Kid Sent Packing for Candy Bar at Camp

Readers — Just a errfiztbhd
little bit of infuriation
 (is that a word?) to leave you with till I compose an actual post. Read it and grrrrr. Yes, yes, the kid was not supposed to bring candy to camp. But the administrators weren’t supposed to OPEN HER SEALED LETTER to READ about the candy either. It’s like the NSA at Camp Sweets-B-Gone.- L

Got contraband?

133 Responses to Kid Sent Packing for Candy Bar at Camp

  1. ShortWoman July 26, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    Is there a chance that the rule was in place to avoid attracting pests such as bugs, vermin, or even bears? I ask because many camps are in the freaking WOODS. This would make following the rules a matter of safety for all rather than a petty infraction.

  2. KiwiJeff July 26, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    Note to ShortWoman:
    Bears? Isle of Wight? Really?
    Let’s Wikipedia that, shall we?!

  3. Kimberly July 26, 2013 at 12:38 am #

    I’m going to own up – I was prepared to be in the camps side when I read your post.

    I assumed it was something sent to a camp. At the sleep away camps sis and I attended – unsecured food in the cabins/tents could lead to unwanted wild visitors.

    This was just stupid. It was chocolate in a hotel room – do they regulate every bite of food and drink of water on these trips.

    I teach 2nd grade – I don’t regulate what my kids bring to eat at lunch or on a field trip.

    I had an idiot of a chaperon threaten to send me home from a trip from Texas to Scotland for ordering a Ginger Beer. Growing up I loved Amazon and Swallows. They were always drinking Ginger Beer and I wanted to taste it. The chaperons would not believe it was a soft drink – even though locals on the train backed me up. Thankfully our Principal and our sponsor had more sense.

  4. SKL July 26, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    I think the person who sent the girl home needs a psychiatric eval.

    They should have had some intermediate punishments short of kicking kids out for stupid stuff like that.

    I could see them being concerned about rules and safety if there was something very unsafe or naughty about how she got the candy. For example, if she stole it, snuck out in the middle of the night to go someplace iffy to buy it, rowed a boat alone to the snack store or whatever. (Never been there, I have no idea what the concerns might be.) But even then, they could have given her some unpleasant chores for a day or something. Making her mom come and pick her up over chocolate was crazy.

  5. Peter July 26, 2013 at 1:58 am #

    […] if Holli was not picked up she would have to attend all the planned activities but would not be allowed to join in any of them.

    So, let me get this straight. If she’s not picked up, she’ll be taken to all the planned activities where she’ll stand around and do nothing. Of course, someone will have to stay with her because it’s not like you can actually leave a child alone while the other kids go off and do something. She’d’ve still been able to at least see stuff and hang with her friends at night. Heck, she might have been able to get a few of the kids on her side and organize a protest or something.

    Personally, if I’d’ve been the Mom, I’d’ve said, “Works for me. Call me when she gets home.”

  6. Marion July 26, 2013 at 4:27 am #


    There might be all kinds of reasons why this trip was declared ‘sweets free’. Maybe because there are obese children in the group that are fighting their addiction and it’s a show of solidarity not to eat sweets in front of their face. Maybe because some of the children will have more sweets from their parents than others and that will hardly be fair (it always annoyed me when I was on school trips – forty years ago, my god, I’m getting old! – that there were always certain, more priviliged kids, that got bags and bags of sweets from home while my dear mom would pack me a sandwich lunch and an apple. I was always felt vindicated when those ‘rich kids’ would inevitably throw up at the end of the day). Maybe that rule is in place because sugar is poison and highly addictive. Or maybe it’s just Because. I don’t care. It’s a rule on this trip, so the kid should’ve obeyed that rule.


    1) Reading sealed mail is an absolute no-no. Bad teachers! Bad school!

    2) Their reaction was totally over the top. A firm reprimand would’ve been enough. Only when the children would openly defy the rules set to them should the staff discipline. Openly, that is. As in ‘in their face’. Which the kid hadn’t. It had secretly enjoyed a 20p snack.

    As I’m typing this, I longingly remember those wonderful boardingschool stories by Enid Blyton. Anyone remember those? The Malory Towers series, for instance. One of the set happenings were the ‘Midnight Feasts’; the girls would aquire, sneak in or recieve (in food parcels from home) all kinds of goodies and candies and would organise an illicit feast in the middle of the night. Inevitably the staff would know about it, but they would just smile and turn a blind eye. They knew that every child needed to exercise their ‘naughty bones’ now and then, they knew ‘their girls’ and also knew that they would not abuse the privilige.

