High School Program or Sing Sing?


My friend, neighbor, and inspiration, Dan Akst, showed me this rbfzybbazd
column of his
about a science program one of his twin sons attended two summers ago at a New York State university. Though the program was for high school juniors — kids about 16 or 17 — here’s what the brochure promised:

Resident assistants “will escort the students to both breakfast and dinner each day. . . . Students are restricted from being on any floor or wing other than the one assigned without an accompanying Summer Conference Resident Assistant. . . . Students will not be discharged to parents in waiting cars. . . . Students will be escorted between the residence halls and other areas of the campus. . . . Students are never to leave the residence hall without signing out and may not leave unless accompanied by a staff member. Students found outside the building without supervision will be dismissed . . .”

Students must wear their ID card on a lanyard at all times when out and about. But it’s not as if there will be no fun; “age appropriate” movies are promised, although of course they’ll be anything but. And campers can count on attending, since “during the nightly social/recreation period, Conference Housing students will not be permitted to remain in their rooms.”

Dan added that this was not a group likely to be the worst behaved ever — “for Pete’s sake, these are young people motivated to spend part of their summer studying engineering!” And yet between the lawyers and maybe the marketers, the university could promise nothing less than the kind of excessive chaperoning once reserved for prisoners, or women under the Taliban.

So, two things we must continue to fight:

1 – This idea that all “kids” (even the ones old enough to drive) need CONSTANT supervision.


2 – That anything WE could handle at age (fill in the blank), this generation cannot, because somehow it is suddenly too hard or too dangerous.

How insulting to our own genius kids. — L


Welcome to summer science camp, kids!

Welcome to summer science camp, kids!


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123 Responses to High School Program or Sing Sing?

  1. That_Susan January 12, 2016 at 9:52 am #

    Wow! This seems like a more pertinent place to put my comment on the previous post about children walking independently, so I’ll copy and paste it over here.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I’m trying to process a rather upsetting incident that occurred in my own area of my city on Monday the 4th, which is the first day that kids in our school district went back to school after the holidays. A man dressed all in black and wearing a ski mask got out of his pickup and started following a ten-year-old girl who was walking home alone from her bus stop. When she turned down his offer of a ride, he picked her up from behind and tried to force her into his truck. Thankfully, she had the presence of mind to kick, bite, and fight really hard until she was able to break away from him and run home. He was somehow able to get an object out of his truck and throw it at her, creating a small cut or scratch just below her eye (I haven’t quite figured out how he managed to hit her in the face while she was running away, but I can take her word for it) — but at least she escaped from the criminal relatively unharmed. She was able to give a description of the pickup and police are looking for him, but haven’t found him yet, at least not the last I heard. The reporter stated that someone in the girl’s family will be walking her to and from the bus stop from now on.

    The odd “coincidence” is that my own ten-year-old, who started walking to and from school independently last semester, let me know the night before starting back to school last Monday that she didn’t want to walk on her own anymore and wanted me to start walking with her again. She didn’t express any fear over walking alone, and I got the impression that it was more a matter of the newness wearing off and her deciding that she’d like some company after all. At any rate, I was happy to start walking with her again. Then, after learning late last week about the attempted abduction, with the predator still at large, I started wondering if I’d ever even feel okay about letting her walk alone again.

    Then today, it occurred to me that I just needed to keep trusting in our instincts — my daughters’, my husband’s, and my own. Walking independently was a wonderful experience for her last semester, and undoubtedly will be again — but right at this moment, it probably isn’t such a good idea. The cool thing is that she got that “feeling” that she wanted company, and I listened to her and started walking with her again. I remember that the most upsetting thing for me about that 11-year-old girl in California who was abducted and held captive until around the age of 28 or 29, was that she didn’t feel comfortable walking to her bus stop on her own but her stepdad refused to take her. I understand that very, very occasionally, randomly horrible things happen to children — but I don’t know how I could ever forgive myself if something like that happened to my child because I ignored her request for a walking companion.

    So I think my policy will be to continue to trust her feelings about whether or not she wants to walk independently. She’s been doing a great job of figuring things out so far. And I also understand that many parents in our part of the city will most likely be wanting to accompany their kids to school or to the bus stop, and this doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to me in view of what’s just happened — but I just hope we don’t see anyone trying to put through legislation that all schoolchildren under the age of 18 have to be accompanied by an adult while walking to school or the bus stop, or some such nonsense. Let’s continue trusting the instincts of parents and children regarding what’s best. I mean, didn’t that little girl just prove that her own fighting instincts could pull her safely through a really threatening situation?

  2. pentamom January 12, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    Okay, this is ridiculous. My daughter did something similar a couple of summers ago, only it was business oriented. They were required not to leave the dorms after a certain hour, were not allowed to leave campus for the entire week, were not allowed to set foot in the opposite sex dorms, and were subject to getting sent home if they were hanging around outside after curfew. I don’t have a problem with restrictions like that put on high school students, who aren’t college students YET and are nearly all, if not all, legally underage.

    But they were certainly allowed to travel between buildings by themselves, find their rides by themselves (some of them drove themselves) and decide whether they wanted to go to the social gatherings or stay in (they were working on major projects, so especially the kids made “CEO” of their group spent most of the time working.)

  3. lollipoplover January 12, 2016 at 10:26 am #

    These type of restrictions on capable *genius* students make this campus sound like a hotbed for crime with required escorts and supervision needed just to eat meals and walk around. Many kids age 16 and 17 actually can DRIVE to university, but walking to breakfast may be too advanced for them?

    Totally OT and to the point of children needing constant supervision- this had me spitting out my coffee this morning:


    “Waking up to hear a stranger’s voice in your child’s room is the nightmare of every parent. And thanks to internet-connected baby monitors, it’s happened a lot over the past two years.”

    Actually, just having the baby wake up and disrupt your sleep is every parent’s nightmare. It seems the constant, high-tech monitoring of children has it’s downfalls, in addition to creating anxious, paranoid parents. “That’s a really poopy diaper” is pretty funny, though!

  4. Elin January 12, 2016 at 10:27 am #

    The ID thing is reasonable I think and that children shouldn’t be out running at night but the rest seems very over the top. Isn’t part of this to get a feel of college too?

  5. E January 12, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Yup — presumably the program’s leadership (when evaluating risk, insurance, etc)is concerned about any kind of mishap happening on their watch.

    Also – some parent would read that and it would make them feel comfortable (and perhaps convince them to shell out the $$ for their kid to attend).

    Don’t know the answer, but not really surprised I guess.

  6. John January 12, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    The root cause of all this is lawyers trying to make a buck with the aid of judges and a court system that also believes that children (anyone under 18) are made out of balsa wood and therefore should be guarded at all times. So if a 17-year-old falls down and skins his knee, instead of chalking that up to accidents happen and the knee will heal, the university will get sued for not implementing controls that would have prevented a “child” from falling and hurting himself.

    It’s ridiculous the way American society coddles minors.

  7. JB January 12, 2016 at 10:45 am #


    What you are talking about is the main thesis of Gavin De Becker’s “The Gift of Fear.” Your brain will tell you when something’s wrong long before you can verbalize it. You experience that as an uneasy feeling or fear that seems to come out of nowhere.

    If you haven’t poisoned your mind with overblown fears of nonexistent boogeymen, then you can trust these instinctual feelings and act on them. Doing so will most of the time have no effect, but some of the time will save you just in time from dangers you would fall victim to if you waited to act until you understood exactly what was going on.

    The trick is, if you do make yourself afraid of everything, these instincts become worthless and you become acutely vulnerable to real dangers, because you can’t tell the difference between real and manufactured fear.

  8. Warren January 12, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    I am surprised at even some of the people in here saying that kids this age should be restricted to campus, not out at night and such.

    Really? I would want my kids to have the freedom to explore a new town or city on their own. That to me would be an important part of the whole experience.

    Am I the only one here that sees a city is totally different at night than it is during the day? If you don’t want your teens/young adults to see the sights, why bother sending them anywhere.

  9. Warren January 12, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    That Susan,

    I am somewhat suspect of the girl’s story. A few things don’t add up. The use of a black ski mask, in the middle of the day while following a child off a bus just seems too Hollywood. And like you said her running away, yet he was able to get to his truck and get an object, then throw it at her from behind, but able to scratch her face?

    Sorry too much points to this being a cover story for something that this child is trying to hide.

  10. Elin January 12, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    Warren, at 16-17 I think that parents must make their own decisions about freedom when they are at home but I am OK with being a bit more restrictive when you give responsibility to someone who is unknown and when many kids are involved. To me it is OK that you are not allowed to run around at night when you are at a camp even at 16-17.

  11. Warren January 12, 2016 at 10:59 am #


    I wish the media would get their facts straight. The worst nightmare, implies that nothing could be worse. Yet everything that they report on, from kids getting on the wrong bus, to catching the chicken pox is the WORST nightmare. I wish they would make up their mind as to which one is really the worst.

  12. Warren January 12, 2016 at 11:08 am #


    So you have no problem with telling your kids, that we trust you but not really.

    We are talking, about 16-17 year olds. Some of which are old enough to serve in the military, drive, work full time, work part time, and make decisions about which college, which program and what they want to do for their career.

    I wouldn’t send my 16-17 year old to a program that treated them like toddlers or prisoners.

    When we were younger than that in Scouts we went for a 4 day trip to Ottawa. We had our scheduled activities and then free time, with the only restriction being that we had to be in our dorms by 10 pm. And that was only because the hostel where we were staying closed the doors at 10 pm. Some checked out the arcades, others just walked around, and some of us skated on the river with the locals. It was great.

    Thing is on trips like this, kids/teens don’t go off on their own. They always are in groups or pairs. That is just how they roll.

  13. pentamom January 12, 2016 at 11:30 am #

    Like Elin, I am okay with outside organizations setting their rules in such a way that not only my kids, but less trustworthy ones (and they do exist) do not ruin things for the program, the reputation of the program, and the community in which the program is located, due to lack of supervision.

    As Elin said, under my supervision, whether traveling or at home, I am responsible for my own kids. I know them. If an organization takes responsibility for 300 hundred kids, none of whom the people in charge know well, it is not unreasonable to place some limits on their activity so as to avoid the problems that the irresponsible ones among them might cause.

    Warren writes as though all leaders of all organizations should just trust all kids to make good choices, or at least choices that do not cause significant harm to others, because Warren trusts his own kids. That just doesn’t seem very logical.

  14. Kimberly January 12, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    This makes me think about my own high school experience which was the polar opposite.

    My sophomore and junior years, I was a member of the flag team. We were part of the band and performed at half-time at all the home football games. We also went to competitions against other high school bands throughout most of the state (California) where each competition was divided between the parade aspect and the field show. Most were one day things. The Pismo Beach competition was an over-nighter. As long as we were in our hotel rooms for bed-check, we could do what we want.

    Between my sophomore and junior year, we attended the 4th of July parade in Oahu. There were only a handful of adults to supervise all of us kids (between the flag team, the dance team, and the band, there were probably about 75-100 of us).

