Day Camp Pick up - Am I Being Ridiculous or Are They?

Updated on August 22, 2013
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
23 answers

My younger boys are in a day camp this week at our local YMCA. The camp is less than a mile from my house. Part of the reason that I picked this camp for this week is that on Tuesday and Thursday, when I'm in the office, it is within walking distance so one of my older kids (who are both 15) can pick them up and walk them home at the end of the day at around 4 PM instead of me leaving work early or them having to stay there late until my husband or I can pick them up at 6. My kids have gone to two other day camps run by the rec department and by a school and for those, there were no issues with having my older kids walk them home or having one of my sitters who drives - who is 17 - pick up from the camps that are not in walking distance. There is of course a form that you fill out listing who can pick up and both of my teenagers are listed for this week.

Well yesterday was an office day for me and the camp called saying that my older son was there for pick up and he wasn't on the form. I told the girl who works the afternoons (who I seriously think is in high school herself) that he is on the form and she checked and said "oh yeah, I see it now" and that was that. The camp director told me this morning that they cannot release a child to someone under 18. This wasn't spelled out anywhere and makes no sense whatsoever. She basically said "well that's our policy and we can't change it." A policy that's not mentioned in the 9 pages of paperwork that I filled out for this? If they really hold their ground on this I can't send my kids to day camp tomorrow and will have to have them stay home with my daughter for the day. If that's the case, I want the Y to credit my account (it's $40 per day per child) for the lost day because now I have to pay my daugther to baby-sit due to their asinine policy.

Before I call them and ask for a waiver to the policy or a refund for I out of line to expect that it's totally reasonable to release a child to a teenager at the end of the day? Heck they are allowed to walk home from school unattended!

What can I do next?

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answers from San Francisco on

Ugh, I hate it when "policies" don't take into account real life common sense.
I would fight back on this one.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Just to add to some of the other moms' suggestion of asking them to show you where it says that in the policy....

I would point out that all of their employees should be over 18 as well, if that is their policy. I guarantee you there are high-school age kids working for them and getting paid minimum wage.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

I think it is stupid and unless they can produce the policy they should chill! My older kids were allowed to pick up their sibs from school, heck everywhere including the YMCA latchkey program so I think they are trying to cover their ignorance by being more ignorant.

I digress. Talk to a mom, any mom, perhaps the cool mom because they tend to not helicopter, say hey, can I put you on my list so you can hand them off to their brothers? I would do it, I am sure there is someone like me in your group there. :)
Interesting answers but they beg the question then a teen mom cannot pick up her own child?

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It seems to me that if their requirement for pickup is that the kids can only be released to someone over 18, then their handbook for the summer camp should say that. If it didn't say that anywhere on the paperwork, and you've listed your teenagers on the "allowed to pick my kid up from camp" form, I don't see what the big issue is for them to release your kids to an older sibling. If the older sibling is of babysitting age, then it really shouldn't be a big deal. There's no liability for the camp because you signed off on this and have said in writing that it's okay. The YMCA has no legal obligation to second-guess your judgment as a parent as to whether your older kids can take good care of your younger kids.

They are being ridiculous.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Just tell them DS#1 is 18.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Sorry, I don't think it's ridiculous to not release a minor to another minor. There are liability issues here. What I DO think is ridiculous, is that the policy wasn't spelled out.

I doubt you will get anywhere, since it's a policy. Find a mom who can sign off for your kids and walk them outside to the brother.

ETA: Turnip, I know I was personally thinking minors, that are not parents. My sister was a teen mom and was able to pick up her daughter from daycare. The minor rule only applies to non-parents.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

It is normal to not realease to a minor; however, it is also standard to have that spelled out. Since he is on the form (but presumably not his age), you thought all was in order.

Talk to them. Explain that had you known that your teen would not be allowed to pick up (and it wasn't in the paperwork) you would have not signed them up. Ask if you can provide a special letter and/or sign a waiver to allow your teen to pick up (it's just one day, right?). If they refuse, could you go so them out and then you leave them in your teen's care?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would ask them where in writing on the forms you signed this policy is. If you did not see it then they may not have specified.

If they did and you missed it, then you will need to figure out another thing to do. You should verify their cancellation policy.

If they did not, then I would push back and either ask for a refund or ask for permission for your children to be released to their sibling as you signed them up expecting a different policy and that you were basically sold a product that is different than advertised. You can't even send your 17 yr old sitter with that policy. On the form where you listed the older kids - was there anythings specifying the age of those people?

Can the children be released at the end of the day without someone there to pick them up? If they live close, can they just go out and meet their sibling vs being signed out? If so, I would tell them to just meet their brother/sister/sitter at the end of the day.

Very interesting point by Turnip, too. So if the parent is 17, does that mean he or she can't pick up his or her own kid?