    As a child I dreamed of going to Malory Towers. Frienship! Hard work! Responsible adults! Midnight Feasts! And what do the children dream of now? Trips to the Isle of Wight? Adults who read your mail and rip up your luggage in search of Kit Kats?

  7. Lola July 26, 2013 at 4:41 am #

    So what’s the use of leaving your child with responsible adults, if they’re not able to reinforce the rules themselves?? They should warn parents before signing their kids up: “only robots allowed; we don’t know how to deal with disobedience, so if your children have ideas of their own, please come pick them up and discipline them yourselves”.
    It’s no surprise that if they consider kids to be some sort of automats, there will be no respect for their personal belogings, intimacy or personal development…

  8. Josie July 26, 2013 at 5:35 am #

    It may be worth looking into this story a wee bit more… It would appear that the chocolate was the straw that broke the camel’s back…

  9. Natalie July 26, 2013 at 6:55 am #


    Isn’t reading other people’s mail illegal?

  10. Richard July 26, 2013 at 7:48 am #

    I hate to say it but I’m tentatively with the camp here. The parents signed a document saying that bringing chocolate would result in expulsion. No idea why they had that but they did. Kid beings chocolate. Kid gets expelled. Somewhat like moving into an HOA and complaining about the rules being enforced.

    More information would help. The fact that such strict rules existed in the first place makes me wonder if this wasn’t a “normal” summer camp as we generally think of them – but that’s just idle speculation.

    If there’s a rule against something – and it’s important enough to be called out in a code that you’re asked to sign before paying – then either follow it or send your kid somewhere else. It’s obvious that the parent knew of the rule, the punishment, and the fact that her kid was going to break it (it was “her job”) to bring the chocolate. So… less than sympathetic here.

    As for the mail being read, again I’d like to know more about what’s behind such a strict summer camp before passing judgement. If it was spelled out in the contract because this is a camp for reforming troubled youth or something that’s different than if the staffers just took it upon themselves to do so.

  11. Donna July 26, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    According to other parents, the no-chocolate rule was actually a no-outside-food-of-any-kind rule and it was set down by the hotel that they were staying in. And the kids had been told in no uncertain terms before they left for the trip that ANY food in the rooms would result expulsion because the hotel strictly forbade it and would not allow them to return if outside food was an issue (which makes me think that this hotel has had serious problems in the past with food in rooms from this school or other similar groups).

    There is also some indication that this child is a real behavior problem and that there were other issues on this trip, specifically horrible behavior on a beach visit. And that the mail was read because it was part of the assigned school work.

    If those allegations are true, I have no problem with expelling the kid. I see no justification regardless for cutting the lining of her suitcase and dumping her things around the room. She may be a total brat but the adults don’t get to be brats in return.

  12. NS July 26, 2013 at 10:07 am #


    That presumes that the school recognizes children as people. This is clearly not supported by the facts.

  13. Warren July 26, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    The only reason a hotel, motel, inn, B&B, or any other rental accomodation sets an outside food policy, is money. If you purchase it from the corner store, the hotel cannot make the high markup they have on their items. Same as movie theatres and the like.

    The behaviour on the beach…………..if it was that bad, why was she not sent home then. The beach is an excuse for the school to lessen the public’s outrage.

    I am not sure how the laws work over there, but in Ontario, I would have showed up, with the OPP, and had the person or persons arrested for opening sealed mail, the room search, the destruction of the luggage, and anything else the cops could think of.

    And the person or persons should be thankful the police were there.

  14. lollipoplover July 26, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    How can they read personal letters sent to parents?
    What a horrible invasion of privacy- is this Camp Gestapo?

    Searching her luggage like these candy bars were made of crack cocaine is probably the most moronic thing I’ve heard. Too bad this kid didn’t stay in a hotel in Hershey, Pa where they turn down your bed and put some Hershey kisses on your pillow each night.

  15. Gary July 26, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Typical that this happened in the UK, we would never allow something like this to happen to our children here in ‘murica.

    wait, crap…

  16. Gary July 26, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    “Is there a chance that the rule was in place to avoid attracting pests such as bugs, vermin, or even bears? I ask because many camps are in the freaking WOODS. This would make following the rules a matter of safety for all rather than a petty infraction.”

    what are the odds what you are short on is intelligence and common sense as opposed to height.

    “They immediately searched her room at Beaufort House hotel…”

    you wouldn’t know a black bear from a Chicago Bear.