    We were there for an entire week. Except for the practices and the parade, we had our run of the island. No checking in. No letting an adult know where we were going. As long as we had the money and were in our rooms at bed-check, we could do what we want. My friends and I rode the entire island on the bus, went to the other side of the island to sight-see, and kept ourselves fed at the ABC stores. Myself and another girl got horrible sunburns while boogey-boarding at Waikiki Beach for an entire afternoon. We went to the Cultural Center and my friends all went to Pearl Harbor (I stayed at the hotel because I was in so much pain from the sunburn). At night, two of us slept out on the patio and even got serenaded one night by a bunch of guys from another school who sang “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” to us from their own balconies.

    There was no adult oversight and not a single one of us got injured, maimed, killed, or kidnapped. We all made it back to the airport and on the plane with all of our body-parts intact.

    And it was also one of the best trips I’ve ever had.

  15. Michelle January 12, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    Elin said, “The ID thing is reasonable I think and that children shouldn’t be out running at night but the rest seems very over the top. Isn’t part of this to get a feel of college too?”

    Warren said, “When we were younger than that in Scouts we went for a 4 day trip to Ottawa. We had our scheduled activities and then free time, with the only restriction being that we had to be in our dorms by 10 pm. And that was only because the hostel where we were staying closed the doors at 10 pm. Some checked out the arcades, others just walked around, and some of us skated on the river with the locals. It was great.”

    I don’t think these two are so far apart. There’s nothing so very awful about a reasonable curfew, even if only so those running the program don’t have to stay up and remain “open” all night. I think if Elin had said “out running ALL night,” Warren you wouldn’t disagree. And I think that’s what was meant. And wearing a “visitor” ID badge isn’t horrible, either. It’s something plenty of adults have to do for various work-related things.

    But that’s talking about what would be reasonable, not the crazy over-the-top rules that are apparently actually in place here.

  16. E January 12, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    The guy doesn’t list where the kid went to the program, so who knows if it was in NYC or some other smaller place.

    Since a 16/17 year old has never spent time on a college campus, I would think the experiences there would be valuable enough.

    We’re just guessing in regard to how walkable the off campus areas are. I can think of colleges in our state/area that would not make for good off campus travel by foot and some that would be great.

    But wouldn’t it be part of the experience to see that campus itself? The student union and other on-campus offerings, etc.

    Not every childhood experience has to be everything. If the Scouts (a group that any leader would have way more familiarity with the kids) have different experiences, so be it. If an engineering camp is focused on a campus, so be it.

    Of course, the on campus supervision does sound a little extreme.

  17. E January 12, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    it’s pretty easy to deduce (via google) where this is.

    It lists that the supervision is done by current [insert .edu] students that are “chosen for their previous experience with such programs, their academic achievements, their ability to act as a role model, and their expressed desire to counsel young students”

    So, they’ve got a group leader that’s a few years older than them.

    Sure the wording is extreme, but I think the format isn’t that unusual.

  18. pentamom January 12, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    Yes, to clarify, I’m only defending the broader rules like curfews and restricting kids to campus, not stuff like escorting them everywhere and never allowing them to stay in their rooms.

  19. Kerry January 12, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    That is patently absurd. When I did a similar summer program (eons ago) at that age we would even (gasp) walk DOWNTOWN (in a small college town) on our own in groups of two or three. Not to mention that in our school district kids in 3rd grade and up are allowed to get themselves to and from school without adult supervision. Even in kindergarten my son is expected to find his classroom on his own every morning.

  20. fred schueler January 12, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    Not the way things were done in the 1960s: I remember science club in grade 8 – not only did we run around the schoolgrounds unsupervised, it was left up to me to dissuade friends from aiming a sort of rocket-mortar they had made at an Oak tree at the edge of a parked-up parkinglot (the idea being that the projectile would bounce off the tree and be more easily retrieved rather than being lost in the distance – without considering that it might have been retrieved from the front seat of a teacher’s car after having gone through the windshield – or even through a window of the adjacent music room). Also I went to one of these high school student science programs at Yale, and the main paper was about hallucinogenic mushrooms – and passing the hallucinogenic .principle on to others by drinking the urine of someone who had eaten the mushroom.

  21. Ravana January 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    One has to assume that there were summer classes going on during their “camp” and the college doesn’t trust its own students to behave and not attempt to do bad things to innocents.

    I remember being 14 and and going on an archaeological dig in a wooded area by a river. We had full run of the woods, river and town and had a blast. When it was time to leave one of our group was missing. Our teacher (yes we had ONE teacher for 6 kids–the horror!) said to me, “You know how to track. Go find him.” so I did. He was about a mile away holding a small rattlesnake and looking for more. When we got back he got chewed out, not for wandering a mile away into the woods, not for playing with rattlesnakes, but for making the rest of the crew wait when he knew what time we were leaving.

    I can’t even imagine what would happen these days, but dogs, helicopters, total panic and a hospital stay would be part of the mix I’m sure.

  22. SanityAnyone? January 12, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    Way to kill a program. Most of the fun of those things that kept me going back was not on the schedule.

  23. Havva January 12, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    Why do parents and students even put up with this?

    Where the parents really that awful when they were 16-17? Are their honors students that awful/helpless? And if the students are really that awful/helpless, why are they being sent for extra special academic study, rather than being given something to work out their inability to handle responsibility, discipline, or socializing before their parents run out of the time and control necessary to resolve these issues?

    I’m not sure if felling the need for such rules is is the end result of horrible helicoptering, the end result of controlling children, rather than holding them responsible for their behavior, or perhaps both. But whatever it is, I doesn’t resemble something I would have tolerated at 16 or 17, nor anything remotely appropriate for who I was at that age.

    At 15-17 I was negotiating study programs to meet my needs and goals (skipping high school courses) , taking Jr. College courses (math, engineering, and Spanish), doing ballet, and acting in a community theater. Heck I was so fed up with highschool that before I negotiated my own way, I considered taking a GED and skipping straight to college. At 15 I had spent 2 1/2 weeks of my summer running free in a major city (aside from lunch and language lessons with my sister). I flew there on my own, signed up for and took ballet lessons on my own, learned to use the bus system (my sister dropped me at a Macy’s with a little advice and confidence i would figure it out). I gave up on a late bus, and got back on foot, I figured it out. I budgeted my money and my time. I got into zero trouble (even after being offered alcohol).

    I could certainly accept limits. My sister had a few for me, my parents had more. The ballet school was strict but with reasonable rules (high expectations in other words). Rules were not problem. But being treated like a wayward problem child was not something I would have accepted.

    I suppose people put up with it for the name power of ‘Sprawling U’ whoever that actually is. Perhaps they think it will help them get into a prestigious university. But my own approach to things, based largely on my desire to be treated like and adult and not be held back from doing my things by arbitrary rules, was enough for early decision admission at one of the most selective colleges in the nation. So I find it hard to believe that refusing to participating in activities that treat young adults in that manner is detrimental.

  24. pentamom January 12, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

    And even then, I’m not saying these rules *have* to be in place, just that they seem reasonable enough if the institution wants to ensure they don’t have to deal with the consequences of immature kids doing something really dumb that reflects on them.

  25. Dee January 12, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

    Wow! Talk about a lack of trust.

    In contract, my son went to a Boy Scout “merit badge college” on Saturday. I was on my way to pick him up when he called to say it was over. I told him I was just about there and pulled in to park as I was walking to the door (in the back of the building, no window) he came out on his own. No signing out, no escort. I love it! But then again, Boy Scouts wants these young men to be capable.

  26. Anne January 12, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    Sadly, they probably made those rules so overprotective parents would allow their children to attend. My introvert would have explained that she WOULD be staying in her room in the evening to decompress from the day and read a book, thank you very much, and did not need to walk in a line to lunch like a kindergartner. I would probably have received a call. I would be fine with a reasonable curfew and required check-ins for classes, so they’re actually doing what they’re there for, but that’s it.

    I guess I shouldn’t have complained about the daytime engineering program she attended at our local college, for late elementary through middle school. We were required to wait in a long line and show ID to check out our children. She couldn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to meet me in the parking lot across the street. Ha.

    It brings back memories of freshman orientation in college at age seventeen. I had been overprotected for a 80s/90s kid, and I could not believe that I was expected to get from one building to another on a large campus all by myself. But it was sink or swim, and I quickly managed.

  27. lollipoplover January 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

    “Students found outside the building without supervision will be dismissed. ”

    What if there’s a fire? Have they considered students taking this too literally and trying to find appropriate supervision to avoid being dismissed and facing far greater consequences than breaking this asinine rule?

    I am absolutely dumbfounded with these regulations for ages 16 and 17! This is the age group the should be ACTIVELY RECRUITING as future college students and “pitch” their campus. There’s no better way then to allow them to experience, within reason, the college experience. By requiring My Bodyguard to even go outside the building (what does this tell students about the dangers that lurk outside these college buildings? Should they be worried?), Potential students will realize their freedom will be restricted in this campus environment and look elsewhere.

    I applied to 4 colleges and visited 3 campuses before making my decision. My choice was most influenced because I had stayed on campus at a sports camp the summer I was 15. We loved the freedom of being able to go to the campus dairy and get the most incredible ice cream. We also took the buses into town to go shopping and buy sweatshirts and souvenirs and tour the downtown scene (live music and artsy). It felt very safe and fun…It was an easy decision and I had an incredible college experience, probably because I got to try before buy. I can’t help feeling these colleges are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to restrict students and require constant supervision and assume these teens (rather insults them too) are either juvenile delinquents or runaway toddlers.

    What ever happened to expectations of conduct and appropriate consequences? This sounds like Adult Day Care rules and regulations, not capable, future college students who can hack your computer or baby monitor in a geek second.

  28. Emily January 12, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    Anne has a good point–a lot of young people who’d be interested in a summer engineering program, would probably be introverted. So, just imagining the mandatory evening social time (after a full day of interaction in classes, and being escorted to everything), I’m picturing a room full of burned-out teenagers all attempting to retreat into their respective books/smartphones/head spaces, rather than watching the movie, or participating in the group activity. If the purpose of the mandatory social time is just to prevent the students from drinking and having sex, then maybe the leaders wouldn’t mind, but I’m guessing that there are probably at least a few overzealous or overly controlling leaders in the program, who’d be inclined to punish students for “not participating,” or “being anti-social.” I got a lot of that, as an introverted child, just because I wasn’t wired to be infinitely social. Once I got to high school, and was allowed to take breaks from interaction at lunch time, or sometimes do my work in the library instead of in the crowded classroom, the “anti-social” label disappeared.

  29. lollipoplover January 12, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    “…during the nightly social/recreation period, Conference Housing students will not be permitted to remain in their rooms.”

    So their free time isn’t really free, is it?

    I agree with the posters who said this is more to meet the needs of today’s drone parents who are truly afraid something bad will happen if their child is not under constant supervision. So when Khyler doesn’t answer mom’s persistent calls and texts and the panicked mom calls the college to check up on him, they will know he is viewing the required showing of “Weird Science” for his mandatory social interaction with approved students. The college is able to calm the worried parent, assuring them he is *safe*.

  30. Warren January 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm #


    First off we are not talking about kids. Second we are not talking about teens/young adults that are from the general pool. We are talking about ones already trusted to travel and be away from home. If they cannot be trusted, then they shouldn’t be going to these types of events or activities in the first place.

