep up my macho appearance in front of my daughter and her fellow Girl Scouts.

One worthy tip to note is if you have a Boy Scout or Girl Scout Troop is to inquire with different venues if they offer a non-profit rate.  We saved about $5 per climber since we were a non-profit group.

 

Thanks for reading!  Your comments are always welcome!

Girl Scout Troop Update: Where Only the Bad Survive!

I know you are all dying to hear how our Girl Scout Troop is doing.  We have nine Girl Scouts in our troop with active and supportive parents.  I’m very lucky to have the support of the parents because I couldn’t do it alone.  I have enough trouble dealing with my own children much less nine Girl Scouts in the age range of 9-11 years old.

None of them are “bad”.  Sometimes, you have to have a witty sarcastic title to hook your blog readers in….

This is the big Girl Scout Cookie time of the year.  We are on track to sell about 1000 boxes of cookies this season.  My Cookie Manager Kristen told me we sold about 800 in the presale and now have about 200-300 more to sell.  This is what our Girl Scout Troop has committed to.  What we don’t sell, we have to buy.  At $4 a box, we want to make sure we sell every last box of cookies.  If you need some Girl Scout Cookies, keep us in mind!

Over the next few weekends, we’ll be selling Girl Scout Cookies outside of your local supermarket or drug store.  Our Scouts are still young and cute so they can sell the cookies fairly easy.  I was talking with another mom from an older troop (her daughter is in 8th Grade) and she said it was harder.  On the other hand, she did have a few boys at her middle school excited she was selling cookies and wanted to buy some.

Other events we are looking at: Indoor Rock Climbing at Stone Gardens in Bellevue and attending a Seattle Storm (Women’s Professional Basketball)

Going for the top!
Going for the top!

at the Key Arena in September.  We are extremely excited about both events.  Last year, the Girl Scouts had an awesome time with the indoor rock climbing at the gym.  Stone Gardens had two of their staff helping and encouraging the girls the whole time.  They showed the Scouts how to put on the equipment, how to climb, and how to descend correctly.  Very easy going and safety focused.  They offer a non-profit rate as well so it was fairly affordable.  If your Girl Scout Troop is the adventurous type, this is definitely an activity to consider.

The other event we did last year with our City of Kent Parks & Recreation Department basketball team (most of our Girl Scouts played on) was the Seattle Storm game in September.  I have an awesome Dad (Joel) who is great at organizing these outings.  He set up last year’s event and is doing it again this year.  Thanks Joel!

Last year, we had enough tickets sold to do the Fan Tunnel at the beginning of the game.  Our Girl Scouts and Girls Basketball Team, along with their parents and siblings, created a Fan Tunnel for the Storm players to run through and out onto the court.  A very good experience for everyone involved.  Again, I’d highly recommend getting some firm commitments from your troop members and booking a block of tickets to the Seattle Storm.  This year we plan to have 50 tickets and have 38 tickets sold.  So if you are free on Saturday September 7, this is a good chance to see some professional basketball in Seattle for only $20 a ticket.

If you do want to go, here is the Group Sale Rep’s information:

Eric Melch | Account Executive, Group Sales

Seattle Storm | P 206.272.2704 | y emelch@stormbasketball.com

3421 Thorndyke Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119

www.StormBasketball.com

That’s our update for now.  I know it isn’t as sarcastic as you want it to be. But, hey, it’s Girl Scouts and they don’t teach that!

If the little Girl Scouts can do it, I better get up there too!
If the little Girl Scouts can do it, I better get up there too!

Volunteering: Only for the Brave and Stupid!

I recently found out one of my best friends didn’t listen to my advice and has decided to “step up to the plate” and become the Cubmaster for his son’s Cub Scout Pack.

Hey, I’m known for being sarcastic but it when it comes to volunteering, I’m all in.  I like being involved in a worthwhile activity.  I like being with my daughter at her Girl Scout Troop and I like being with my son at his Boy Scout Troop.

I admire my friend’s decision to become the Cubmaster.  He’ll do a great job.

But then you also have to be Brave and (a little) Stupid to take on leadership job.  I’m all for volunteering but that is way too much responsibility for me.  I prefer to help out in a support role where I can be the muscle, but not the one in charge.  If you are the one in charge, you get blamed for everything that goes wrong.  Who needs that?

(Disclaimer:  I was the Den Leader for my son’s Cub Scout Den and now I’m an Assistant Scoutmaster in his Boy Scout Troop.  And I’m also the Girl Scout Troop Leader for my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop.  So I speak from experience on being Brave and Stupid when it comes to volunteering!)

How many times have you gone to a volunteer function and heard some attendee complain how much it sucked?  This could be an auction event for parents or a kid’s day camp for Girl Scouts.  These critics complain about everything: the volunteer staff, the weather, the setting, the accommodations, the kids.

They complain that the kids didn’t have fun at day camp or the staff wasn’t trained enough.  Um, excuse me, they are volunteers.  They do this job because they believe in the cause; not because they get an awesome paycheck!

If you don’t like what is going on, they do something about it.  Stop the complaining, volunteer, and help out!

I do agree that some volunteers are worse than others.  If they are goofing around and not teaching the subject (as it is with some teenagers), then I can see how the event sucks.  If the volunteer isn’t into the job, of course they aren’t going to do a good job.

Nowadays, it is hard to get people to volunteer to help.  With both parents working or a lack of childcare for the other kids in the family, it is hard to be able to volunteer.  No one seems to have the free time to help.  Some people are nervous to volunteer, thinking that they won’t be able to help in any matter.

I admire my friend for taking on the Cubmaster job; it isn’t an easy job.  He’ll have to plan meetings, deal with whacko parents, solve disputes, handle numerous meltdowns (by parents and kids), and still have a great attitude.  He’ll do all of this on top of his full time job.

So hats off to all volunteers, but a big “Thank You” to all the volunteers that hold a leadership role.  I wish you all the best in this unpaid position of parent complaints and whiny kids.

