Fan Friday—Telling a Story

Today, my son is back in jail. For at least two months. And I’m going to tell you a story:


In 1972, my friend Wendy said, “Let’s go to Girl Scout camp!” So we did. And I went back every year, once for a two-month stretch, until 1981 when I was hired as staff. I worked there until 1984.

Oh, I was still a Scout after that, on and off, and volunteered as a troop leader, delegate, trainer, cookie chair, and so forth. And I got married and had a few kids.

And then one of them had a few problems.


It started with a few lies; some trouble at school, an expulsion. Removal from the bus, kicked out of Boy Scouts. More lies, and stealing—from us, but some questionable “deals” with friends too. Then it moved to school suspension, more lies, tormenting his brother—not just regular stuff, but more—and another expulsion.

Then the violence began. He physically fought with his dad; he called me vile names. He trashed our house. He lied even to officers, over and over, and to caseworkers and school officials. And he hit me.

I pressed charges.

He spent three weeks in juvie, and was an angel when he got out. For exactly 24 hours. Ten days later, he was back in juvie, but this time something different happened.

He was put into protective custody, because he claimed his dad beat him.

We went to court. The judge ordered him into foster care to, and I quote, “Give his parents a break. They need it.”

So, because of this, we had to have “family meetings.” The caseworker, bless her heart, was just out of school and had no kids, no pets even, and started every session with, “No shaming, no blaming!”

That just didn’t set well with me.

And I said, “Of course, he should be ashamed of his behavior and of course it’s his fault—he’s sixteen, he’s knows right from wrong, he deliberately becomes violent and lies.”

Anyone who has dealt with or read stories about social services knows that common sense is often sadly lacking.

That was six years ago.


This past fall, I renewed my Girl Scout membership. I signed up to volunteer and received an email saying I’d passed the background check, etc. Come winter, I applied for and was hired to be a summer program specialist, part-time. I also volunteered to be a camp promoter, attended a kick-off event, and one promo event at a local school.

And finally, this summer, I could go back to camp!

Except I couldn’t.

Two days before the training was scheduled, I received a phone call. It seems more background info had arrived at Council, and according to social services, it was substantiated that I had “shamed a child.” Council wanted to ask me about this.

So I told them everything.

And I was fired. I was told, and again I quote, “We can’t have you around our girls.”


My son was in and out of jails several times, petty theft, etc., and a year and a half ago he spent six months in jail on robbery and property damage charges; this is the case that is still pending. In spite of telling me he’d taken care of things, he hadn’t, and so he violated his probation from a year ago. Rumor has it that he may be sentenced to two years in prison. I don’t know yet. Sentencing is in July.

But he’s the reason that I can never go back to the place I’ve always loved the most. Yet, he’s still my son.

I look back at all the sacrifices I made for my children, over the years, like most parents do. They don’t seem so difficult in retrospect, but this . . . this may be the worst. All my memories are tainted with that one sentence:

“We can’t have you around our girls.”





13 comments on “Fan Friday—Telling a Story

  1. Sharon says:

    I read all your posts and don’t always comment. Today, however, I am.
    I know your heart is doubly broken, first by your son, next by the Girl Scouts. I’m sorry this happened to you and I truly believe it is their profound loss. You’re a terrific lady and have so much to bring to the girls. That said, it sounds like they aren’t wanting to live in the real world. I can only wonder what will happen if they get a problem girl. Probably admonish her by giving her cookies and a hug. Your friends love you.


  2. I’m sorry to hear this, but thank you for sharing it.


  3. Julia says:

    I worked at Camp Cedarledge for several years about 15 years ago, and while the people who actually worked at camp were great, the decisions made by Council were often wildly misguided. I’m sorry to hear that hasn’t changed.


  4. Debbi Menteer says:

    Dear Robin,
    first let me say how sorry I am one of your loved ones has trouble dealing with life. I know from personal experience how difficult that can be. I assume it even more devastating when its your child. Second to have an organization that is so dear to you, that you have honored and given too, to have them do to you what must feel like a slap in the face, is just flat WRONG. Please know you are not alone. Thanks for sharing and I hope someday the pain of the words “We can’t have you around our girls.” lessons and no longer taints you awesome memories.


  5. Robin, I’m so sorry….


  6. Karen says:

    Robin, I’m so sorry all of this happened. I don’t have any better words than Sharon’s reply… except to second that this is their profound loss. Sending you a big hug…


  7. Unbelievable, Robin…just unbelievable and clearly there is no justice in this matter. Shame on the Girl Scout “officials” and “Social” services who apparently do not THINK at all. What is the matter with them?

    Clearly your son owes you BIG TIME. If he was any kind of a man, he would clear the record, but now with his reputation, they won’t believe him anyway.
    Being accused wrongly of something does taint your life forever–may you forgive your son at some point and come to peace with this issue–he’s got his own questionable “reputation” to deal with.

    It makes me so angry to hear this. “We can’t have you around our girls” is an incredible insult, I would not be surprised if you moved a legal action for slander against the people who made that “brilliant” decision.
    Hugs and peace of mind to you, Robin. Know we care. ~R


  8. Margie says:

    Robin, I am very sad to read this. Maybe all of us who know you need to make a trip to the Council. I would not hesitate to leave my girls with you (if I actually had any.)


  9. marcia says:

    Hugs to my dear friend………


  10. Mary Frances Campbell says:

    I’m profoundly disappointed and sshame of the actions taken by the GSEM. This is ridiculous and unforgivable. I understand your disappointment and rage. You’ve been a blessing to every person you come in contact with. I will always stand beside you as your friend no matter what! God bless! Love and hugs, Pokey 🙂 ♡


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