    I could see this for up to grade 8, but not high school students. It comes down to what you are accustomed to. I have heard that high school campuses in the states do not allow much freedom to their students, such as leaving the campus during school hours. Where our high schools are not locked down like that. My kids go and come as they wish, as long as they are in their scheduled classes. Spares and lunch are their time and they routinely leave school grounds for a walk, to go out for lunch or whatever.

    By Elin and pentamom’s logic, it would be a severe waste of time and money to ever send this age group on overseas trips. Only scheduled activities and locked down otherwise.

  31. pentamom January 12, 2016 at 2:57 pm #

    I don’t understand people talking about “a lack of trust.”

    Why should people trust kids they don’t know?

    Again, these particular rules are over the top. But I don’t get the mentality that says “we should just trust kids to be responsible.”‘

    Whyever should we do THAT? Experience teaches us that there are enough untrustworthy kids in the world that when you get a group of them together, “trusting” that none of them will get into serious trouble without supervision would be foolish.

  32. pentamom January 12, 2016 at 3:02 pm #

    As I said, I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong not to have some of these rules in place.

    But I think it’s absurd to say “either you trust a large group of kids all to be 100% responsible with unlimited freedom, or they should never leave home.”

    What about the ones who fall somewhere in the middle? And what about the institution that wants to provide an experience for kids, and doesn’t want to be on the hook when the 1 or 2 out of hundreds does something that creates a situation that wrecks the experience for the others, or engages in criminal activity for which they’re liable, or something like that?

    The principle that kids (and yes, Warren, until they’re paying their own bills and voting they’re kids, albeit older ones) are generally trustworthy at 16 or 17 does not logically entail that an institution should blindly trust that any 16 or 17 year old under their area of responsibility will be 100% trustworthy. The fact that they’ve qualified for a particular academic experience certainly is no guarantee that they’re not going to abuse a given amount of freedom.

  33. Warren January 12, 2016 at 3:15 pm #


    So basically you are for zero tolerance rules for an entire group, based on the lowest denominator. Restrict and therefore punish the whole, on the chance that one or a few may cause a problem.

    That is no different than all the other zero tolerance crap we have discussed here, time and time again.

    And no, 16-17 year olds are not kids. That is a major part of the problem. They are not even just older kids. The whole until they can vote, pay taxes yadada crap is a load of hooey.

    Maybe it is a cultural thing, but here we don’t view that age group as kids. We may call them kids for a lack of a better term, but we do not treat them as such.

  34. Warren January 12, 2016 at 3:17 pm #


    ” does not logically entail that an institution should blindly trust ”

    Who said anything about blindly trusting anyone? But you are in complete favor of absolutely not trusting them at all. That is actually sad.

  35. bmj2k January 12, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    Pretty soon they’ll be implanting chips in these kids.

  36. Cassie January 12, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    Not so long ago when I was a mere 14years old (almost 15), I got accepted into a summer “girls in engineering” program being delivered by a university a few hundred kilometres away.

    This is Australia, we don’t have summer camps, or stuff like that, so this was quite an unusual thing. It was free, we had to apply for it, and myself and a friend were accepted.

    Her parents drove us up there, and dropped us off. We stayed on-campus at the univiersity (of Wollongong), and I am pretty sure the organisers didn’t realise we should be treated any differently to any of the other residents of the college (in Australia a ‘college’ is what we call the residential buildings that belong to a university).

    We experienced uni-sex bathrooms, and the freedom of the city…. Yes, after dinner a bunch of us decided to go to a movie together. We left the campus, found a friendly student to give us directions (though I distinctly recall he refused to share his alchohol with us), and off we went.

    At the end of the night, after taking the long way home we arrived back on campus to find that our keys would not get us into the external doors. We knocked and yelled and (no mobile phones back then) eventually accosted someone who was on there way in.

    It was a brilliant and harmless adventure for a bunch of 14yo girls.

  37. DR January 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

    I like this part:

    “age appropriate” movies

    Age appropriate movies for 17 year olds include NC-17 rated movies. Duh! And next year…..

  38. Emily January 12, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    I agree with Warren. I don’t even think giving 16-17 year olds age-appropriate freedoms in a summer academic program is “blind trust” either–it’s trust based on a few key pieces of information. First, these kids chose engineering camp over just “hanging out” at the beach/mall/friend’s houses during their precious, short summer vacation, second, if it’s a selective program, they met the academic requirements to be admitted (which would have likely translated into many instances of making the “responsible choice” to study instead of socialize or veg out), and third, their parents trust them away from home for an extended period of time. So, given that information, if I was running such a program, I wouldn’t think, “give them constant supervision.” Also, one more thing–some summer camps (definitely day camps, and even some overnight camps) hire 16 and 17 year olds as counsellors, so while Sprawling U deems it necessary to provide young people that age with constant supervision, just think–a few miles away at Camp Blahblah, 16 and 17 year olds ARE the supervision.

  39. Cassie January 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

    …oh and this was not so long ago. The mid-1990s, I am not talking about the 1950s.

  40. BL January 12, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

    “doesn’t want to be on the hook when the 1 or 2 out of hundreds does something that creates a situation that wrecks the experience for the others, or engages in criminal activity”

    So why aren’t hundreds of adult experiences necessarily ruined when 1 or 2 does something wrong, including criminal activity?

  41. E January 12, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    @Warren — both of my kids who went to HS in the last 3-7 years left for lunch once they reached 10th grade (and their grades weren’t crap). Contrast that to me who went to HS in the 80s who was NOT able to leave campus at lunch.

    In my opinion, living in an area with a great deal of growth, I think it’s just as likely that they just don’t have the cafeteria room to accommodate all the students in a reasonable amount of time.

    Anyway — our entire (large) county allows kids to leave for lunch on foot or by car.

  42. Jewellya January 12, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    To get it all spelled out like that does seem oppressive, in an attempt to be “reassuring” to obsessive parents and gain their business.
    I’ve taught at a summer engineering program for High school students, held at a university. Might be the same one. The reality was that each student had a group of students they stayed with throughout the day, which was scheduled with classes, breaks, and lunch, etc. Time passed quickly, then it was time to go home. (we discharged them to parents in cars).

    There were several camps on campus at the same time during the summer, so the ballerinas had pink lanyards, and the engineers had yellow or orange. the Christian overnight camp had purple, I believe. They each had differing liberties depending on each camps protocols (as in, what parents expected…the ballerinas seemed to have a lot more self-discipline, were fewer in number, and roamed unsupervised.). what actually takes place can be very different since the “resident assistants” are usually college students, some not far removed in age from their wards.

    The real difficulty is preventing infatuation and fraternization between the RA’s and campers. or the on-campus enrolled college students and those same campers.

    One story from my experience was when my program was held on a campus affiliated with a military base. a 16-17 year old camper became involved with an 18-19 yo GI. The program directors tried to intervene, but the mother approved of the match “because he’s employed”. (thank goodness for the program, because we could have been sued)
    The trouble as educators is we were hoping these kids saw their future as one that stretched beyond “marriage and a job”. We assume this is inherent in the type of student demographic, but often it’s not. Not when hormones and developmentally poor impulse control are concerned. Not when these very bright kids may come from underprivileged backgrounds.

    No telling if the couple worked out in the long run, but these thing do happen. Programs have to at least make an attempt to show that they take steps to avoid it.

  43. Renee January 12, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    All is not lost – have faith. My 3 children attend a charter school on the Community College campus. They are not segregated or regulated. Once they show academic readiness and appropriate maturity they are moved into regular college classes. At 16 or 17. My 14 yr daughter attends and she is trusted to navigate between buildings, college students and the student center for lunch. She will probably be in a college class at 15yr. The school believes that if you expect maturity and capable behavior then that is what you will get.

  44. Havva January 12, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    You seem to be falling right into the perfection is necessary and kids are a mess trap that is eating American childhood and parenthood alive.

    “Why should people trust kids they don’t know?”
    For the exact same reason any of us trust anyone we don’t know. Because it would be corrosive to society if we don’t exhibit some basic level of trust in people, even strangers. Because living with constant suspicion of others, and under a constant cloud of suspicion is detrimental to individual and group well being.

    “I don’t get the mentality that says “we should just trust kids to be responsible.”‘
    Whyever should we do THAT?”

    Because if we don’t do that (combined with providing consequences if/when they aren’t responsible), we teach kids that all the things we don’t want them to do are so completely normal, completely expected, completely unavoidable, that there is something *wrong* with the kids that *do* follow rules. We teach them that acting like a civilized human being is “freakish behavior”. If we don’t start from a place of trust we teach people on the verge of adulthood that there is zero benefit to being trustworthy, and every benefit to breaking the rules.

    I should know, I was a rules follower in a city that treated all teens as juvenile delinquents. When other kids found I abided by the rules they called me a “freak” said I needed to “get a life.” Even generally decent friends told me I needed to “rebel.” Because, quite simply, the only way any of them could do jack was by breaking rules. As far as anyone our age could tell being responsible about following the rules had ZERO benefit.

    I tried to explain, and had no luck. It wasn’t until I asked them what sort of “rebellion” they thought I needed to partake in that they found out what I had been talking about maintaining trust through responsibility. See none of my friends were allowed to into town on a school night (we are talking young people several of whom had driver’s licenses). Where as my parents didn’t have such rules, just a lot of trust that I would be responsible (and some clear communication–and past enforcement– on what responsibility involved). None of my friends believed that my parents would allow me out on a school night. So, I allowed them one witness, and asked for one day to get ahead on my homework. The next day, the chosen witness got to see my parents act pleased as punch, when I announced I was done with my work and wanted to go to the movies, wish me a good time, and hand me a $20 for good measure.

    “Experience teaches us that there are enough untrustworthy kids in the world that when you get a group of them together, “trusting” that none of them will get into serious trouble without supervision would be foolish.”

    And WHY should the goal be that no one gets into serious trouble ever? Why teach the kids that it is up to others to ensure they stay out of trouble, instead of up to the individual. Why do we blame parents and institutions when young people who are more than old enough to be responsible, and more then old enough to be conniving, screw up. Yes a few people over time will have to be the examples of serious consequences. But there are always going to be people who are hell bent on being a disaster in life. Better to put them to some use as the example, than to strip every teen of respect for the rules, themselves, and each-other, in an attempt (which will fail anyhow) to stop every disaster from fulfilling their destiny.

    My college’s discipline was run by a student honor council. In the room where the honor council chairman studied, was this poster: http://despair.com/products/mistakes (I think it was there the whole time I was).
    It is a picture of a sinking ship captioned
    “Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.”

  45. Dienne January 12, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    “It’s ridiculous the way American society coddles minors.”

    What about this suggests the word “coddle” to you? “Coddle” means to treat tenderly, indulgently, to pamper. What this program is doing is controlling and repressive – nothing tender or indulgent about it.

  46. Vaughan Evans January 12, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    If I were a leader of an activity-such as an outdoor group-for teenagers, I would write a pamphlet called

    Being a Good(Hike) Participant)
    -Ask not what the group can do for you
    -ask what you can do for the group.
    In my hiking clubs I:
    -bring street maps-which my driver can peruse-to know how to get to the start of a hike
    -bring trail maps-if I have them-that the leader, driver, or other participants can peruse
    -bring hike books-so that the others can peruse
    -help a driver navigate(I have lived in Vancouver, Canada for 66 years.
    I have tons of information(which is always changing)to volunteer to the aforementioned people

    -How to act when a leader or participant puzzles about something.