  17. Kimberly July 26, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    If the group was warned and the parents signed a waver, then she should go home. It’s called setting rules and sticking to them. I am personally glad that someone, somewhere is actually enforcing rules with no exception. People (especially parents) are always being wimps about that, and it results in a nation of spoiled and entitled kids. There is always that one kid/family who thinks they are special and above the rules. Always.

  18. Laura July 26, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    I’m with the school on this one, too. They had a rule. Everyone agreed to follow the rule or face the consequences. This kid broke the rule, knowing what those consequences would be. If I were the mom, I would be ticked off, for sure — with my daughter. If there was an objection to the rules and the consequences for breaking those rules, it should have been addressed before the trip.

  19. Natalie July 26, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    So there’s this phenomenon apparently of parents smuggling candy to their kids at camp. Camp as in woods, nature, the whole shebang, not hotels. They buy books and carve out the inside to put candy in, they take deodorant apart and put it back together with candy inside, and they even go so far as to put twizzlers inside empty tampons.

    So when people talk about smuggling, they’re not exaggerating. The article is called “the care package wars” by Bruce feiler. It gave me a few “wow” moments. Sorry I can’t link it, but if you do a search for that title and author, it should come up.

  20. Lorrie July 26, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    While I disagree with the reading of the sealed letter (unless of course this was agreed to in the official rules that were agreed to and signed), it is absolutely imperative that kids don’t bring stuff like this on these kind of trips. It is a matter of safety. If my daughter had been with this girl and her friends while they were eating the contraband chocolates and presumably paying no attention to where crumbs fell, what they touched, washing hands, etc, then my daughter could have died.

    It isn’t just about the bugs and pests. It is a safety issue for the children who have food allergies.

  21. Donna July 26, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    “The only reason a hotel, motel, inn, B&B, or any other rental accomodation sets an outside food policy, is money.”

    There is no indication whatsoever that this hotel actually has a mini-bar or otherwise sells candy so where is the money issue?

    My guess is that the policy only extends to large school groups of children as I’ve never heard of a hotel banning food to regular guests and is a result of messes being left by this specific school (apparently they go here every year) in the past or other similar groups.

    Nor does the reason matter. The school doesn’t get to set the rules for the hotel. If the school was really told that absolutely no outside food is allowed and any infractions will result in the school being unable to use this facility again in the future, then the school has every right to be extremely pissed at this girl. She may have stopped the trip for all subsequent 6 year classes, or at least made life more difficult for people other than herself as they now need a new plan.

    If it were my child who did this (and this is truly a strict hotel condition as described), I would have happily driven up there and brought her home. She deserved to go home.

    “The behaviour on the beach…………..if it was that bad, why was she not sent home then.”

    Because you rarely give someone life in prison for their first crime, but there does come a time for some when criminal history leaves you no other option. The candy could simply have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in a long list of less than stellar school trip behavior. At some point, you do get to say “you are making it too unpleasant for everyone else and you just need to leave” due to aggregate bad behavior, even though no one single action taken alone would have gotten you there.

    The allegations came from another parent in the school, not the school itself. I don’t know whether they are true or not. If they are, I stand by my opinion that sending her home was an acceptable decision (but trashing her stuff was not). If they are not, then this seems a bit harsh for possession of candy.

  22. Daven July 26, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    I dunno … if I’d saved for six months to send my child to camp, and my child and I both knew that the campers were not supposed to pack chocolate, and then I learned that my child had planned a whole sweets party with her friends and that my child was “in charge of the bringing the chocolate” — well, I’d be more than a little disappointed in my child. (And if I’d known all about this party, which the mom says the girls had planned “weeks before the trip,” and had even helped to pack the chocolate, then I’d have nobody to blame for it but myself!)

    “They were not being naughty,” the mum says. What is it called, then, when you knowingly break the rules? When you plan in advance to break the rules? And after your mother has saved up for six months to pay for this adventure for you?

    Personally, I think the camp overreacted (although of course I don’t know the whole story). I’ve been a camp counselor (in woods, not in a hotel), where the policy was no electronics. A camper had a walkman, I took it from her and told her that she knew the policy and that I’d return her walkman on the last day of camp before she went home, and she said she was sorry, and that was the end of that little incident. It was no big deal.

    Then again, I didn’t find out about it by reading the camper’s mail, and I didn’t then search the camper’s bags for more contraband, so there’s that.

    Still, the mum seems to be more upset about the fact that her daughter got caught and had a consequence than about the fact that her daughter (and friends) (and maybe mothers) planned even before the trip to break the rules, and then broke them.

