The Americans have learned of Dutch ‘Droppings’ and now they’re confused

Americans are taking to Twitter to discuss the latest Dutch concept they have learned of: dropping. Much like their fascination with other European concepts, including Dutch niksen, the so-called ‘Dutch-reach,’ and the Danish ‘hygge’ they’re all weighing in on their opinion – for the good of the children. 

Twitter exploded last year after the New York Times published an article detailing the “peculiarly Dutch summer rite” of dropping.

What is Dropping?

The practice involves taking children, typically pre-teens, and leaving them in a forested area to make their way back to either their home or campsite.

Dropping is a favoured exercise among scout groups, although can extend to any age, be done privately, as part of a school group, or in a sports team.

The children are typically armed with a compass and an emergency mobile phone – only to be used in emergencies. Then, using their instincts, brains, and a good old dose of teamwork they (hopefully) make it out.

The advantage? Children are taught to think for themselves, work as a team while still being independent, and the parents get a night off.

The Dutch approach to raising children often makes it into international media. It’s no surprise after consistently appearing at the top of the list for happiest children in the world.

What did the Twitterverse have to say?

If there’s one thing we can count on in this world it’s that if it’s something about raising children, Twitter will be tweeting. Some from outside of Europe were in support of the Dutch ways:

On the other hand, some Tweeters were able to relate:

For some, it takes a lot more to impress them:

And then the Dutchies started chiming in with some history.

Disclaimer: we asked the Dutchies in our office and they didn’t know about this origin story, so take it with a grain of salt (or breadcrumbs).

And some Dutchies joined in to reminisce on the good old days of being dropped in a forest:

What do you think of Dutch ‘droppings?’ A character-building adventure or child negligence? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Wendolin Jacob/Pexels
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2019, but was fully updated in October 2020 for your reading pleasure. 

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.


  1. Between the lament over “latchkey kids” in the 1980s and today’s “helicopter parents” hovering around their kids constantly, as an American I think there’s something good about “dropping,” at least how it’s described here. And I can relate to it. I grew up across a river from a big forest with dirt roads, so I could effectively “drop” myself with my bike and make a nice summer day out of it.

  2. Cool idea. The children are safely observed while left alone in the woods to build skills they might not have the opportunity to build anywhere else. What they learn in this exercise can’t be taught elsewhere.

  3. I do remember droppings and I loved it, it happened a lot at birthday parties too (now I think about it, it is a very easy way to have the teens gone for hours or even the whole night) it was back in the late eighties so no cellphones as a back up, I remember one night we had walked for hours and arrived at the village and the baker had just started baking and gave us a freshly baked bun, the best bread I ever tasted. I also remember we were mostly put too many kids in the back of a car and had to close our eyes or put something on our eyes so we would not know where we were going. As a mother know it sounds ridiculous, almost like a kidnapping, but they were the best adventures.

  4. And I though droppings were something you avoided in the barnyard. At any rate my parents who grew up in Zeeland in the early 1900s never mentioned any such practice happening there at that time.


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