  47. Vaughan Evans January 12, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    I was born in 1949.
    All my life I was treated nastily and condescendingly. My parents were NOT abusive.
    It was an old boys network, where veterans ruled the roost. All the mothers care about was keeping their hubby happy.
    Now the opposite is true. Parents want to keep their children happy. My niece was drive to school for all 12 years. In addition her father coached her soccer team for 6 years.
    Organized entertainment for children has its place. But today it is overdone.
    The purpose of the play leader-and of the recreation centre-should be to give chlldren a foundation of knowledge-so that they can improvise their own fun-and impart what they know to their peers.

    On August 24, 1979 there was a picnic for children(1979 was International year of the Child.)
    -A Community Centre-in Vancouver, Canada allowed me to teach the game ;Run, Sheep, Run! to the children( Iwas assigned 6 boys to play with. Other children watched me play and tech the game.)

    -Two weeks later a boy told me that 60 additional children had tried the game.
    Soon, the WHOLE of the local school was playing it.
    The teachers would take the children outdoors to play it-in lieu of indoor P>E.

    -This happened in Vancouver’s West End-a single square mile that had 40,0000 people at that time.

    For more information about the game-and what happened next, you can call write to me at;

    Mr. Evans
    1-5751 Yew Street.
    Vancouver BC

    Canada V6M 3Y5

  48. Emily January 12, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

    @Vaughan Evans–Run Sheep Run sounds like a fun game. Why don’t you just post the rules here, for all of us to see?

  49. beanie January 12, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

    In eighth and ninth grade I went to a summer music camp on a college campus. We walked off campus, and I didn’t communicate with my parents for two weeks. There were college-age RA’s, I guess they were the ones in charge. I don’t remember any “old” adults being in charge, except of course there were teachers for the classes. Surely there was some kind of authority/management, to run the program, but they must’ve stayed appropriately in the background. It really was a lot like a college experience would be. I never realized until just now what a great pre-college experience that was!

  50. Another Katie January 12, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

    In high school the marching band went on a week-long trip to Disney World. We had far more freedom than this. We had to check in with our chaperones three times a day and be in our assigned rooms by 11 PM, and had to participate in band activities like rehearsal and the performance in the park, but aside from that we were basically on our own. In the parks we were supposed to always be with at least one other student.

    We were to stay in our hotel rooms from 11 PM to 6 AM unless there was a medical emergency. At curfew the chaperones went around to each student room and put tape across the door and door jamb so that it would be obvious if the door had been opened after curfew (you wouldn’t be able to reattach the tape after going back into the room). Shortly before 6 AM a chaperone went around to check that the tape was intact. Every student and their parents signed a permission slip saying that if we broke the rules regarding curfew and chaperone check-ins, the consequences could include being immediately put on a plane back home at our parents’ expense.

    Some of us were as young as 14; I was a freshman and I think I must have just turned 15. I was responsible for my own spending money (including buying my meals) and getting around the park, and getting to activities and chaperone check-ins on my own.

  51. Another Katie January 12, 2016 at 7:09 pm #

    Last summer our then-4 year old was in a summer day camp program run by our parks & rec department. The counselors were all 16-18 year old high school students (the director was an adult) – and they did an awesome job. There were two counselors assigned to a group of 4-6 three and four year olds. Our daughter loved her counselors and had a great experience. It’s ironic that those teens were responsible for the care and safety of a pack of three and four year old small children, but if they’d chosen to go to this summer engineering program they wouldn’t have had anything resembling age-appropriate freedom and responsibility.

    I think if a student that age can legally drive a car and enlist in the military with parental permission, it’s silly to restrict them to a dorm building unless they’re accompanied by a grownup.

  52. baby-paramedic January 12, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

    I attended a few similar things. Usually I would be arriving the day before everyone else, or leaving a day after everyone else, because I tended to live quite far away and the town I lived in had only one flight per day.

    One of those times there was another person left over at the end for an extra night, so we made our way to the nearby restaurant strip, and felt oh so grown up ordering our own food and paying for it (we were 16?)

    The other time was a little scarier. I decided to meet my cousin in the city. That would involve two busses and a train, which for a country girl without much working knowledge of public transit is a little daunting. Still, I was 17 and managed it all by myself, even if for a bit of it I had to catch a taxi because I missed one of the connections. It was probably the first time in my life I had done something so far outside my comfort zone, and most importantly so far outside of my comfort zone by myself. Me succeeding in that honestly did have a positive impact later on, and has lead to me travelling independently to all sorts of weird and wonderful places.

  53. Nicole Pelton January 12, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

    I did a program like this. And as some have said, it attracts pretty responsible students. I did the engineering program, which was a lot less intensive than the debate program, where kids spent the whole time in the library or class or debating . Our teachers had the attitude we were not getting credit and it was summer so left us lots of time for fun. It was at Northwestern so we had the run of the campus, could go to to the beach or Evenston and spent a few hours once wandering the campus desperately searching for the Mac lab since I could not type on a typewriter to save my life. Even went to Chicago, as a group but were were allowed to walk around by ourselves for a bit. It’s really sad what has happened to childrens’ independence

  54. Liz January 12, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    I went to the summer program at Berklee College of Music when I was 17, in the heart of a city (gasp!) and didn’t have nor need this kind of watching over. There were even kids living alone in apartments instead of the dorms! Nobody hurt me, nobody threatened me, nobody even noticed me walking around in Boston alone. This was back in 1999, and there were kids younger than I was in the program, living in the dorms. The only thing they did was segregate the dorms into under-18 and over-18 in two different buildings, but I think that was more about the whole statutory rape issue- if the over-18s couldn’t get into a dorm room with the unders, nobody could have sex with anyone outside of their own age group! But nobody was kidnapped, nobody died.
    If only we could keep this in perspective today, that kids can handle themselves. My parents helped get my stuff in my room, took me out to lunch, and then left. I survived, and I think kids today could too.

  55. Sarah January 12, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

    When I was 15, I went to France for 11 days. We spent most of the trip touring all the chateaux and spent just a few days in Paris, which was the city the trip started and ended from. When we found out that we wouldn’t be going to see the Eiffel Tower at all, we were very disappointed. Until it turned out that we had a sort-of free day near the end of the trip. We were allowed to leave our hotel, although I think their *intent* was that we would mostly explore the city near our hotel. But we found our way to the metro station, figured out how the system worked despite not speaking anything beyond French 1, and got to the Eiffel Tower. Made our way to the top, took some fantastic pictures, had a great time, and made it safely back to the hotel.

    This was the high point to me from our entire trip, and a big part of it was the adventure of being in an unfamiliar country, not speaking the language, and yet still figuring out how to get around and going to a place we wanted all by ourselves.

    This was in 1995, so only 20 years ago (I know, “only”–but I mean, it wasn’t like 50 years ago or something!). And yet this program won’t even let the kids explore the campus a bit?

  56. hineata January 12, 2016 at 9:16 pm #

    Weird! I can understand forcing the kind of kids who study engineering being made to socialize in the evenings, lol (my son’s varsity group call themselves Nerdsicles, as does probably many ‘engineering’ social groups ☺), but escorts every time you leave the building? And not releasing kids to parents waiting in cars?

    I wonder if those running the programme were fans of Colditz as kids, and are trying to set up a situation where prisoners will have to tunnel out through the floor, or rappel down from the roof? Escaping through the kitchen was another good route, from memory. Come to think of it, if the guards are as ‘hot’ as Meyer Mohn was, I might see if I can join this summer course myself ☺.

  57. James Pollock January 12, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    So, this is a program that is not intended for us (or our children). It’s for the paranoid, small-town folk a-scared of the big city, and the like. Considering that constant supervision for high-school-age campers is labor-intensive (i.e., expensive), it’s likely that this is something the paying customers were demanding.

    Meh. I volunteer in a STEM program that has absolutely no such requirements. To each their own.

  58. ChicagoDad January 12, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

    When I got a drivers license, my mom told me not to leave the state without telling her first…it seemed very strict at the time. Before I got my license, I was limited to the range of my bike, or a bus pass, or my ability to persuade an upper classman to give me a ride.

    I got into the sort of mischief in high school that would be unfathomable today. I skipped class, I made out with my girlfriend, my friends and I shot BB guns at each other in the woods, I explored nearly empty buildings in our old decrepit downtown, and I even smoked some cigarettes [gasp!]

    I also discovered an obscure art gallery in the local college library, I found a small-town diner with the world’s best pork chops, and I fell in love for the first time. I read more, saw more and lived more than I could have thought possible.

    There just a few years of a person’s life where you can have rare combination of freedom, competence and lack of crushing financial responsibility to explore and experience life to the fullest. Why ruin it?

  59. pentamom January 12, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

    But I’m not talking about treating them like delinquents.

    I’m simply saying that the larger idea that there shouldn’t be rules because we can just somehow KNOW kids won’t get into serious trouble, is a bit ridiculous.

    Kids get into serious trouble ALL THE TIME. How does it make sense to say that we should trust that they won’t? I don’t mean we should be suspicious of all of them, but to take it to the opposite extreme and say that we should just believe that NONE of them will, is simply counter-factual.

    We don’t trust that adults won’t get into trouble — we have laws and security cameras. That doesn’t mean we’re distrustful of them all as individuals, but we also don’t simply trust that no adult will do anything bad so there’s nothing we need to do to lower the risk of it.

    How is it that and organization should “just trust” that zero of the kids they don’t know, will do anything to bring them into liability or disrepute, and therefore do nothing to guard against that?

  60. SKL January 12, 2016 at 11:26 pm #

    Well, my kids will be college students at 17 if not younger, and I dare them to try kicking my kids out for not being chaperoned. 😛

    I was a college student at 16 myself. Nothing bad happened. Hard to believe, I know.

  61. SanityAnyone? January 13, 2016 at 12:18 am #

    I just read about a free high school program in Israel geared to foreigners. I read their testimonials from 10th through 12th grade kids, many American, who attend. Yes, there are dorm and school rules, but also a lot of independence. They all talk about both the challenge and thrill of having to grow up a earlier than their peers, make decisions, manage limited money, learn a new language, make things work instead of buying new things, make mistakes that their parents could have helped them to avoid. It’s interesting to read how proud and capable they feel.

  62. sigh January 13, 2016 at 12:52 am #

    Too horrifying. When I was 15, I spent several weeks of a summer attending a program at the four-year college I ended up attending as a freshman… the following year. When I was 16.

    When I was 17, I was a resident assistant for the summer program at this same college. Many of the high schoolers attending were OLDER than I was. When they found out, they paid me MORE respect.

    The rules for that summer program? Well, the kids could come and go as they pleased, they did have to sign in and out of the dorm. There was a strictly-enforced curfew each night; I think it was 11:30. Lots of kids huffing and puffing, skidding down the linoleum halls at the last minute into their rooms.

    We had planned activities like movies at the auditorium on campus, but it was all optional.

    When I was an RA that one summer for the high schoolers, I had one gal come in drunk one night, and I had another who was addicted to laxatives— a bulimic. It was a real slice of life. But we all got through it.

