Would you even send a nine-year-old, for that matter? My daughter is a Daisy Scout, and we went to our first lock-in together over the weekend. I wasn’t feeling all that well—and I had been up the entire night before writing—so you can bet it was a rough night! But we had fun, my kid was a trooper, and we went home a couple hours early because, let’s face it, most seven-year-olds can’t stay up until six AM!
Though my daughter had to have a parent due to her Daisy status, any scouts in second grade or higher did not have to have a parent present. This, to me, was mind-boggling. It wasn’t like the kids were assigned a group leader to stick to all night long—or if they were, I sure didn’t notice it. I saw children my daughter’s age milling about, sometimes all alone, and sometimes even in the pool area.
This was shocking to me. I know I’ve been more protective of my child than other parents at some points in my life; she was premature and I spent the first three months of her life worrying over her incubator, changing diapers around a cluster of wires, and gently shaking her if she “forgot” to breathe and her stats sank. That’s sheer terror, folks, and I can tell you that after something like that, you’re damn skippy a mom is careful.
That said, my daughter’s been climbing the big boulder at our park since she was four with me spotting. She’s brave and strong and awesome, and I don’t hold her back—but I do make sure I’m there if she needs me. She didn’t know anyone during this lock-in, for example—it was our first activity with scouts—but when she did play with new friends, I hung back, found a spot, and smiled, occasionally taking pictures.
But to not go at all—to leave a child that young to navigate a whole recreation center, including pool, alone just boggles my mind. Another mom pointed out a tiny girl she’d been watching at the pool who was all alone, smaller than my daughter. The mom was there with her own kids, but she confessed that this poor kid was so small that she was keeping an eye on her, too.
After that, I made it a point to do the same, but I still couldn’t help but wonder at people who just assume it’s fine to drop their kids off—whether it’s at a camp or a lock-in or anything else. Believe me, I would love a cheap sitter, too, and a night off is tempting! But I would never put my child in jeopardy like that and just assume she’d be under someone’s watchful gaze the entire time just for one night off.