Please Stop Being Good Parents and Teach Your Kid Something!

Note to Future and Current Parents: You aren’t doing your kids any favors by cooking them dinner, doing their laundry, and cleaning their bedrooms.  Do you know what you are doing by taking care of them?  You are making them burdens on society.  You are making them dependent on you (and society) for the rest of their lives.  You’ll make them want to live with you forever if you provide them a nice room, food in their bellies, gas in their fuel tank, and a Smartphone in their hand.  Stop being a good parent.

I didn’t realize that parents took care of their kids so much these days until I was on another Boy Scout camp out this past weekend.  As I’m supervising the youngest scouts (in the age group of 11-12 years old), it dawned on me that they don’t know how to cook a meal or clean up after themselves.  They keep thinking that “somebody else” is going to do it for them.  That somebody is their mommy or daddy.  It definitely isn’t me (the grumpy old Assistant Scoutmaster).

Sure, in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the scouts are supposed to learn from other older scouts (or adults) how to survive on a campout.  However, like any preteen or teenager (whether it is a boy or girl) they get distracted by…anything.  An older scout might have taught them what to do six minutes ago or six months ago and they don’t remember that information now when they really need it.  They don’t remember that you cook your meat on medium heat, not high heat.  They don’t remember that cooking takes time and you have to pay attention to the meal on the stove lest it be burned to a pile of charcoal.  They don’t remember that in summer camp someone showed them that to clean a pot you need to use soap, water, and some good old fashion elbow grease.  They don’t know that hot water is their friend in the cleaning process.

What can you as parents can you do to help your child?  Stop doing everything for them.

But wait, you say…that’s my baby we are talking about!  Should I just throw a tent in the backyard and let my ten year old live with the dog?  Of course not, start with baby steps.  One simple thing they can learn this afternoon is “How to use the laundry washer and the dryer.”

Side Note:  I mentioned this to my ten year old daughter and she laughed at me.  Ha. Ha.  The joke is going to be on her when she doesn’t have any clean clothes and she is know as “The Stinky Kid” at school.  Boy, I can’t wait for that call from her teacher talking about my daughter’s aroma and personal hygiene issues.  That phone call will prove I’m a great parent.

Then show them how to properly clean the dishes in the sink.  Show them how to wash out that pot so all of the old oatmeal is gone.  Use the cleaning pad to get it clean.  If you are a camping family, you can even pretend you are on a camping trip.  Make some stations in your kitchen with three tubs:

  1. Wash Pot/Tub: Hot Water with a few drops of biodegradable soap.
  2. Rinse Tub: Hot/Warm Water (plain water)
  3. Sterilization Tub: Boiling Hot Water (use tongs) or cold water with one teaspoon of bleach added to two gallons of water.

I recommend to the Scouts that they soak/pre-wash as much as possible.  Example, if they have a dish that has a huge sauce build up, after they are done using that pot, fill it up with water and let that pot sit.  Scrub as much as that build up off as possible and dispose of in your food garbage pit or into the garbage.

Wouldn’t it be great if you taught this to your kid at home now instead of him having to learn it from some older scout?  Give your son or a leg up in society and teach them something as simple as cleaning a dish will be an invaluable skill for him later in life.  He won’t be the little dweeb that doesn’t know how to do anything at Scout Camp because his mommy loved him too much.  Don’t be that good parent be that awesome parent that teaches their kid something useful in life.

That’s all for today!  As always, your comments (hopefully sarcastic) are always welcome.

Brownie Troop Update: May

Brownie Update: End of the Year!

Our Brownie Meetings for the year are winding down to a close with only one more meeting in June coming up. After my continued behavior at the Brownie Meetings, my daughter’s “wild behavior” hasn’t been an issue. Hmmm. I’ve been helping out the current leaders as have some other parents. My daughter and I even got to bring the snacks for the last meeting. She asked for nice yummy, sugar filled, high calorie, frosting covered doughnuts. Oh yum!

On the day of the Brownie Meeting, I stopped by Happy Donuts (located here in Kent, WA) for two dozen donuts. I love to support small, locally owned businesses and this one fits the bill. Plus the doughnuts are really good.

I did think about bringing some carrots, apple slices, and nuts for a healthy snack choice. But then I thought, why bother? The kids aren’t going to pick that over donuts so I axed that idea.

During our current Brownie Meetings, snack time is near the beginning of the meeting. In hindsight, donuts probably aren’t the best snack for 8 year old girls before they sit down to do a sock puppet craft project. They were a little squirreling listen to Leader J talk about the Girl Scout history and the sock puppet project. She does do a good job on crafts. I’m not a craft person (unless it involves power tools) and I don’t sing either (unless it is an Irish drinking song) so it is nice to have a leader that likes that stuff.

Do to my friction with the current leader administration, I chatted with my daughter about joining another troop (one of the girls that left has joined a troop and her Dad told me about it) or starting our own troop. We have enough girls to start one and I have the training. I also signed up a few other parents to be registered in a pre-emptive preparedness move in the event that I did want to start another splinter cell Brownie troop.

Of course, she wants me to start a new troop. So I did the unthinkable and started my own troop! I called up the Girl Scout office, chatted with my friend about it and she had seen it coming. We can start anytime she said. We haven’t told the current troop leaders we are leaving…yet. I want my daughter to go to the End of the Year Meeting and enjoy the pizza and finish up the last of the craft projects.

Then we might even have our own Brownie Troop meeting before school gets out. I wouldn’t mind a field trip or two during the summer if time permits.

Looking forward to more Girl Scout adventures with my daughter’s new Brownie troop!

Kevin’s Outdoor Training Weekend with the Girl Scouts!

Outdoor 2 Training Weekend March 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s weekend training held at camp Robbinswold on Hood Canal. The weather was the typical Washington State weather: rain, cold, and more rain. After slow progress thru the Tacoma’s Friday evening’s traffic (I discovered a lot of really neat garbage along Interstate 5), I arrived at Camp Robbinswold, a beautiful Girl Scout camp located on Hood Canal, north of Hoodsport.