    Can’t imagine what they would have had to pay me to escort all of these young women around campus all day on a leash. As it was, RAs were basically just getting free board so they could hang around campus and work during the summer. I didn’t spend a lot of time on campus during the day… I had other things to do. After all, my main duty was to be present in the evenings, and sleep there. An overnight resource for the kids. Not an all-day resource for the kids…

  63. Warren January 13, 2016 at 2:01 am #


    You really don’t get it do you? Nobody has said that there should be no rules. But you are still clinging onto to this logic that restricting and punishing everyone, because one or two of the group maybe, possibly do something wrong.

    You talk about laws. Laws are a set of rules in which society must operate. This is not what the program was doing. This program says we are not giving you rules to operate within, we are just not going to allow you to operate at all. That is a big difference.

  64. BL January 13, 2016 at 4:58 am #

    “Kids get into serious trouble ALL THE TIME.”

    Really? What’s ‘serious’? Murder, rape and robbery? I don’t think kids (or adults) do those things all the time.

    Of course, if you impose enough rules that nobody can take action without violating them, and call every one of them ‘serious’, then indeed they will be in serious trouble all the time.

  65. Elin January 13, 2016 at 5:31 am #

    Actually my comment is based on quite a lot of experience of kids being a teacher and former scout leader. It is a huge responsibility to take care of other people’s children and to manage a large group of unknown children. To do this effectively you need to have rules. What is in the article is ridiculous and goes much too far but it is not wise to give a 16-17 year old in this type of program total freedom. To have a curfew when you need to stay indoors is reasonable to me, that way the people responsible for the program can check that everyone is there and that they seem fine. I don’t think the kids should have to go to bed at a certain time but that at one point roaming around outside stops. I said at night and by that I mean the time when most people sleep, not after dark so I expect a curfew of 10-11, not at 6. It also gives an opportunity for the ones who do need to go to bed to have any use of the activities the following day a possibility to retreat and not feel like they are silly for wanting to go to bed.

    Having ID when around campus is reasonable too in my view because then other people will know why someone who seems young to be there is there and staff can more easily identify someone who does need help that way. Yes, 16-17 year olds are big kids but they are not always as grown up as they think and I have worked with kids this age and I know that they can also be quite fragile and confused at times and having access to adults who are truly helpful is also important as well as freedom.

    I think that they really should get a chance of experiencing being in college during the day but I don’t think it is reasonable to have them have total freedom when they are sent there to take part of a program and are not just making a visit to the area.

    I have no problem with parents making choices to be much more free-range with their 16-17 year olds outside this program but it is different when it is a child you know extremely well like your own child, a child you know well like when you are a scout leader and a program like this were the leaders will most likely not know anything about the kids and their decision making skills.

    An example from scouting. The kids have pitched their tents and built their fire places. They come and ask if there are more things to do or if they have free time. To some you just say yes and have fun. Others you remind that they need to treat their environment with care and not destroy things. Some you remind of keeping close enough to camp to find their way back or that they are not strong swimmers and need to be careful when bathing. Some you might even have to suggest to say close to their peers at all times because you know they are totally unreliable and just cannot be left without supervision even at quite advanced ages. But this is when you know someone, this program will not allow this to a degree where you do not need to have any rules at all.

    As to trips overseas, that is a decision of each parent and it is appropriate for some kids this age and for some it is not. It is really that simple and this is why I support rules of some kind in the situation that is described above. Personally I would prioritize a trip for the whole family before just sending a teen alone. I went to Russia on a school trip a couple of months before my 18th birthday. It was fun but I did drink alcohol which I knew my parents would not have allowed back home. I can’t say I made great decisions in this respect during my trip and I was still one of the more reliable teens on that trip. I also had dinner at a mafia restaurant because it was cool despite there being other places not associated with them. At least I didn’t get lost like one guy, neither did I go to a casino with some thug who got shot in the eye by some other thug. This happened during that trip and perhaps is why I am not absolutely in favor of “do what you like when in a foreign country”.

  66. BL January 13, 2016 at 6:23 am #

    ” I went to Russia on a school trip a couple of months before my 18th birthday. It was fun but I did drink alcohol which I knew my parents would not have allowed back home”

    Reminds me of a story told me by a co-worker.

    He was a high school senior in upstate New York and his class went on a field trip to the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto.

    At lunch, in full view of the teachers chaperoning the trip, he ordered a beer.

    Now the drinking age in New York is 21, but it’s 18 in Ontario, and this guy was 18. The server in Toronto made him show ID, then proceeded to get the beer.

    The teachers had a big loud hissy, of course. My friend simply insisted that what he was doing was perfectly legal in Ontario. And drank his beer.

    Of course, the school then added a no-drinking rule to its school policy. Previously they had not thought they needed one because the drinking age (theoretically left to the states) is 21 throughout the US due to federal policy (states lose their federal highway funding if they set it any lower). Who needs school policy when there’s already a law forbidding what you want to ban? Heh, heh.

  67. Andy January 13, 2016 at 6:48 am #

    The whole “escorting students to breakfast” think sounds ridiculous and driven by wish to look good for fearful parents.

    However, it is perfectly ok for a camp to organize evening or afternoon program and to expect students to be present and camp site. In camps I have been to, evenings were part of experience and mixed education with random fun. If you do not want to be present at activities, maybe do not go and leave a place for someone who wants to do that camp. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with camp expecting kids to stay in camp or nearby so the program can start whenever organizers need it.

    It is ok for a camp to have a lot of free time when students just play and do nothing organized. I am fully fine with that. However it is also ok to have engineering camp full of activities and being outraged over that is just ridiculous. Social program, gamey puzzle solving and physical activities are as much part of engineering camps as lectures in my experience.

    Especially when camps has no curfew, majority of those future engineers turns out to be unable to hold attention during lectures. Put curfew in place and bang, suddenly they are alert, have intelligent questions and workable solutions. No curfew and their questions and solutions to exercises are … less smart. That is just a fact whether I like the “coercion” involved in it or not.

    It would be great if 16-17 would be able to go to sleep without being instructed soon enough to be capable next morning. Reality is that they are not, curfew makes them sleep more and be usable next day.

    It used to be normal for 16-17 years old to go hike or spend few days in cabin during holidays as a group without being with adults. It still is normal around here. If you want that level of independence, go to do that. However, that has nothing to do with whether students should listen organizers instructions over where and when activities are when they join organized camp. Just as I expect 16-17 years old to be independent to some extend, I expect them to be able to postpone the doing what you want at given moment when they voluntary join organized camp.

    Whole bunch of people travelling alone or doing whatever at that age does not imply that every camp should ditch their program for the sake of students having free time or compromise educational program or just having it harder on responsible adults. It just means that if ability to act freely on every impulse you have that week or having a lot of free time that week is the important thing for you, maybe do not go to the camp, but go hiking with friends instead.

    Not everything needs to be freedom and independence exercise. It is fine to have “we organized it so that you learn as much about motors as possible” kind of camp too. It is also fine to have “we are packing it with activities and expect you to join” kind of camp too. Yes, such camps are more tiring because there is little downtime – it being tiring experience does not make it bad or worthless.

  68. shdd January 13, 2016 at 8:08 am #

    My daughter at age 13 had more freedom at karate camp. They never wore name tags, there was a night time curfew but most events (except meals and karate) were optional. My daughter skipped swimming once because she didn’t want to go. She was able to stay in her dorm room, read a couple of pages in a book, played on her phone, and got ready for karate. Everyone in camp came back before karate to change so she didn’t walk alone to karate but she could have it she needed to. She was on a private high school campus. She did call me every night which wasn’t a requirement but she wanted to tell me about her day.

  69. andy January 13, 2016 at 8:26 am #

    @lollipoplover “What if there’s a fire? Have they considered students taking this too literally and trying to find appropriate supervision to avoid being dismissed and facing far greater consequences than breaking this asinine rule?”

    Despite popular stereotypes and insulting nerd jokes in all popular media, most tech liking students are not that autistic. And those few who really are autistic to that level really do need more supervision then the rest. Mostly because they are the ones very likely to get lost in an unknown environment and then reaching to stupid decisions instead of practical ones. Or just generally doing something completely absurd and creating problem you will have to solve (I said stupid not illegal or evil.)

  70. sexhysteria January 13, 2016 at 8:46 am #

    A model for how the government will be treating all adult citizens someday.

  71. That_Susan January 13, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    @JB: I completely agree about fear being a gift when we don’t desensitize ourselves by becoming afraid of everything.

    @Warren: It turns out a got a little mixed up when recalling some of the details. Here’s a link to the actual article and video about what happened. http://fox4kc.com/2016/01/05/girl-10-fought-off-man-who-grabbed-her-at-her-kc-bus-stop/

  72. BMS January 13, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    All through high school I commuted an hour each way via public transit into downtown Chicago. After school, we had the run of the entire city, from the time we were 14 or 15 years old. And these kids can’t even walk around a college campus alone? Heck, my kids were dropped off on the street, made their way through campus and up to my office when they were 8 or 9, and somehow lived, even though the campus is in downtown Boston. Ok, it was noon, not midnight, but still. Unless the campus is in a war zone, this makes no sense.

  73. Warren January 13, 2016 at 11:32 am #


    You sound far too paranoid for my liking.

    While you are trying desperately to prevent your kids from ever doing some of the things you’ve done, the rest of us see things for what they are.

    Myself and others see your omg things as normal events in the growth and exploration of life.

    Most teens have tried a drink, if not have some every once in awhile. Is that legal? NO. Is it normal? Yes. Is it something to be concerned about? Hell no.

    An example of how people are different. Paranoid versus real. My oldest now 24, a college grad., and now a full time teacher, was over and we were playing a truth or consequences type game with her and our friends. She got asked during the game if she had ever tried weed. She replied honestly, with twice in high school. One parent, who is like you, asked me later if that bothered me. My reply was, “Honestly I would be concerned if she said she hadn’t.”

    There are plenty of things to deal with as parents, but trying to make sure they don’t make any mistakes, is not one of them. Even more so when they are pretty much rites of passage sort of growing pains mistakes.

  74. Warren January 13, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    that susan,

    Still at 3:30 pm, unless they were out in the middle of absolutely nowhere, how could nobody else see this. I prefer to stay skeptical on this one. Ski mask, altercation, lots of noise, on the bus route and no witnesses. Sorry it does not pass the BS test.

  75. Kristin M January 13, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    The only reason I can think of for the ‘need’ to be constantly chaperoned, even at that age is because they would be on a college campus, presumably with college students still in attendance for their own summer classes. And even ‘smart kids’ can be lead astray sometimes. I know from experience that I found drugs (marijuana), and alcohol within the first few days of being an actual college student. So I can believe that a high school student may find those same temptations within the same time frame at a ‘camp’ on a college campus.
    So to forego any issues that may cause a lawsuit by a parent of a camper, the children (even of that age) will be lead and chaperoned to and from every destination.

  76. That_Susan January 13, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    Warren, you could be right. I guess there’s no way to really know for sure.

