And Then They Made Me Clean Latrines
I’m pretty sure that the Girl Scout organization is in violation of the Geneva Conventions, or, at the very least, the 8th Amendment Constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
After I graciously agreed to give my time and energy to be a Girl Scout leader? (Please don’t tell anyone I’m a Girl Scout leader, I have a bad-ass image to protect.) After I volunteered for the good of the girls? After I did so knowing that “good of the girls” would involve camping? After I signed up for said camping trip with twelve of the sixteen girls in our troop? After I drove up mountain roads with four carsick girls? After I left my king-size bed, 400-thread-count sheets, and gave up two day’s worth of hawt green beans? After two nights of sleeping in a sleeping bag, on a bunk bed, in a cabin filled with eight-year-old girls? After following the no-hair dryer rule? After only violating the no-cell phone rule a little bit? After leaving my laptop boyfriend home alone? After I was fed very small portions of burned carbohydrates for two days? After I dealt with sleep-talking girls, girls who needed to go to the bathroom in the wee hours of the night, girls who took turns needing one thing or another, girls who were otherwise perfect but still numbered twelve?
After all of that?
The Girl Scout camp director made us clean latrines. Yes, she did so. And? She wouldn’t check us out of our cabin or return our medical forms to us until she’d inspected said latrines. Inspected. Holding a clipboard. You can’t make up this kind of stuff.
Now, let me be clear. Just in case
Last Place Finisher someone out there is thinking, “So? I’ve cleaned toilets when I was in the Air Force before I had a housekeeper. Stop your whining.” Yeah, yeah. I’ve cleaned toilets too. At home. One at a time. People? These latrines? The latrines at camp? Five fricking toilets, five fricking sinks, and five fricking showers, used by 48 fricking people who are not members of my immediate family. And? They tried to make me clean out the sanitary napkin disposal containers. I am not making that up. They tried. I had to draw the line there. If I didn’t put anything into those toxic-waste containers, you can be damn skippy sure I was not taking anything out.
This latrine cleaning? That I did? (Oh, yes, I did.) Bothered me on many levels, and I’m wondering what y’all think (and, if you think I’m a whiner, say so in the comments, but just know that I might be invoking my dusty trial-lawyer skillz in a reply). In addition to how gross and disgusting it was to clean a stranger’s hair out of a shower drain (even with two pair of rubber gloves), okay really just one pair of rubber gloves, but still, one of the things that bothered me was that they wanted the girls to do the latrine cleaning.
Now, I’m all about our kids learning responsibility, cleaning up after themselves, serving others, and not having every experience be fairy tales and silver spoons prepared in advance by a team of overachieving mothers. But eight-year-olds cleaning public latrines at camp? The camp provided several bottles of various chemicals (in unmarked plastic bottles), mops, sponges, and gloves. I had twelve girls who may or may not have allergies/sensitivities to chemicals, and I had bottles of cleaning solutions of unknown chemical content. Not to mention that these third-grade girls probably all have little or no experience handling chemicals and toxic waste. So I set them to work sweeping out the cabin, bunks, and porches. I cleaned the latrines. And I left the sanitary napkin disposal containers untouched by me.
Also? I see this as a feminist issue. (Last Place Finisher, don’t even start with me. We’ve known each other for a long time, and leopards don’t change their spots.) Tom and Laura go camping with their YMCA Princess tribe several times per year, and Not Even Once has Tom or any of the other dads been told to clean public latrines. Most of the volunteer work in schools and community organizations falls to the hands of women, who to some degree allow themselves to be exploited for the good of the children. Don’t get me wrong. I’m usually the first one to sign up. In the modern workplace, women still earn only 69 cents on the dollar compared to our male counterparts. It is common knowledge that women perform the bulk of unpaid work in our society. And, according to my research (a comparative study between Girl Scouts and YMCA Princesses), only women volunteers are scrubbing latrines.
I plan to do more than simply rant about this and then sign up again for camp again next year. I plan to rant about this and then check in to someplace next year that comes with a bell captain, room service, and Internet access.
Readers, Take the poll:
1. Cleaning latrines at Girl Scout camp is asking too much of volunteer moms.
2. There’s no real difference between trial law and latrine cleaning. Shut up.
3. What? You didn’t pay your housekeeper to come to camp? Suckah.
4. You win for using more question marks than periods in paragraph two.
(Image and cartoon courtesy of Google.)