Our Outdoor 2 started Friday night and ran thru Sunday. I must confess that I wasn’t looking forward to spending the last weekend of March outside. It is cold and rainy; not my idea of fun. I’d much rather be inside with the gas fireplace. Nevertheless, I was going to be outside learning about taking Girl Scouts camping.

What can an Eagle Scout like me learn at a Girl Scout training event? To be honest, the Girl Scouts run an awesome training program and I learned a lot! The weekend turned out to be very informative, well run, and fun. The Outdoor 2 class was taught by three experienced Girl Scout leaders: Donna, Debbie, and Ranger. Overall, I had a great time and would highly recommend these three instructors if you are looking for an Outdoor 2 with the Girl Scouts of Western Washington.

Our class was held outside in a picnic shelter. We discussed Leave No Trace, Dutch oven cooking, box oven baking, cleaning, cooking, keeping warm, etc. on a typical rainy western Washington day. My fellow classmates were mostly women (Russ and I being the only men) and their experience ranged from brand new leaders, to experienced leaders, to soon to be retired WSU employees (with no kids but still helping with a troop). A fair amount of us had camping experience and leading youth groups so we were able to contribute to the discussions in a meaningful way.

One thing I like about the Girl Scout program is that they require you to do the training before you take the Girl Scouts out on a camp out. In fact, before you can take a trip that is longer than four hours, you must take Outdoor 1 (on top of the other perquisite training). This Outdoor 2 really was a good example for new leaders and I was happily impressed with it.

The ladies that lead the weekend were very impressive with their years of knowledge and experience. Ranger, Donna, and Debbie were excellent and I would take another class from them. They were easy to approach with questions, listened, offered suggestions, and were truly very good at their instructor duties.

A few people that know me look at me kind of funny when I mention I had to take the Girl Scouts’ training. They usually ask, aren’t you an Eagle Scout, a former Den Leader, and a current Assistant Scoutmaster? Do you really need to take the training? I probably don’t need to take the camping training but as a Girl Scout Leader, I am required to take it. Overall, I have no arguments with taking the training and being trained in the Girl Scout way. All of the Girl Scout training classes have been excellent with great instructors, an information packet that pertains to the class at hand, and all delivered with a great love of Girl Scouting. While I might have a lot of experience and knowledge, I do not know the Girl Scout way and therefore the training is very good.

However, that isn’t to say that what I bring to the table is discounted or not respected. The Girl Scout leaders have been great to learn from and have welcomed my thoughts, insights, and jokes (I’ve kept my sarcastic wit in check much to my wife’s amazement). Hopefully, my jokes were amusing and didn’t put anyone down (besides myself!).

Overall, the weekend was a great one and I really enjoyed myself. I think the Girl Scouts have a great program. If you have a daughter, I would definitely recommend them joining Girl Scouts. Now, please keep in mind that you might end up being a leader; however, with all of the training offered by the Girl Scouts, you will be well equipped for an excited experience in Scouting.

However, if you are a bit nit picky or have a hard time handling more than one child at a time (please read my previous blog posting of how I ended up at the Outdoor Leadership Training (https://khellriegel.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/is-my-child-really-that-bad/), then you probably should let someone who really enjoys kids lead the troop. Or take a step back and re-evaluate your own life….I’m just saying….

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments! Please leave me a comment!

Snow Camping

Happily, I have returned from one night of snow camping this past weekend with the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scout troop left on Friday morning and spent two nights out there. Luckily, I had First Aide and CPR training so I was able to go up for only one night. My son spent two nights in the igloo he and his fellow scouts built.

Snow camping isn’t my favorite type of camping because, frankly, it is cold. It isn’t just a little cold, it is freezing cold and I really don’t like to be cold. Yes, I admit it; I’m a fair weather camper.

Now that my son is in Boy Scouts, I’ll be doing a lot more camping. Considering that we live in the Seattle area, we’ll be doing a lot of camping in the rain. To my benefit, our Boy Scout troop only does one winter camping trip a year. I personally don’t think I’d want to do more than one winter camping trip a year. Like I said earlier, I like to be warm.

When you are winter camping, you are sleeping outside (in a tent) with the temperature at or below freezing or in an igloo (which is at freezing or below because it is an igloo). Mind you, if you are outside in a tent and it is 20 degrees, it’s darn cold. And if you are in an igloo, you are slightly above freezing because of your body heat and it is still darn cold. Since the temperature in the igloo is slightly above freezing, it is never toasty warm and comfortable until you get into your sleeping bag (which you hope is a very good zero degree bag). Why would you want to be comfortable? That is a silly idea. No, you’ll never be in a nice warm cabin, sleeping in a nice warm bed, with lots of nice warm heat. Instead you’ll be outside in freezing weather, bonding with other equally frozen comrades.

Of course, I’m usually warm during a winter excursion because I’ve learned to stay dry. I have lots of layers of dry clothing and I like them to stay dry. When I was a scout, I was wet and cold during snow camping and it wasn’t very fun. Now, whether it is snow, rain, or sunny camping, I always stay dry, warm, and comfortable. I learned the hard way that camping isn’t much fun when you are miserable, wet, and cold.

Now camping in Hawaii is much more fun and enjoyable. I was fortunate to be able to camp in the Puget Sound and to camp on the island of Kauai (Hawaii) during my scouting career. On Kauai, the camping was warm. However, I do remember at one Camporee (an event where all the troops of the island would get together and camp for a weekend) up at Kokee that it pour rain the whole time. When I talk about the rain to people on the mainland, they always comment “But it was warm rain”. Sure, but water is water and you still get wet and miserable. If you don’t properly cover up your gear, it will get wet and you’ll be even more miserable. And if you happen to be my brother (he is an Eagle Scout like me) you might forget to bring your sleeping bag one year. Luckily for him, I had everyone donate their towels to him to use for blankets. Sure, they didn’t cover his whole body, he looked like a bum on the beach, but at least he was warm that weekend.