I don't think it's entirely ridiculous. But I do think it needs to be spelled out very very clearly. In advance.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

You are paying for this right? Why would you have them picked up early?

I would have them stay until 6pm. And that way, they are being released to an adult.

I don't ever pick up my children early from camp or daycare if I'm paying the full amount until 6pm. Only if there was a pro-rated rate or such, and I'd made arrangements for that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You are in the right. I would certainly fight this and demand a refund if they won't revisit that "rule."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It's a common policy, although they should have spelled it out more clearly.

They will probably find a way to work with you on it. A special waiver, or a refund. Or, Like Aileene said, you can probably get away with telling them the kid is 18.

Just plead your case, and see what you can get.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It does not surprise me that they would not release child to 15 year old. Big liability. This would have been my first question before signing kid up.

It's only a week, so let them stay late. Only two more days.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree that if it was not on the paper work that you filled out regarding who can/can not pick up your child(ren) then you are entitled to a refund.

I also am aware as my niece is in a Y program in California that this is a policy that is followed there as well. I was placed by my sister on the list while I was in town for two weeks to pick her up and drop her off, I had to show ID each day and prove I was of legal adult age, even at 30.

What an awesome point Turnip ..."Interesting answers but they beg the question then a teen mom cannot pick up her own child?"

I too would be a parent who would sign your child out and hand them off. Heck I am walking a child to/from school daily and was asked on the fly by the parent. I have no issues with finding a work around, but I am not sure if saying they are 18 will work as they asked a grown woman for ID.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

OHhh this would piss me off! Especially since they didnt define more in their contract. I would totally fight this one if it were me! I think a 17 year old is perfectly resp for picking up siblings and you already made arrangements which would then put a damper on your work schedule! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I agree about going over her head. Fight this or get your money back if it's not in the book. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

If they will allow the kids to walk home alone--releasing them into no one's actual care--then I would instruct them to do so by a certain time and just make sure that all the kids understand that the little ones aren't to leave before the big ones get there. Have the big ones call you when they get there, so you know.

It's a reasonable policy to me, but I get the inconvenience of it. Of course, you want to be an exception, but they can't accommodate you. If it truly is not spelled out in their paperwork (ask them to show you where, so you can be clear--keep your attitude in check when you do.), then I think that they should reimburse you for whatever time you cannot have your kids there as a result. The reason has nothing to do with paying an older child to babysit. It's because they will not be able to honor the actual agreement, not the presumed agreement, but the agreement that is actually spelled out in the legal document that you signed.

ETA: Omg, I read that sentence about walking unattended from school, and my brain turned it into the Y allowing them to walk home. I'm a dizzy broad right now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

They are being ridiculous. This doesn't sound like any YMCA policy I have ever heard of. In fact it kind of goes against what the YMCA stands for.



answers from Miami on

I doubt you'll get anywhere with these people. They make rules and then stubbornly stick by them. It didn't occur to them to put it on the forms, but they won't care about that. And they won't give you a refund.



answers from Chicago on

I am 38 and 22 years ago this was a policy at the daycare in town. I know the mom I sat for was really annoyed because she felt that I was more responsible than most of hte 18 year olds.

I don;t think that she was able to get it waved.

I would think you should press to see if a relative, would be acceptable even though a minor. Press it and see what they say. You might need to sign a form stating that you understand the risks.



answers from Burlington on

Do you know any adults who would be able to swing by on Tuesday or Thursday? Relatives, friends, parents of your children's friends, and 18 year old you could hire to pick them up?



answers from Boston on

I don't think it's unreasonable at all. First of all, your older daughter is family and cares for her siblings very much. I'm assuming she babysits for you frequently and knows how to take care of her siblings. Just the other day, I had my 16 year old daughter walk to the daycare to pick up her two younger sisters with the double-stroller and the daycare was completely fine with it. I could see if the walk was not safe (like on a highway, or a busy street without sidewalks) and it was a safety issue, but they should make the exception. I feel for you. I am often in the same predicament. I do leave work early to pick up the little kids, but I had a work dinner the other night and instead of fight rush hour to go home and then come right back to work, just to pick up the kids, my older daughter was allowed to go get them and walk them home. It was a huge relief for me. The day camp's policy doesn't make any sense.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Go over her head. Show you in the bookwork or get over it.

They might be able to say this if it's a state regulation. Seriously those books are half an inch thick in some states.

Just go to the Y director or over the staff person's head to the child care director. If this prohibits you from using their services then they should mke it right somehow.


answers from Seattle on

Two things I would do.
Lie and say that the teens are 18.
Find a mom that is already picking up her kids, have them released to her, and then a block away she leaves them with your teens.
Stupid policy!

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