Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Welcome to the Jungle Gym, We've Got Fun & Games...

As most of you know, I am a girl scout leader and have been for five years. It is an exceptional organization or I would have nothing to do with it. My only beef with them is the constant level of caution regarding everyday things.

I was looking through the organization's safety manual because I'm thinking of taking my troop abroad when they turn 14 (which makes me practically a terrorist in the Council's eyes). I came across a section devoted to playground safety. And let me tell you - I couldn't make this crap up.

"Girls should not use playground equipment without adult supervision." Okay, I guess that's reasonable if it's a troop event - but most of my playground days were decidedly un-supervised. In fact - I'd find it creepy to be under constant surveillance by an adult at a playground. Aren't there laws about people like that?

"Leaders must teach girls to use equipment properly, safely, and as intended." Um, does that mean I have to demonstrate each piece of equipment for them? I haven't been able to fit my big old but on those teeny slides since I was old enough to play on a playground. Can you picture an adult leading girls from piece to piece, lecturing them on how to use it? I don't know if you've been to a playground recently, but there are a whole lot of thingys there I can't figure out. Fortunately, my kids don't need me to show them as they are ingrained with such knowledge.

"Girls should not run on the playground." Huh? Is it even possible for kids to be at a playground and not run? These days, they can't run at school, recess, the pool, etc. Hell, tag is banned from some schools to avoid injury. TAG?! If you can't run on the playground - where can you run???

"Clothing should be snug-fitting or tucked in to avoid snagging or tangling in any of the playground equipment. Wearing clothing with drawstrings on a hood or around the neck is not permitted." THEY HAVE DRESS CODES FOR PLAYGROUNDS NOW???

"Physical activities are separate from more passive or quiet activities; areas for play equipment, open fields, and sandboxes are in different sections of the playground." Sure, I'll just re-arrange that for you...can you give me a hand lifting this swingset?

"Traffic patterns are clearly separate for individual pieces of equipment." I don't even know what this means!

"The playground does not have rocks, roots, and any other protrusions from the ground that may cause the girls to trip." Are you serious? First I have to demonstrate, then re-arrange the equipment, now I have to overhaul the landscaping? Where the hell were these people when I would skate down my sidewalk (in metal skates requiring a key, nonetheless) and hit a pebble - launching me airborne until I came to a skin shredding stop on the pavement?

Believe it or not, these are only a few of the regulations regarding playground usage for girl scouts. I just didn't want to take up three or four pages. But I think you get my point.

Thank the Nine Muses we don't have that many restrictions in this business. Can you imagine writing without taking any risk? My characters get shot at, attacked by bears, and use circular knitting needles to garrote people.

Hmmm...I wonder what the girl scout council would say about that?
By the way, the photo is of my troop having three-legged the camp. That's right. We live on the edge.

The Assassin


Jana DeLeon said...

Let's face it - the real reason all those "rules" probably exist is so that no one can sue the Girl Scouts if their little darling is hurt doing a completely normal kid activity. (sigh)

Gemma Halliday said...

In the dark? Running? Children?! You are a rebel, Leslie.


Jenyfer Matthews said...

I can't wait to hear about the regulations they lay on you regarding traveling with the little darlings!!!

You know, in my part of the world there are still metal merry-go-rounds in some of the playgrounds! Wonder how you could get one of those going and NOT run?? And what sort of traffic pattern that would create? LOL

Christie Craig said...

Loved the post. Reminds me of the Country & Western song about how life used to be when none of used bike helmets or even car seats.

Don't get me wrong, I like bike helmets and car seats, but sometimes safety can be taken to the extreme.

Crime Scene Christie

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree, but you and I both know there are children who have been injured and/or killed on play ground equiptment. All the playground equiptment at my elementary school was removed the first week I was there because of an injury---and Jana is right. Nobody wants to be sued, but everybody wants to sue and win a lifetime supply of money....(Not that all injuries are exaggerated. Some of these people need a bunch of money for health care costs over the lifetime of an injured child/person.)
I was in Girl Scouts from 2nd grade through high school and loved every minute of it. I still know, and sing, all of the songs I learned at the meetings and at camp. (Unfortunately, none of them have been featured on DON'T FORGET THE LYRICS.)
My troup had many fundraisers, an annual garage sale, etc. and raised enough money for a trip to Mexico. We were supposed to stay in Mexico City for a few days, then go on to Acupoco. But, alas! By the time we took the trip we were teenagers. Too many of us had fallen in love with local guys, so we stayed in Mexico City the entire time, and cried when we had to leave our sweetharts. Lot of fun. Good for you for being a leader!!!

Lucy said...

Meanwhile we see the daily reports about child obesity because they're sedentary. But I'm sure there's not connection. Geez.

I think I'd want to try to get onto some board to see about making some changes to that, if I could.

Estella said...

Have you read the regulations regarding taking them abroad

Tori Lennox said...

Ye gods. I imagine Jana's right about it being so they can't be sued. But when you start reading all this it's just INSANE!

Leslie Langtry said...

Actually, there are courses you have to take before the trips, you have to ask permission from the Council to go THREE YEARS in advance and start a steady papertrail over said three years up until you go. Then, there's insurance, working with the State Department, etc. And we're just thinking of going to the Girl Scout Center - My Cabana - in Mexico!

When I was in junior high, my troop rented an rv and drove with three leaders to Washington DC. We spent two weeks running around the monuments, staying at the Catholic U. dorms, seeing a show at the Kennedy Center, visiting our senator and riding the metro. It was AWESOME! I don't remember any permission forms, accreditation, insurance or anything associated with that trip. We loved it.

Actually, I think our leaders wouldn't even have tried it if they had the hassle we have to go through now.

As for the playground - look at the terrified and frightened faces of my girls in the photo. ;)


JSTBOOK said...

Interesting... If you want a safe playground for your children or prevent playground accidents. You can set up a small outdoor playground or a park to put in all commercial playground equipment for more fun. Learning toys and activity toys also make wonderful. The opportunities to build social skills, confidence and self-esteem, as well as creativity happen every day as kids run, climb, kick, jump, ride, and make believe.