If you get a chance to visit Kauai, I highly recommend you consider staying at my parents’ guest cottage. Here’s the link: www.makanacrest.com They also offer wedding services on Kauai and that link is: www.kauaiweddings.com

Brownie (Girl Scout) Leader Update

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.” Abraham Lincoln

As you know, I received a nasty letter from my daughter’s Brownie troop leaders and was quite upset with them about the overall tone of the letter. Frankly, the letter read like a police blotter on everything my daughter had done wrong over the past two Brownie troop meetings. Honestly, I don’t think my daughter is really as bad as this letter portrayed her to be. Of course, every parent thinks their child is perfect. I know she isn’t perfect but whose child is? Well, besides the troop leader’s daughter, right?

Since I was quite upset about this letter, I did think it was for the best to meet with the two Brownie troop leaders in person and discuss the letter and my daughter’s behavior. Note: To read the letter and my response that I almost sent, please refer to my pervious blog “Is my child really that bad?” Now, I did hold back on sending that letter because I thought I should meet these two ladies face to face. It was a sharp response letter and I’m not sure if they could have handled it. When I’m upset, I tend to have a critical tongue. One might say it is a bit blunt and to the point.

I did have to send two requests for this meeting. Upon arrival, only one of the leaders was there. We’ll call her “J” and the other one (we’ll call her “T”) was late. J led me to believe with her spoken comments that she thought T might have some reservations meeting with me. Hmmm, already setting the stage for a confrontation with me? Did she think that I was going to off the handle on them?

Before this meeting, I was prepared to pull my daughter from the troop and either look for another troop or start our own troop. However, my daughter did convey to me that she liked her friends in the troop and did want to stay in Girl Scouts. To be honest, I’m not a quitter and either is my family. I might lose a battle here and there, but in the end I will win the war. Overall, I want my daughter to enjoy her experience in Girl Scouts yet I didn’t want her to be afraid of the leader. Girl Scouts is supposed to be fun; not nit picky. I reflected that I have made a commitment to Boys Scouts with my son and therefore, I should make a commitment to my daughter’s Girl Scout experience as well. With this in mind, I filled out my adult leader application, signed the volunteer agreement, and faxed it in on Friday (prior to my Sunday afternoon meeting). I’m proud to say I am now a registered Girl Scout leader!

The conversation drifted around like a life raft in the South Pacific. J likes to talk and express her unique opinion and her parenting views. She was prepared to go on the defensive with a copy of the behavior contract my wife had signed. Her trump card was this behavior contract. Her mistake was the fact she had it in her hands prepared to whip it out if I started to counter that my daughter’s behavior wasn’t all that bad. However, she left it out where I could see it. I knew I should avoid saying anything that she’d be able refer to the contract and argue that we signed a behavior contact.

Besides, as a new Girl Scout leader, I have to work with her over the next several years. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That is why I always like to compliment my opponents and agree with their position before introducing my position. Since my position is right (and superior), I like to lure my opponents into a false sense of security. I believe that T really didn’t think that the letter wasn’t that bad. Clearly, J had written it and T had just signed her name to it. T didn’t seem too worried about this meeting (contrarily to what J wanted me to believe). We had never had a conflict with T in the past and currently don’t have a problem with her. She is a nice person and honestly wants her daughter to have a great Girl Scout experience.

J on the other hand is another whole other matter. She likes to hide behind the veil of a “detailed” individual. This is her reason and justification of being mean to other people. She thinks that by detailing out all the faults and problems she perceives, it is perfectly alright to point out these out to you because she is “helping” you. Again, everyone has faults and constructive criticism can be a useful tool; when applied correctly.

J does not accept that all people are different. Her world is black and white. She draws her lines in the sand and will not adjust her thinking no matter how wrong she is. It is cemented her brain that her thinking is correct. She can not fathom nor see the other side of an argument. Due to this narrow minded position, she thinks of only one possible outcome: her outcome. This causes conflict with others and leaves her at a serious disadvantage. On the contrast, I can see an argument, a counter argument, and another five possible arguments. She sees her own opinion as the only correct and possible outcome.

This behavior is misguided and convoluted. J is a bully whether she likes it or not. She might believe she is helpful but she isn’t. Her thoughts, words, and actions define her behavior and tell us she is a bully. It is unacceptable behavior and I will not stand idly to the side and let this behavior continued unchecked.

I informed T and J that I thought they were overwhelmed. T agreed with me and J stated that it was hard to get people to volunteer. I agreed with that. I even apologized for not helping out more. I then informed them that I was going to help out more and come to every meeting from now on. T thought this was a wonderful idea and thanked me. J wasn’t as happy and was quick to inform me that I had to be a registered adult leader to be a leader.

Here is what separates the complainers from doers. I wish I could properly express the look on J’s face when I told her I had already faxed in my adult leader application, volunteer agreement, and background check. Her look of “Oh shit…he is coming on board whether I approve or not” was priceless. If you don’t want to get your shoes dirty, then don’t step out in the cow pasture. Don’t send me a letter complaining about my daughter and expect me to roll over and do nothing. That isn’t going to happen.

If there is a problem; I’ll correct it. It is my utmost pleasure to correct the problem and eliminate the friction it is causing.

It was quite delightful to let them know that I had scheduled the following day, my three hour Introduction Course at the Girl Scout office. I believe that J was caught off guard by this. She thought she could stall me out and I’d roll over and go away like other fathers when it comes to their daughters. Really, I’m just father that doesn’t attend any meetings and has no interest in Girl Scouting, right?

Her perception was that I was going to complain that my daughter was being treated unfairly, she shouldn’t be so mean, and I would have my say. She would successfully deflect my complanients when she referred to the behavior contract in her hand. This plan had come screeching to a halt. Instead, I had offered to help. She now found herself in a position of either accepting my help (that she had earlier agreed that she needed) or not accepting it. How could she not accept my help? How could she turn down my years of experience?

