Over the past 3 years - Maddy has been a Girl Scout.
For the most part, it has been a wonderful experience - her leader was amazing with an obvious heart for the girls and in the past two years, I joined her to help co-lead the troop.
Each year - I would volunteer to be the 'Cookie Mom' and our February and March was spent selling cookies in our neighbourhood and helping the rest of the troop fill their cookie orders.
It was a lot of work and a lot of time - but I think it helped teach the girls some valuable lessons.
There is a big emphasis on safety within the Girl Scouts - keeping the Girls safe is a big priority. I had to teach them each year that they could only sell cookies when there is a grown up present and they are never to go to the door of a house on their own.
They need to be kept safe.
That is why it was such a shock for me last year when I realized as a volunteer, I was not afforded that same level of care.
You see last year, I offered to be a 'Cookie Cupboard' so, in effect, I was not just holding cookies for my troop - I was holding them for the area.
Other cookie moms who needed extra cookies, could place their order with me and then call to confirm collection.
I was made to set up a list of hours that I would be available for people to collect cookies and I would then do all of the paperwork necessary to keep on track with what we had left/who the cookies had gone to etc.
I had no idea how much of a huge task this was.
I was given no training on any of it, just a presentation sent via email the day before over $50,000 worth of cookies arrived on my door.
But I just rolled with it and hit the ground running.
There were teething troubles - not least because I ended up with shingles and had to narrow down my hours of operation for a few days, but with 2 days off I was back up and running.
During my 'down time' I changed my hours of operation to aid with my recovery and give me some well-needed family time. There were 3 other cookie cupboards within a 4 mile radius, so I knew people would not have to go too far out of their way for a little while, just whilst I got back on my feet.
When 'The powers that be' saw I had narrowed my hours, I was called and told I was not open enough and that I would have to extend them.
I was a little miffed by this, not least because I had shingles and I was a potential danger to anyone who was pregnant - but also because I felt like crap and THIS IS A VOLUNTEER POSITION! Yet here was I, with a paid, salaried member of the Girl Scouts on the phone to me - telling me, a volunteer (that they never gave a moment of training to) that I was not doing good enough.
But wait, we haven't gotten to the worst bit yet.
In the middle of February - whilst taking my husband and family out for dinner on his 40th Birthday I got a call. I answered the call at the table and was faced with a very pissed off sounding guy. A guy that I had met a few times before when he had showed up at my house to collect cookies. I say 'showed up' because I had tried to let him know that he needed to call me before heading over to me, which he had done a few times before.
I let him know I was not at home - but would be back within an hour or we could schedule a time tomorrow for pickup. He was obviously not a happy bunny.
When we arrived home 40 minutes later - our basketball net had been hacked down and then cut up and scattered over the drive.
And it scared me.
We checked all the neighbours nets and they were all just fine. This wasn't a 'basketball net gang' rampaging through the neighbourhood.
And over the next few days - whilst Jay and I processed this information, it dawned on us that I had given this idiot a blueprint of exactly when I was home (most of the time alone or just with the kids) and we were not comfortable.
I mean, if someone could deface your property because he wasn't able to pick up his cookies (that he had not called and checked for!!?) then what else was he capable of??
And Girl Scouts is all about keeping the girls safe...no?
Well, apparently not!
I emailed 2 people within the organization, one local and one high-up to let them know what had transpired and that I was not comfortable dealing with this man anymore.
They emailed me back letting me know that 'it is in everyones best interests' to shut my cookie cupboard down the following day.
I was being punished for wanting to keep this man away from my family.
This all happened this time last year and for the most part it still stings. It still worries me that Girl Scouts are not doing enough to protect their volunteers. They harp on about the safety of the girls...but the volunteers are obviously a different story.
My attempts to contact Girl Scouts about this - were continually thwarted. Ranks were closed.
So - this year, during cookie season, I will happily support any little poppet who arrives on our doorstep selling cookies! But as for me or Maddy being involved with the Girl Scout? - Never again.