  77. Papilio January 13, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    Whose story was it again about having to travel from Paris (?) to Genève but ending up in Genua? 😀

  78. Ann January 13, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    Our HS is run like this every day. Signing out to go to the bathroom- let alone to your car for forgotten (backpack/glasses/gym shoes, whatever…) – is like going before a parole hearing. I can’t even send in a note to let my HS senior (NHS member, 14th in her class, 2-sport captain, never, EVER, received a behavior referral) leave during the day, and return, without lying about the reason. Even if I deem it OK for her to leave school for whatever reason – without a “valid” excuse, she is penalized. These kids are being forced out into the world in a matter of months and they cant even go to the bathroom without asking permission right now. It makes me angry how far we have fallen.

  79. Donna January 13, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

    “because one or two of the group maybe, possibly do something wrong.”

    Actually, I can guarantee you that a substantial percentage will do something that their parents would find less than desirable, unless they are a group of total nerds. That is to be expected. It is perfectly normal for anyone to cut loose somewhat while on vacation (Even us adults usually eat junk food and drink more alcohol than usual while on vacation). This is even more expected when it is a large group of teens egging each other on.

    As normal as it is for teens to drink (have sex, smoke weed, etc.), a camp that brings home all the kids with hangovers is not going to last very long. There is nothing wrong with a camp having rules geared toward limiting the opportunity of this happening. THESE rules are way over-the-top, but a curfew and some limits as to where the kids can roam are not unreasonable.

  80. Elin January 14, 2016 at 6:02 am #


    You are making me laugh. I really cannot see where you detect my paranoia. No, I am not too fond of the idea of my child going to another country on her own at 16-17 age, she hopefully has a whole life ahead of her to do so and I don’t see that travelling with your family is such an evil that the child would risk being repressed from it. Plenty of kids never get a holiday abroad. Also, from a learning point of view, the language programs at universities are often far superior to the programs offered for younger kids and I am not much for wasting money so I would tell my child to go when she qualifies for one of those instead.

  81. Emily January 14, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    About the “regularly enrolled students might corrupt the summer campers” argument, I don’t think that’s likely. When I was in university, we had several short-term outside programs come to our campus through the years, and we never paid much attention, because we were all busy with our own classes, rehearsals, activities, friends, and other ongoing things. My alma mater, Bishop’s University, even shared a campus with a CEGEP (pre-university college program for 16-18 year olds), and since the CEGEP students had their own schedule, and their own main building, we didn’t see them much, aside from pre-existing friendships from high school (for Quebec natives, anyway–I grew up in Ontario). Anyway, my point is, there was a huge stigma attached to being anything more than platonic and G-rated with a CEGEP student. First-year university students were fair game, but since a CEGEP student could be only 16 (or 15 with a late birthday), everyone was really careful, in order to avoid accusations of “creepy” at best, and “statutory rape” at worst. So, the idea that university students are deranged rapists, is pretty off-base.

  82. Emily January 14, 2016 at 8:46 am #

    P.S., I don’t know if the CEGEP students had a curfew, but they were certainly allowed to traverse the campus unescorted in the daytime, and it was never a problem.

  83. BL January 14, 2016 at 8:55 am #

    “regularly enrolled students might corrupt the summer campers”

    By that argument, college and high school students shouldn’t be living in the same neighborhood. Or even the same town.

  84. Warren January 14, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    The thing is, it is just so very disappointing that so many of you don’t trust your kids. And don’t give me the crap about it being “I trust my kid, it is the others I don’t trust.”, because that is the world’s biggest cop out.

  85. James Pollock January 14, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    Parents who choose constant-supervision activities for their kids might be doing so because they know their kids better than you do, and their kids, specifically, need the supervision. YOURS don’t, MINE didn’t… this doesn’t mean that THEIRS don’t.

    To paraphrase something I was told recently, there’s a big difference between one institution or organization doing something and a government mandate that all of them do it, or face punishment (fear of arrest).

  86. SKL January 14, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    Kids don’t have perfect judgement, but I’m pretty sure young adults do more seriously dangerous and illegal things than scholarly 16-17yos. If the real concern was preventing all serious foolishness, they would have the same rules for the regular college students. (Not saying they should, just that the thinking there is illogical.)

    I am sure the real concern is lawsuits. “You were supposed to be watching my kid, and look what you allowed to happen!”

    Maybe parent shouldn’t let their kid go mix in a university environment if they feel their kid isn’t mature enough for it.

  87. That_Susan January 14, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    “I am sure the real concern is lawsuits. ‘You were supposed to be watching my kid, and look what you allowed to happen!'”

    This. Of course, I don’t think any parent HERE would sue a camp like this if, for example, their daughter decided to engage in consensual sex and came home pregnant. But some parents would. Rather than having all these rules, it makes more sense to have parents sign some sort of disclaimer about not holding the camp responsible if the young person uses his or her free time to consensually do something that the parents might disapprove of.

    I certainly feel like my own 15-year-old is old enough to decide whether she wants to have sex or not — but some parents would probably freak out over having to sign such a disclaimer, as if they were “guaranteeing” that their teen would do something crazy.

  88. That_Susan January 14, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    “Maybe parent shouldn’t let their kid go mix in a university environment if they feel their kid isn’t mature enough for it.”

    I agree completely. But I suppose the camp feels they’ll make more money by satisfying the parents who want their kids to be treated like preschoolers. The general assumption seems to be that parents won’t be upset about too much supervision — only too little. So by appealing to the control freaks, they’ll get EVERYONE, whereas if they appealed to the free-rangers, they’d lose the control freaks. It sounds like the free-range parents who would have considered such a camp but decided against it because of the over-the-top supervision should write a letter letting the organizers know WHY the camp won’t be getting any of THEIR money. If they feel like this decision is costing them severely enough, they’ll rethink their policies.

  89. Donna January 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm #


    What do you mean by trust? Trust her not to go along with a crowd doing something stupid, albeit fun, 100% of the time? Trust her to never come up with a stupid idea herself? Trust her to abstain from alcohol until 21, sex until marriage and drugs and cigarettes always? Nope. I don’t even expect any of that to happen nor do you based on your own statements.

    Despite the fact that I am tolerant of my kid experimenting with these things, I respect the fact that a camp may want to limit the possibilities on their watch. Some of the things are illegal and no camp is going to want to be seen as endorsing them. A bust of 10 of their 16-17 year olds drunk in a bar is going to shut them down. Thus rules.

  90. Warren January 14, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    You are as bad as the rest. You all are assuming it is chiseled in stone that something will happen. Not that it may happen, but you all are so absolutely certain that it will happen.

    That is pathetic,

  91. Andy January 14, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    @Warren @Donna I have been in normal camps, sport camps and learning camps. I never seen one that would be fully alcohol and smoking free. It is reasonable for adults responsible for camp to limit that sort of thing – if nothing else just for themselves because drunk teenagers wont clean bathroom full of vomit properly. No, a beer by the students is not a big problem and smokers are people who smoked before camp and will be smoking after camp.

    It not being end of world problem does not mean it is somehow outrageous for adults legally responsible for them to limit occasions for things we do not want teenagers do too much but teenagers themselves seek.

    Besides, out of 90 teenagers, one group of friends is guaranteed to do something stupid. If you are legally responsible for them, then it is good idea to have that stupid controlled. Because when you don’t, stupid gets worse and will impact also better kids. “Nothing never happens and all teenagers are perfectly trustworthy” is as out of reality as “they all die certainly”.

  92. That_Susan January 14, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

    Warren, I agree that those rules are over-the-top, but I also see Donna’s point about the people organizing the camp wanting to protect themselves from being shut down. There are many differences between young people: some will wait until they’re adults to drink, have sex, or engage in recreational drug use (and a few will never, ever have sex, drink, or use drugs), and some will do these things before becoming adults. Among those who try out illegal activities like smoking marijuana, some will be very smart about choosing times and places where they won’t get “busted.” Some won’t be so smart.

    Also, people running camps have to consider the fact that the majority of U.S. kids haven’t been enjoying free-range childhoods or adolescences. And when kids who’ve been relatively constricted are SUDDENLY thrown into a situation with a lot of freedom and much less supervision that they’re used to, they tend to go a bit crazier than kids who are used to being trusted by their parents.

    Case in point: my teenaged daughter and I are still floored by the information Lenore linked to a while back about the teen girls who were contacted online by a man posing as a cute teenaged boy. One girl even went out and blithely hopped into a white van with tinted windows! In contrast, my daughter recently let me know that she’d been chatting with someone on Tinder that she’d like to meet in person. I was a bit surprised that she’d joined Tinder, but I didn’t say anything about my surprise.

    On the Sunday afternoon of the date, I dropped her off at a local vegan bakery and went to a nearby parking lot where I read a book and relaxed a bit, with my cell phone handy in case she wanted me to come sooner than planned. Shortly before I was supposed to go pick her up, she called to ask if I could come a little later so they could walk over to a nearby bookshop. I picked her up at the time she asked me to come, with absolutely no worries that she’d be jumping into white vans or engaging in any other potentially life-threatening activities. She had a great time.

    Since my husband and I don’t go ballistic over the idea of our teen having online communications with strangers, our daughter doesn’t have to live her life on the defensive. Since she doesn’t have to waste tons of energy trying to hide her behavior from us (or rationalize it to us), this frees up her mind to approach life more rationally and intelligently. Before the date, one her (sort of) friends at church told her, “It’s Tinder. You’re probably being cat-fished” (now I’ve learned that “catfish” is a verb and not just a noun, LOL). Dd was kind of irritated by her friend’s pessimism, but I was like, “What’s the big deal?! You’ll be in a public place, and I can come get you right away if things aren’t what they seem.” I suppose the word is going around church now that our 15-year-old daughter is on Tinder, and I may be off the consideration list for “Parent of the Year” awards. That’s okay, because I care a lot more about my child’s happiness and safety than I do about whether I’m getting chewed up over Tinder.

  93. Emily January 14, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    Andy, I see what you’re saying, but “trust the students, or not” isn’t a binary choice. It’d be reasonable to have a curfew for the summer program, and to take attendance at classes and mandatory activities, and it’d be reasonable to restrict the summer campers to campus, or within walking distance thereof (so, no taking public transit). However, this program is refusing to give its 16 and 17-year-old participants (who’ll be in college or university in a year or two, and could be camp counsellors for children now) any trust or freedom at all. They escort the students to all classes and meals, enforce mandatory social time in the common room in the evenings, and don’t let the students go outside, or even enter any floor other than their own, unsupervised. If you leave out the “engineering” part, those rules make the camp sound like a punishment camp for juvenile delinquents, not a fun and educational camp for the responsible, intelligent, curious young adults who’d be likely to want to go to engineering camp in the first place. Yes, there’s always the “vote with your feet” option, but the reality is, for a lot of people (especially those living outside big cities), there aren’t going to be a lot of engineering camps to choose from, so it’d have to be either the super-strict engineering camp, or none at all…..and, for students (and parents) who are intent on earning admission into a post-secondary engineering camp in the near future (because, these mistrusted and infantilized young adults still face massivec academic demands), “no engineering camp at all” might not be a viable option either. Also, for all we know, maybe the free-range engineering camp parents have voiced their concerns, but the program organizers have deliberately done nothing, because the control-freak parents are in the majority.

  94. Emily January 14, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

    P.S., when I said “post-secondary engineering camp,” I meant “post-secondary engineering program,” meaning an engineering program at a college or university.