In my humble opinion, T and I left the meeting satisfied with the outcome. J had other thoughts about the outcome of the meeting. I didn’t know this until the next day at my Introduction to Girl Scout training at the Girl Scout office.

The following day, training started out quite well with Wendy our local Girl Scout leader. She is very knowledgeable, easy to work with, and overall has a nice personality. She thanked me for volunteering and getting involved in my daughter’s Girl Scout career. I told her that I was an Eagle Scout, I was my son’s Cub Scout den leader for 5 years (with 11 Cub Scouts), and currently a registered assistant scoutmaster with my son’s Boy Scout troop. Furthermore, I know Girl Scouts is not Boy Scouts and I will do everything that the Girl Scouts require of me to be the best leader possible. I have no problem attending classes and camps to make sure I fulfill the needed Girl Scout leader requirements. I will do whatever it takes to be a great Girl Scout leader.

About an hour into our training, Wendys let me know that J had called her about me! She said J had some concerns about me becoming a Girl Scout leader. Can you believe that? The question of why I wanted to be a Girl Scout leader had also been brought up by my wife. My wife asked me why I was becoming a Girl Scout leader. Reflecting on my reasons, I can honestly say that it boils down to this: Scouting is supposed to be fun. Why shouldn’t I give my children equal attention? Whether it is a Boy Scout or Girl Scout activities, I should be there for both of them. As a parent, shouldn’t I protect my children? Isn’t becoming a Girl Scout leader taking that step toward becoming an involved parent? Is being a part of my daughter’s Scouting career a bad thing? With my commitment to Scouting and its values, shouldn’t I pay it forward?

I have gained a great deal over the years from Boy Scouts and I live my life by the Boy Scout Oath and the Boy Scout Law. One of the twelve points of the Boy Scout Law is: A Scout is helpful. I see this as an opportunity to live up to promise I made to myself many years back. A Scout is helpful. My daughter’s Brownie Troop needs help and I’m here to help.

Upon conclusion of my training, I did give Wendy the letter I received from J and T. I told her that this encouraged me to be more active Her impression of J is that J gets bogged down in the details and J forgets that scouting is supposed to be fun. I told her that I had shown the letter to two other Girl Scout troop leaders and they said the same thing: Girl Scouts is supposed to be fun. The letter J wrote didn’t express this. They both said that this leader needs to get a grip when it comes to dealing with 7 and 8 year old girls.

This past week on Wednesday night, I went to the local council’s area meeting. J couldn’t make it because she was feeling “under the weather”. It probably would have burned her up inside if she knew I was there. She didn’t have a chance to tell everyone about me before I made my first Girl Scout leader appearance. As the only male there, I’m sure I’ll be remembered. J will now face an uphill battle if she plans to paint a bad picture of me. I’m the only father willing to be a part of my daughter’s Girl Scout experience and I’m willing to come to this Leader’s meeting to prove it.

Our next Girl Scout Brownie meeting is scheduled for Tuesday February 15. I can’t wait! I plan to make quite a splash with my introduction speech to the parents and the girls present. It should be a night to remember!

Is my child really that bad?

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” -Confucius

Recently, I received a letter from one of my daughter’s Brownie Troop leaders.  It wasn’t a very positive letter.  I fully understand that I am not perfect nor is my daughter perfect.  In fact, everyone has their own personal faults and issues that they need to work through.  Life is a series of challenges and lessons.  How you choose to deal with everyday issues and life in general is entirely up to you.  You will make mistakes in judging others, your thought process will be flawed, and how you choose to solve problems might be ultimately incorrect.  You will embark on worthless causes and choose the wrong battles to fight.  The worst part is that you will be totally unprepared and unaware that you are wrong.

 That is until you meet me.

 You will draw your line in the sand and begin your battle.  Your will justify your attacks and actions with the excuse that you are a teacher.  You will make your lists, point out all the wrong doings, and in your twisted logic, attempt to correct them to your way of thinking.

 If you plan on bringing a war to me, just be prepared to be in for the long haul.  I will be into it until the bitter end.  As Rambo says “I’ll give you a war you’ll never forget”.  I will not back down and I’ll defend my position no matter what.  I will make you my hobby and waste as much time as I like and enjoy defeating you.  Most likely, you are wrong.  I will be your worst nightmare and you will be defeated.

 On that pleasant note, as I told you before I received a letter that stated that my daughter is disrespectful and disruptive.  She challenges her leaders and questions authority.  She is also eight years old. 

As I previously stated, my daughter isn’t perfect, however she isn’t a total crazed, disruptive, and disrespectful girl either.  If she thinks something is unfair, she’ll call you out on it.  You had better be prepared to defend and prove that you are right and justified in your actions.  She isn’t a doormat.

 Am I embarrassed by her?  No.  I’m proud of her assertive nature. 

Is she disrespectful and unhelpful?  Not according to her teachers, friends, friends’ parents, ballet instructors, coaches, and previous Girl Scout leader.  Her teachers often comment on how nice and helpful she is to other students.  In fact, she recently received a Sunshine Award from her school.

 What is different now?  We have a new Girl Scout Co-Leader and it is pretty oblivious she doesn’t like my daughter or our family.  She sent a letter that is more of a log of every petty nit picky item or slight that she perceives our daughter has done.  This is out of character for our daughter.  While some of it could be correct, it is also taken out of context and made a bigger deal out of than necessary.  Here is the letter:

 

Date:  January 19, 2011 

To:  Angie and/or Kevin Hellriegel

 Concerning Kxxxxx Hellrigel

Subject:  We have had some issues that T(other leader) and I thought you as her parent should know about.

 1)  Issue at 1/18th meeting –Kxxxxxx stated that she did not want to do the try it activity, which was the Stitch It Together Try It—I told her we will never make her do something she does not want to but then she does not earn the try it.  Also there is nothing else planned during this time so if she does not want to participate she should not attend.  We are not babysitters.  It takes the two of us to help with the crafts and try its.  We had one additional leader that has moved and no one has offered to take her place.  I had specifically asked one parent to help at this meeting because I felt with needles that 4 adults would be best.  K—-(another mother) was there helping with Tammy and I, but the other parent did not attend.  So if Kxxxxx doesn’t want to participate, we will call you to pick her up.  We will need a phone number where you can be reached during that time.  We do not want other girls affected by her non interest in participating.

 2)  Issue at 1/18th meeting- Indicated that she did not like the Christmas party but she did not even go.  She asked if someone else could host the Christmas party.  I responded yes, but that no one else volunteered .  (seems she has an issue with Nxxxx (another girl)?)

 

3)  Issues at meeting 1/4th (where we discussed cookies)-Kxxxxxx did not want to donate any funds raised to charity.  She was one of three girls who did not want to give any funds back to the community.  As Girl Scouts we should do good in our community just like Boy Scouts.

4)  Did not listen to me -3 times –She wanted to wipe table with really wet sponge in middle of T(other leader)’s talk about cookies. Told her no, to please sit back down and listen.  She did it a bit later anyway, leaving the table really wet and it then had to be dried.

                                       –told her to wait in line for snack for rest of girls to line up for snack buffet style, she started serving herself, had to say wait again.

                                    —told her no she could not use water because I heard her mention water balloons, a little later she had water in the balloon anyway. 

 5)  Issue at 1/4th meeting-Kxxxxx asked if she could have an extra balloon.  When I said no, she loudly told me it was unfair because H and N got a second one.  I had three reasons, not that a teacher should have to explain reasons –was out of tooters because some did not work and girls got a second one, so H did not get one of those and she very nicely asked if she could have an extra balloon instead, N’s first balloon did not work right, I did not have enough balloons to give everyone a second one  and balloon time was almost over. 

 Does not set good example to rest of girls and I will not have my daughter hearing me challenged like that. 

6)  At a previous troop meeting, Kxxxxx pointed out how unfair it was that G (Troop leader’s daughter) got a different napkin than the rest of the girls.  It made G feel uncomfortable but she was doing what I had asked her to do.  I did not have enough for all so asked her to take the different napkin. I explained that to Kxxxxxxxx.  But no “thank you” that at least everyone had a napkin.  Something they would use and throw away afterwards.  Most parents forget to bring napkins if their snack is messy.

 M and Kxxxxxx often come eating treats.  They do not bring for rest of group. This last meeting they had lollipops.  M’s was gone pretty quickly but Kxxxxx had hers well into meeting time.  It has been pointed out that this is unfair.  T and I discussed this and agree.  Our girls are there with us from approximately 3:55pm-6pm and they are not getting treats that they do not share.  So please no treats unless they share with all.  We will be telling all parents this.  If someone comes with treats they do not have enough to share, they will be asked to put it in their bag, pocket or throw it away. 

On the positive side, once Kxxxxxx heard she would not get the try it if she did not do the work, she did participate and she seemed proud of what she did.  She wants to help clean up which is very appreciated at the right time not in middle of leader talking.  (At that time it is distracting.)

 When we send emails concerning Troop events, we would like to receive a response either way if the girl is coming or not.  That way we know the email was received and it allows us to plan the event in a timely way.   

Thank you for helping us offer a positive experience to our troop,

Xxxx Troop Leaders 

As you can imagine, I was pretty upset about this.  Frankly, I was pissed off because I know this lady hates my daughter.  She hides behind God and her Bible using them as an excuse to think she is better than the rest of us.   She justifies her actions by saying they are correct because she is a teacher.  I still don’t understand the teacher reference since she is a stay at home mom and has one kid (that is in the same school as my daughter). 

I can’t stand the condescending attitude this letter has.  I had to let it stew for a while before I wrote a response.  This evening I wrote this but haven’t sent it.  If you want to read what I really wanted to write, please scroll down to the bottom of this blog posting.

 Dear J and T,

 Upon receiving your letter, we were a bit surprised, flabbergasted, and taken back at what has been happening at your troop meetings.  With the first two years of Girl Scouts, we never heard anything negative about Kxxxx’s behavior or attitude.  She honestly enjoyed the meetings and attending the camps during the summer.

 We went thru each point you and  T mentioned in your letter and discussed them with Kxxxx.  We appreciate your candor and no holds bar attitude in how you think you should approach small children in a small group setting.  I personally ran a Cub Scout den for 5 years with 11 boys and I certainly understand the challenges of discipline, leading a meeting, and teaching small children projects. 

Item 1: Needle Point Try It

Clearly, you aren’t a babysitting service and you also aren’t counselors either.  If you had taken the time to talk with Kxxxxx, you would have discovered she is deathly afraid of needles and has a great fear of poking herself.  Sadly, I’m disappointed in lack of empathy and understanding in this matter.  Telling a child she doesn’t have to do the activity is fine; shaming them into doing the activity by telling them to leave is a whole other thing.

 Item 2: N (K’s friend)

Kxxxxx doesn’t have any issues with N or N hosting the Christmas Party.  Kxxxxx likes Nxxxx a great deal.  Kxxxxx wanted to offer to host the party since we were unable to attend the Christmas Party.  She was in fact disappointed she couldn’t attend and her comments probably would have been about her own disappointment of not being there.  We had heard it was a lot of fun.

 Item 3: Cookies and Charity

Are you sending this letter of compliant to the other two daughters about charity or is it just to us?  I wasn’t at your “donation” speech, however, an open discussion about what to do with the funds the girls earn is great.  There should be an open debate about what to do with the money.  I think going to the Great Wolf Lodge is an utterly stupid way to spend the cookie money yet I’ll go along with the majority.  Girls will be girls.  Some of them might want to donate all of the money to charity and others might want to not donate anything.  As a leader, you should guide them into making good choices.  Most of the girls will make the correct choices if given the right examples.