  95. andy January 14, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

    @Emily I mostly agree with you. The kind of rules you describe sound reasonable to me. I also agree that “Students are restricted from being on any floor or wing other than the one assigned without an accompanying Summer Conference Resident Assistant. Students will not be discharged to parents in waiting cars. Students found outside the building without supervision will be dismissed.” are all over the top.

    I disagreed with what sounded to me as opposite extreme in discussion, the idea that a camp with some rules on (like those you describe) would be bad too.

  96. Donna January 14, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    “You all are assuming it is chiseled in stone that something will happen.”

    Yep. Through vast years of experience from my own childhood, my brother’s childhood (which was not the same childhood since he is so many years younger than me), and my friends who have teenagers now childhoods, it will happen. If the group is large, I absolutely 100% guaranteed that some group of kids will do something stupid or at least get drunk. I can’t remember a camp or retreat or activity where someone didn’t smuggle in alcohol in high school and I was into all the nerdy things so who knows what was going on at the non-nerdy functions. Hell, our class valedictorian, salutatorian and most of the other school honor students all got suspended following some stupid drunken shenanigans that they should have known better than to do at a retreat my senior year.

    But, sometimes you are as bad as James. You basically just want to argue and insult people. You have said several times that you know that your daughter smoked weed, drank alcohol and probably had sex in high school. You have said numerous times that it is just normal kid behavior. Somehow you believe that they ONLY do these things at home and not at camp?

  97. Donna January 14, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    “I’m pretty sure young adults do more seriously dangerous and illegal things than scholarly 16-17yos.”

    Sure, but adults aren’t legally responsible for the acts and the welfare of other adults. You running amok is of no concern to me. I cannot be held legally responsible for any damage that you cause or any pain you inflict on yourself. I don’t have to clean up your vomit or take you to the hospital when you fall off a railroad trestle that you thought would be fun to climb (happens here in my college town annually). However, adults are legally responsible for the acts and welfare of minors and 16-17 year olds are still minors. It is perfectly reasonable for the adults that will ultimately be responsible for the acts and welfare of said minors to try to limit what they will be responsible for and have to do.

    “If the real concern was preventing all serious foolishness, they would have the same rules for the regular college students.”

    I agree that college students are generally no less likely to engage in tom foolery, but college students are generally adults so the first paragraph applies.

    Further, there is a difference between high school and college. I can think of several things that I would prefer that my child wait until college to do. Sex is one thing. I don’t have the slightest problem with premarital sex nor any belief that it is wrong to do it at 16 or 17. I simply think life is easier if you wait until you are out of the cesspool that is high school.

    “I am sure the real concern is lawsuits.”

    That may be a concern, but the main concern is their livelihood. Most parents are not going to send their kids to a camp where kids are allowed to simply do whatever they want to do. The rules in this case are way over the top, but parents expect some rules.

  98. Warren January 14, 2016 at 5:54 pm #


    Not once did I say that there shouldn’t be any rules. You are the one being as ignorant as James. I even gave an example of a curfew. What I am against is the absolute distrust of teens by adults.

    You see the way I was brought up, and raised my kids, is that when you are on trips or activities like this, is when you don’t screw up. It is when you are on you best behaviour. Now if your kids and you are a bunch of delinquents don’t assume that everyone else is. You talk like a group of teens is nothing more than a bomb of evil and sin waiting to happen. That puts you clearly in the give your head a shake category.

  99. Donna January 14, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

    “You talk like a group of teens is nothing more than a bomb of evil and sin waiting to happen.”

    Nope. Not even close to what I said in any post I’ve made.

    Teens drinking, having sex and doing the occasional ridiculous thing is not remotely evil or sinful or delinquent. If you think it is, that says more about you than the teens. It is perfectly normal teenage behavior. Not something that every teen will do, but pretty damn common teenage behavior. Since it is also behavior that most parents prohibit, it is something teens frequently want to do when away from said parents, especially when in large groups of strangers egging each other on.

  100. hineata January 14, 2016 at 10:34 pm #

    Midge just returned last night from an 11-day teen camp/expedition up north, and I am sure, seeing it was quite loosely run (there were between one and two thousand teens, not quite sure as comms weren’t the greatest ☺) that somebody on it either smoked pot, got drunk or had sex. Everyone seemed to have a blast though, even with the fairly loose organization. They had groups traveling all over the middle of the North Island ….Midge ended up cooking in Hamilton (a couple of hundred km from the main site ). She’s come back with a new confidence about talking with strangers (something she’s a bit hoha about, as she’s quite difficult to understand, some new friends and also some understanding of the frustrations of intercity bus travel ☺.

    My point? I think I know where the administration of these programs is coming from, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. Personally I would flip my lid at this particular child of mine if she had sex, not because of moral objections so much (though I DO, as stated ad nauseum, object on moral grounds to pre-marital sex, my right under Freedom of Religion ☺) but in her case because of physical maturity issues, but she is aware of and owns her own ‘stuff’. I can’t see the point of getting cross at programme staff…..The type of rules being propogated above invite teens to do something ridiculous, just for the heck of it.

  101. SKL January 15, 2016 at 12:13 am #

    Why are we assuming the university is legally responsible for whatever these students do just because they are under 18?

    When I was a 16yo college student, I was no different from any other student. I took a backpacking class that first semester. We camped overnight in tents. There was not one thing preventing me from getting drunk or having sex with every person there, except for the fact that I had no desire to do so. And if I had done it, there is no way my parents would have thought of suing. They would have thought, well, this is one of the risks of sending your 16yo to college.

    If I send my teen to a rock concert, or a bowling alley, or the rec center, or any other place that allows unsupervised teens in, I don’t assume my kids are the responsibility of the people running the place. In general, nobody has to be like a parent to my teen except for me.

  102. hineata January 15, 2016 at 12:46 am #

    @SKL – know it’s off topic, but is backpacking an actual class with credits? Or did you mean club? That’s fascinating…I would have loved the chance to do a paper in that ☺.

  103. Petvet January 15, 2016 at 12:59 am #

    Just as many engineering students tend to be introvert, many engineering students and their parents tend to like control. At least most of be engineers I know tend to micromanage so they can be in control. So this brochure and the policies mentioned are probably catering to the control “freak”

  104. andy January 15, 2016 at 4:11 am #

    @SKL When you are organizing camp or activity for teenagers, then you are legally responsible for them. You was probably an exception when you was studying at college at 16, so it was all organized for adults with you sort of being there too. Attitudes towards rules changed I think too, I seem to me but administration (including most companies) these days tend to be quite petty with rules and legal.

    I am ok with a group of 16-17 years old friends having trust of parents and going camping without adults. Or 17 years old going without parents in foreign country. I would not blame parents for allowing any of that and it is very likely I would allow that.

    But, organizing educational camp for a group of 16-17 strangers is different. Beyond what we already wrote about, students who party too much are destroying experience of better students. Even students who would not be above drinking one or two beers dislike when they can not sleep cause someone else is partying too much unchecked or if bathroom smells of vomit. Those simply wont come back next time and those are the people you want to come back. They wont call layer, they will just find different camp in which they will not have to deal with that crap and group of jerks effectively running the place.

    Many kids (not all but many) who go to these camps really want to learn about whatever topic is, If overall atmosphere is not helping to that, they wont come again. The way you craft the rules influences atmosphere.

    Also, many of such educational camps are not like living alone and having classes in the morning. They tend to be packed with activities from morning till evening. Not because kid would shoot heroin otherwise, but because they attract kids who want to be active, want more intensive experience, want to play/compete/learn as much as possible. Before someone throws around introverts, introverts are not disabled hermits and cope perfectly fine for a week or two. Many activities are solitary or in small groups and that is where introverts shine.

  105. Warren January 15, 2016 at 8:20 am #

    Just for the heck of it. How many here actually have kids in this age bracket, or have recently gone through this stage with their kids.

    I have 2 smack in the age group, and my oldest 24 was one of those that went on as many school excursions as she could. I have been talking to them about this issue, and they confirmed my thoughts on it. Of all the trips that my oldest ever went on, there was only one incident of note, for drinking, and it was on a weekend hockey tournament. Which doesn’t surprise me, sporting events and drinking……well it happens. That was one incident out of at least a dozen trips. A few students, out of thousands. Oh and guess what, no big rule changes, no big investigations…………..they trip organizers dealt with the offenders only.

    And according to my oldest, whose opinion and honesty I value more than pretty much anyone’s, when students are away from home is not when they are going to take big chances, it is not when they are going to screw up. The consequences are too great. She says that all these things you people are worried about, drinking, drugs, sex and whatever…………..it is happening under your roof or under the roof of a friend’s.

  106. Warren January 15, 2016 at 8:26 am #


    I know what you mean about engineers. One of my best friend’s husband is an engineer. Nice guy once you get past the OCD, control freak that has to think about and plan things for 4 hours before doing it. When they have something they need done at their place, she always calls and gets my help. That way a half hour job takes half and hour. And unless it is way out of my technical ability, I will not call him for help. Like I said nice guy, but wow sometimes.

  107. Emily January 15, 2016 at 9:02 am #

    Andy, like I said, I can see having some rules (alcohol ban, reasonable curfew, attendance taken at classes), but escorting young adults through every moment of every day of engineering camp, is just going to make them resentful. After all, allowing a teenager to go outside alone isn’t going to turn that teenager into a raucous, drunken party animal, and the “constant supervision” thing probably creates a fair number of problems, stemming from having no privacy for a whole camp session. As for the “introverts aren’t disabled hermits” argument, that’s true, but I wouldn’t have gone to, say, a music camp like that at that age, because I simply couldn’t cope with all interaction, all the time. I’m sure others would feel the same way, because a lot of people interested in learning during school breaks, are introverts, and an educational camp disregarding introverts’ needs, is losing a lot of participants. Also, what’s the deal with the regularly enrolled Sprawling U students charged with supervising the engineering camp? The intense supervision they’re mandated to provide, would surely leave them with no time to take classes themselves, but it seems absurd that the university would think that supervising a gaggle of practically grown, future engineers, could be a full-time job.

  108. James Pollock January 15, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    “Andy, like I said, I can see having some rules (alcohol ban, reasonable curfew, attendance taken at classes), but escorting young adults through every moment of every day of engineering camp, is just going to make them resentful.”

    You’re making the assumption that what they told the parents was happening is actually what is happening. I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

    ” Also, what’s the deal with the regularly enrolled Sprawling U students charged with supervising the engineering camp? The intense supervision they’re mandated to provide, would surely leave them with no time to take classes themselves”
    How do you figure? Full-time students who are employed by the university are limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session.

  109. SKL January 15, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    The problem is, they are not just forbidding things no teen should do while at a camp. (Alcohol and other drugs, sleeping around….). They are saying kids will be thrown out if they do things that aren’t even wrong – like take a walk alone. Really? Because every time a teen walks from one building to another, or goes out for a quiet walk or a jog, or needs to take a private detour for hygiene purposes, it becomes impossible for everyone else to focus on the purpose of the camp?

    When I was a teen, living in a crowded house, I used those times alone out walking / bike riding to collect my thoughts. A lot of personal growth took place then. It probably saved my relationships and my sanity. It’s crazy that people are now afraid of giving teens time alone.

  110. andy January 15, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    @Emily I did not defended escorting them every moment of their camp?

    As for the introverts argument, I find that they are used like hammers in these discussions to write off whatever activity/event whoever randomly dislike greatly exaggerating how they are. Measured by psychological tests, half the population are introverts. Really, half. Reading these discussions, one would think they are rare and almost disabled.

    They are the people who create smaller discuss groups while going somewhere instead of create one loud pack. Or just don’t talk to anyone for a while. At least around here, nobody is preventing that. Not even when organizer is going with them to lunch for whatever reason (like for example, there are reserved tables and time or organizers need to eat too). If you try to make them into one loud pack, you will fail anyway and wont try again. Does not mean they will crumble into pieces just because group had reserved tables for eating at particular time. It just means they will communicate within multiple smaller groups instead of everyone with everybody.

    Really, introverts including pretty extreme ones coped with camps full of activities, at least judging from fact that they came back and gave us good rating. All it requires is you not forcing them into interaction before they are comfortable or expecting them to react in big way. Neither excludes organized program as long as your program does not require them to sing loudly in front of everybody. Especially in the beginning, well organized “get to know each other” session has more value for introverts and shy, because extroverts were already getting know each other while unpacking.

    And all of this has nothing to do with overly controlling rules. Those are guaranteed to bring you rebellion or people not coming back, but not because they were introverted.

  111. Red January 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    I went to a music camp on a major university campus several summers during junior high (6th-8th grade), and it was less restrictive than this.

    We needed to be at our classes/rehearsals and we needed to be in bed at bed check. When my clarinet dropped a pad during camp, one of the instructors recommended a music shop and told me which bus to take to get there and back.

    I spent way too much time hanging out at the quad on my own or with other campers. And there were always college students about since there summer semester was ongoing at the same time. Mainly the college students ignored the campers (music camp wasn’t the only junior high camp going on) and the campers ignored the college students.

  112. James Pollock January 15, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

    Back in the olden days, there were lots of summer camps on the university campus. The two most noticeable were the cheerleader camps (because they practiced, outside, in uniforms) and the Mormons (because at the end, they bicycled off, in pairs, also “in uniform”, to see of any of the locals might be in need of a new religion.)

    One major difference… we were in a collegel town, that dropped to a population of maybe 5000 during the summer, not in a big city that operates 24 hours a day, like NYC.

  113. hineata January 15, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

    @Warren – interesting question. My three are 19 down to 14 at the moment. The older two have both been on several ‘away’ trips of different types, particularly the 19 year old. Two of the trips he’s been on were ‘noho marae’ which basically meant everyone slept in the ‘meeting house’, one big room in which sexual or illicit activity would have been pretty obvious ☺. Others though involved cabins, rooms etc, and no one engaged in anything criminal or particularly silly. The 16 year old reported the same thing ….

    A sample size of two, statistically ridiculous, but I could probably conduct some ‘qualitative research’ if I added in Warren’s kids ☺.

  114. Warren January 15, 2016 at 11:48 pm #

    Was thinking about different trips I took at that age, without my parents. Considering dad worked shift work, my mom worked full time, and my younger brother was only 8 to 9 at the time, I took a fair share of unsupervised trips.

    Most of which were hockey and ball tournaments. Many of which were more than 4 hours from home. I drove myself in the car that I went halves on with my dad. Paid my own way, gas, food and lodgings. Booked my own motel room. Also drove two to three teammates there as well.

    Routinely would go by myself at that age to our trailer for anywhere from a couple of days to a week, on my own or with a buddy. Basically for the fishing, and to pig out on a heavy red meat diet. Used to go down to the St. Lawrence Market and pick up a some awesome steaks. In Scarborough there is a great little bakery that made the most awesome mutton rolls. It is a wonder there was any room in the arteries for blood, lol.

    Teens don’t need to be hand held. Like my dad said before me, if you cannot trust your teen, then you failed as a parent years ago.

  115. Warren January 15, 2016 at 11:55 pm #

    For my Canadian friends. Was sixteen, when in Jan. drove from Pickering to Sault Ste. Marie, for a weekend hockey tournament. Left after school on Thurs. with one other teammate. We stayed in Sudbury that night and went on to the Sault the next morning. Made the drive back Pickering on Monday. Ran into some nasty winter weather on the way up, but coming home was smooth. That in a 1977 Buick Century, the boat. LOL.

    Hell my parents would be doing 5 to 10 years, by today’s standard. LOL

  116. lollipoplover January 16, 2016 at 7:59 am #

    @Warren- And you did it all without a cellphone or smart phone app with advanced weather and mapping technology (my favorite is the waze app).

    You know what I love about traveling with my older kids? They can problem solve almost any situation (overbooked hotel, long wait at chosen restaurant, road closures) with their phones. While it’s nice to have set plans for any itinerary, it’s also fine to allow some variations or changes based on group preferences (not all kids want to go to mandatory social time or eat bland cafeteria food all week) and reasonable considerations. If you treat them like prisoners with no choices, they will look for trouble in other ways. They always do. Teens are good at this.

    My 12 year-old went to her first overnight sports camp last summer. It was co-ed, mixed ages 9-17, and they all slept in the same college dorm, mixed sexes on the floors. They had outdoor adirondack chairs set up on the lawns for the kids to hang outdoors (there was no air conditioning in the dorms). Oh, the humanity.

    When I checked her in, we were horribly late and coming from a swim meet (still in her bathing suit) where she was the last event and she missed the orientation), her instructors for the week were these drop-dead gorgeous soccer studs with British and Aussie accents. I wanted to check myself into that camp. She shared a room and bathroom with 2 other girls. These kids were there to play lots of soccer, not throw keggers. The staff took them off campus to other colleges to have friendlies with other teams. She got to play in several college stadiums on turf. Very cool experience. She also tore a muscle in her quad (there are downfalls to playing 12 hours of soccer each day) and the trainers took wonderful care of her.

    I know she wants to do the program again and I will look at the brochures but I’m pretty sure they didn’t spell out such draconian supervision requirements on these kids.The focus was more on what should they bring (lots and lots of clean socks and healthy snacks) vs.who needed to watch them. The college was located somewhat remote and not near any town so perhaps that was an issue but my daughter definitely had freedom to go outside of the dorms freely. They did it often. To play more soccer!

  117. BL January 16, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    “drove from Pickering to Sault Ste. Marie”

    That’s only 700 miles! Couldn’t you walk?


  118. Warren January 16, 2016 at 9:50 am #


    Speaking of cellphones, I didn’t even call anyone to tell them I arrived in Sudbury the first night. It was late at night and wasn’t going to wake up the house. My dad always said that if something went wrong, someone would call. If something went so horribly wrong that we couldn’t call, then it was so bad that basically no one at home could help anyway.

    The only rules we had at the tournaments were to be an hour early for our games, and to wear our team jackets and shirt and tie. Other than that, we were on our own. Come to think of it most of our free time was spent eating, and finding place to eat. Being teens and athletes we tended to frequent All You Can Eat Buffets, go figure.

    Trips to the trailer never included checking in, with home.

    Yeah, that was back in the day when I could drive anywhere only stopping for fuel and coffee. When I was 19, I did a non stop from Pickering to Banff. It was a family vacation, and my parents and brother flew to Calgary where I picked them up. My dad had talked about his cross country trips all the time, and I wanted the experience. It was fantastic. The drive out of Ontario was probably my favorite part. You have never seen dark until you get that far north, out in the middle of nowhere.

  119. Warren January 17, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    Just dawned on me, you posted that distance in miles. Slight correction, it is 700 KM. Just about 435 miles. In that neck of the woods, in winter, about 11 hours total driving. LOL, less if the guys with me didn’t have to stop so much to use the facilities. Bloody city boys, had to have a bathroom, couldn’t just run into the bushes.

  120. Puzzled January 18, 2016 at 9:46 am #

    Hmm, a lot of comments about academic performance and about the students choosing to spend their summer this way. Sometimes, superior academic performance reflects responsible choices, and sometimes it reflects complete parental control. Similarly, some students choose to spend their summers doing this sort of activity, and others are told by their parents that this is what they will do. So this program seems to be catering to those who have high grades after many years of helicoptering and/or those whose parents told them they will go to this program.

  121. Emily January 19, 2016 at 12:58 am #

    Puzzled, that’s a really good point about some kids getting good grades because their parents force them to study, and micromanage their homework, and enroll them in educational activities against their will, but I have to say, sometimes it doesn’t work. I was bad at math when I was in high school (I took math from grades nine through eleven), and my parents tried to help me. They got me a tutor starting in grade ten, but I only saw her once a week, and I had homework pretty much every day, so my parents had to help me themselves on non-tutoring days. Despite their (and my, and my tutor’s) efforts, I was still bad at math. I still failed tests, despite having support, and despite getting to write my tests in the special ed room with extra time, because I just didn’t have the aptitude for advanced math. Grade nine was just the one stream, and I wasn’t horrible at that (I got around a C, I think), but starting in grade ten, my parents made me take the advanced stream (as opposed to basic or general), because they thought I’d need math for university. I wasn’t a bad student; I was good at music, drama, English, and French, fairly good at Latin, and decent at history and sociology classes. I even did all right in science in grade nine and ten–I just struggled in math. I actually wanted to switch to general math (i.e., the middle level instead of the top level), and I think I would have probably been more successful in that without all the supports in place that I needed in advanced math. But, my point is, even though my parents forced me to take math classes that were beyond my ability level, and even though we had SO many fights over math those years (especially with me and my dad, because he didn’t understand what it was like not to understand the math), they couldn’t force me to be good at math, because it’s impossible to force someone to be good at something, or successful at something, when they simply can’t do it.

  122. JP Merzetti January 20, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    ah………….at the age of 16, I was living on my own and acting basically, as an adult….and blah blah blah……..

    But that’s not the real story.
    The real story is that (sort of unbeknownst to me at the time) I had been given, implanted with, instructed, and more or less prepared for just such an adventure…..
    probably starting at about the age of 4.
    I kid you not.
    That was 12 blissful years of prep time.
    No time like the present, kid.
    Sink or swim.
    Was it boot camp? Child abuse? Criminal negligence?
    It was a normal childhood.
    Gawd knows where that went.

    Sometimes I just have to laugh, when I consider the hard and tough lives that two thirds of the population of this planet actually live.
    They haven’t got the time, the money or any of the other resources that it takes to psychologically and emotionally melt down into infantilized attitudes about human interaction.
    Kids are just adults in training, and in many of those places they do grow up to handle the harshness in amazing ways.
    But of course, the War on Everything is going to include younger and younger collateral damage. This is just more of the same.

  123. Emily January 21, 2016 at 8:43 am #

    @JP Merzetti–Of course it’s not “child abuse” to raise kids the way you describe your childhood; with freedoms and responsibilities that increase with age. I think, if anything, it’s “child abuse” to micromanage, and protect and shelter kids from everything until the day they get dropped off at college or university, or move into their own apartments, and then expect them to “sink or swim,” as you said. Of course, now there’s a trend towards parents continuing to helicopter their kids while they’re in college or university, but good schools refuse to be a part of this.