Item 4: Listening

In regards to wiping the table with a wet sponge during T’s speech, Kxxxxx was trying to be helpful like she is at home.  She told us that she did get too much water on the table and tried to dry it up with a towel but you stopped her.  You didn’t allow her to correct the problem she thought she created.  In our house, we hold our children responsible for their messes.  If we create a big mess (mind you water isn’t that big of a deal), we want them to clean it up.  What if that was soda pop, grape juice, or milk she spilled?  Would you have let it sit there until after the speech was finished or would you have allowed her to clean it up?  It makes no sense to complain about the water and you having to clean it up.  Kxxxx would have and should have cleaned it up. 

The snack buffet line also doesn’t make sense.  She was the first one in line, thought she could take the snack but then was told she couldn’t.  Pick your battles.  Do you keep a log of everything Kxxxxx does wrong? 

Water Balloon:  She was cleaning the spit out of her balloon.

 Item 5: The Extra Balloon

Seriously?  Kxxxxx grew up in a house with two older brothers and she has to speak loud and ask questions.  I appreciate her assertive nature and that she is a leader and not a doormat to be stomped on.  I can’t believe that no other child has dared to challenge you if they have seen an injustice being done.  Maybe boys are different but they certainly have inquisitive minds and asked questions on why we did things the way we did. I encouraged my den to challenge me and come up with solutions.  As a leader, you should have to explain yourself if it appears you might be playing favorites.  Even if you aren’t playing favorites, the key is that it appears you are playing favorites.  You should be called out if you are playing favorites and you should offer an explanation of why you are passing out a second balloon.  Heck, I would have totally called you out on passing out a second balloon if I saw you doing that.  Then as a leader, you should explain that you didn’t have enough tooters because some didn’t work and you were replacing them with balloons.  That makes sense to a 2nd grader and they would appreciate the honesty.

 Item 6:  Napkins and Treats

Really?  I never heard you come to Kxxxxx’s defense when other children asked her about her sores she had on her arms.  You were standing right next to me when I told the little girl that asked that question that was impolite to ask someone.  I agree that napkins aren’t a big deal so why are you making a big deal out of it.

 The snacks issue was a bit out of my control.  You know that Kxxxxx and Mxxxxx are dropped off by M’s Mother.  I have discussed with M’s Mother about the snack issue and she won’t allow the children to bring a snack to the meetings anymore. 

In conclusion, we haven’t ever received any negative comments from her teachers, friend’s parents, ballet school instructors, or sports programs coaches about her behavior.  She is often singled out for her helpful behavior and great attitude.  In fact, she just received a Sunshine Award last week.  While our daughter is far from perfect, like many girls her age, it greatly saddens us that you have singled out our daughter to find fault in.  Kxxxxxx feels like you dislike her and I would agree with her assessment of the situation.

 Sincerely,

 Kevin

OK, that was my nice version of the letter I am going to send.  Now here is the version I want to send.  I won’t but I’ll post it on my blog anyway.  Freedom to express my opinion!  God Bless America!

 Date:  January 19, 2011

 To:  Angie and/or Kevin Hellriegel

 Concerning Kxxxxx Hellrigel Thanks for misspelling our last name.

 

Subject:  We have had some issues that T(other leader) and I thought you as her parent should know about.  (Mainly she had issues but she’s dragging in the other leader as well…you might as well throw your friends under the bus as well).

1)  Issue at 1/18th meeting –Kxxxxxx stated that she did not want to do the try it activity, which was the Stitch It Together Try It—I told her we will never make her do something she does not want to but then she does not earn the try it. That’s fair.  She didn’t do the work, she shouldn’t get the badge.   Also there is nothing else planned during this time so if she does not want to participate she should not attend.  WTF?  Did K know that you were doing this activity ahead of time?  Did you send my eight year old daughter an email about it?  Or perhaps it was a psychic message?  As an alterative, you don’t have some paper and pens for kids that finish early?  That is called poor planning.   We are not babysitters.  No shitI would never let you watch my child without other adults around.   It takes the two of us to help with the crafts and try its.  We had one additional leader that has moved and no one has offered to take her place. Need help?  Guess who is now going to be your new co-leader…ME!!!  I had specifically asked one parent to help at this meeting because I felt with needles that 4 adults would be best.  K—-(another mother) was there helping with T and I, but the other parent did not attend.  So if Kxxxxx doesn’t want to participate, we will call you to pick her up.  Seriously?  What if one of the scouts finishes up before the others?  Are you going to call their parents to come early because you don’t have anything else for them to do?  We will need a phone number where you can be reached during that time Don’t you have my phone number?  We have been in the troop for three years?.  We do not want other girls affected by her non interest in participating.  Yes, my daughter’s lack of participating in needle work is awful.  She is deathly afraid of needles and is afraid of poking herself.  Maybe if you took the time to ask why she didn’t want to do it then you’d be a better leader.  I don’t think shaming her into participating is part of the Girl Scout way, do you?

 2)  Issue at 1/18th meeting- Indicated that she did not like the Christmas party but she did not even go.  She asked if someone else could host the Christmas party.  I responded yes, but that no one else volunteered .  (seems she has an issue with Nxxxx (another girl)?)

She doesn’t have an issue with her friend N.  Stop trying to be a therapist when you clearly aren’t qualified to offer that opinion.  She was asking if she could host the next party and she was disappointed that she wasn’t able to go to this year’s party.  Again, arguing with an eight year old doesn’t make any sense.

3)  Issues at meeting 1/4th (where we discussed cookies)-

Kxxxxxx did not want to donate any funds raised to charity.  She was one of three girls who did not want to give any funds back to the community.  As Girl Scouts we should do good in our community just like Boy Scouts.  Seriously?  Did the other two girls’ parents get letters about their child’s lack of charity?  (No they didn’t).  K even said that they talked about it and she did agree with donating some of the money after the discussion.  Are you saying that I’m a bad parent because this wasn’t the first answer out of her mouth?

4)  Did not listen to me -3 times –Hell, I don’t want to listen to your nit picky crap at any time.  She wanted to wipe table with really wet sponge in middle of T(other leader)’s talk about cookies. Next time I’ll tell her to use a dry sponge.  Told her no, to please sit back down and listen.  She made a mess and wanted to clean it up because she is responsible.  At our house, if you make the mess you help clean up the mess.  She did it a bit later anyway, leaving the table really wet and it then had to be dried.  It is water from a sponge.  Of course it is going to be wet.  And you didn’t let her dry it up.  Please stop being a martyr.  Put your leader pants on, tell her to use a towel and have her dry it up!

                                       –told her to wait in line for snack for rest of girls to line up for snack buffet style, she started serving herself, had to say wait again.  She was first in line, grab a snack, then heard you say not to start.  Oops.  Send her to jail for being ahead of the game.

                                    —told her no she could not use water because I heard her mention water balloons, a little later she had water in the balloon anyway.  Actually, she was cleaning out the balloon.  Was the balloon filled up and ready to be thrown?  Or was the balloon “wet” from being washed off?

5)  Issue at 1/4th meeting-Kxxxxx asked if she could have an extra balloon.  When I said no, she loudly told me it was unfair because H and N got a second one.  I agree, it is unfair.  Why do they get two and the others only get one?  Isn’t two greater than one?  That is unfair in my book.  I had three reasons, not that a teacher should have to explain reasons YES, you do need to explain yourself.  If someone thinks it is unfair then you should explain why it isn’t unfair.  There is a reason why they have come to that conclusion.  As a good leader, it is your job to educate them why it isn’t unfair. –was out of tooters because some did not work and girls got a second one, so H did not get one of those and she very nicely asked if she could have an extra balloon instead, N’s first balloon did not work right, I did not have enough balloons to give everyone a second one  and balloon time was almost over.  Be honest, explain this to the girls and they will understand.  When I see the reason, it makes sense to me.  I’m pretty sure if you took the time to explain it, then they would understand.

Does not set good example to rest of girls and I will not have my daughter hearing me challenged like that.  Here is the real reason behind the letter.  WTF?  You should be challenged if someone sees you doing an unjust thing like favoritism.  You had a good reason for giving away a second balloon but you failed to use this opportunity to explain why you were giving out the second balloon.  In an eight year old’s eyes, she sees someone getting a second balloon and that is unfair.  You do need to explain yourself.

 6)  At a previous troop meeting, Kxxxxx pointed out how unfair it was that G (Troop leader’s daughter) got a different napkin than the rest of the girls.  It made G feel uncomfortable but she was doing what I had asked her to do.  Oh, but you don’t say anything when a girl points out my daughter’s sores on her arms?  I’m the one that had to point out that was impolite thing to ask.  Where were you then Mrs. Manners Police?  I did not have enough for all so asked her to take the different napkin. I explained that to Kxxxxxxxx.  But no “thank you” that at least everyone had a napkin.  OK, I’m confused.  Why does she need to say “Thank You?”  Was the “Thank You” for the napkin or the lame explanation you gave?  Pretty petty thing to hold against a kid.  The troop leader was slighted so let’s put it on the kid’s record of wrongdoing.  Something they would use and throw away afterwards.  Most parents forget to bring napkins if their snack is messy.  All this bitching and moaning about a napkin you admit isn’t that important?  What a fricking power struggle you have with my daughter!

M and Kxxxxxx often come eating treats.  They do not bring for rest of group. My daughter carpools with the other girl’s mother!  The troop leaders know this because I pick up the girls.  We have done this for the past two years!  This last meeting they had lollipops.  M’s was gone pretty quickly but Kxxxxx had hers well into meeting time.  It has been pointed out that this is unfair.  Life is unfair.  If life was fair I’d be superrich, married to a supermodel, and living on an island paradise instead of reading this crap.  T and I discussed this and agree.  Our girls are there with us from approximately 3:55pm-6pm and they are not getting treats that they do not share.  So please no treats unless they share with all.  We will be telling all parents this.  If someone comes with treats they do not have enough to share, they will be asked to put it in their bag, pocket or throw it away.  This isn’t a bad policy.  Am I going to be asked to throw away my latte because I didn’t bring one for each of the other parents?  Are they going to think it is unfair that I have a latte and they don’t?

 On the positive side (Finally some good news…I guess no one every told her that you can catch more flies with honey that vinegar), once Kxxxxxx heard she would not get the try it if she did not do the work, she did participate and she seemed proud of what she did.  So once she was threatened, then she did the work.  She wants to help clean up which is very appreciated at the right time not in middle of leader talking.  (At that time it is distracting.) OK.  Back to the leader talking part….it is OK to be helpful but under your terms and conditions.  That’s a good lesson to teach our daughters.

 When we send emails concerning Troop events, we would like to receive a response either way if the girl is coming or not.  That way we know the email was received and it allows us to plan the event in a timely way.  Then send me the email and write on there RSVP.  If it doesn’t have RSVP on it, then the email is merely information for me; not an invitation.

 Thank you for helping us offer a positive experience to our troop,

Xxxx & Xxxxx Troop Leaders

(Seriously?  This is a positive experience?)

As you can read, I’m a tad bit upset about this whole thing.  My wife and I both know that this troop leader doesn’t like us or our daughter.  She makes it perfectly clear at every meeting.  We thought we could tolerate it because you have to deal with all kinds of people in life.  I really don’t know what she has against us.  However, if she is going to remain a leader then we think we need to find a better troop for our daughter.  Other people don’t have a problem with our daughter and a lot of the girls’ parents like our daughter.  We have a conflict with this leader and the only two solutions we appear have to have are: quit and join a new troop or ask the leader to step down.

 I’m fine with either one.  I am willing to step up and become a co-leader of my daughter’s troop if needed.  If it’s a fight she wants, then it’s a fight she’ll get.  Bring it on!