    And it seems the mom didn’t actually *have* to borrow money to go right away and fetch her daughter, driving through the night with the ferry crossings and all; she could have let her stay there. Daughter might not have been able to participate in the activities (or eat any more chocolate), but she’d still have the pleasure of her best friends’ company between activities and after hours.

  23. Daven July 26, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Part of being “free range,” I think, is refraining from shielding our kids too much from the consequences of their own actions.

  24. SKL July 26, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Well I know there is always more to the story, but I’m surprised at how many FRK folks believe it was OK to apply zero tolerance to a chocolate violation. Since when is “all or nothing” ever appropriate when it comes to raising / disciplining children? Sending her home punished her mother far more than her. It was stupid for camp organizers to set up the discipline policy this way, knowing that “expulsion” would be such a burden on families. No way am I saying that rule-breaking should not be punished. It should. But who ever heard of expulsion being the only punishment option? It sounds crazy to me.

    The fact that the mom signed the paper with the fine print is not convincing to me. Normally those papers are just a CYA in case something really bad happens. Usually you read those as “up to and including expulsion” or whatever.

    Now if this really was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and she had committed a string of exasperating offenses before this one, then obviously whatever I said is void.

  25. SKL July 26, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Oh, and I thought the mom did NOT know about the chocolate until she got the call from the camp. Did I read that wrong?

  26. SKL July 26, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    About the alleged hotel policy – I call BS. I just don’t believe people are not allowed to bring a candy bar to eat in a hotel room. I always bring food because I may not find anything worth buying when I travel, or I might miss the time cutoff for ordering food until the next day. What about people who are on diets or have medical needs, such as diabetics who need to keep candy bars on hand? I mean, I could see them asking the camp not to bring its own food, but not at the individual candy bar level. Please.

  27. Warren July 26, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    I have never run into such a group of prude and preachers.

    Ladies and Gentlemen get off your high horse, come back down to a more oxygenated atmosphere, please.

    1. to the lady preaching sugar is sin. So is being that incredibly stupid, so do not throw stones, in your glass house.
    2. to the moms of kids with food allergies…….sucks to be you, teach your kid to take precautions, and stop expecting the rest of the world to take care of your little darlings. Their allergy, their responsibility.
    3. we are talking about kids sneaking a sweet treat, I don’t give a damn if it’s chocolate, candy, or sucking on raw sugar cane. Personally I would be disappointed if under these nazi rules, if kids didn’t sneak something in.
    4. convicts in our federal prisons have more rights than these kids by the sounds of it.
    5. back in our school days short of criminal activity, no one would be sent home from an out of town school trip. And no parent would drive all night to pick them up. Parents would be called, maybe, most likely just informed upon return.

    Everyone supporting the school on this one, just supported a zero tolerance rule…………way to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Angela July 26, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    As rediculous as I think the rule is, they were informed of it beforehand, were made aware of the consequences and signed on the dotted line.

    Last summer my daughter went on a trip to New York with her high school choir. I was expected to attend two different meetings where the rules, policies and expectations were discussed and we both had to sign an agreement in order for my daughter to go. Now, I thought several of the rules were over-the-top (although, not to this extent), but my daughter wanted to go so badly she agreed to put off Driver’s Ed for it. (I couldn’t afford both)

    I laughed at some of the rules, told her I thought they were a little overboard, then told her that if she broke the rules, got kicked out and it cost me anything to get her back, SHE would be reimbursing me the money. She agreed to the rules in exchange for the opportulity, she is responsible for following them.

  29. Daven July 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    My son takes classes at a facility that specifically does not allow chocolate or red-tinted beverages (red pop, Kool-aid) because when those things stain the carpeting, they are harder to clean up than other things. Other foods and beverages are allowed.

    Maybe it’s a stupid rule, sure. Tell that to the management. But it’s the rule. Stupid rules exist in life. If we disagree with them, we can say so and encourage people to change them, or we can simply decide that our participation in this voluntary project, which we are paying for, is not worth it. (If my son really, really needs to eat chocolate and drink red pop during his classes, then maybe we just shouldn’t take classes at this facility.) But if we do agree to follow the rules, even if we think they are stupid, then we have to accept any consequences we might incur for breaking them.

    Eleven years old is not too young to learn this.

  30. SKL July 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    When I was in 6th grade, we went for an overnight trip and stayed in hotel rooms without adults. We were told not to do abcdefg. Not to make noise, make mess, and act like animals, leave the room, etc. We all agreed and we really meant it at the time.

    So what we ended up doing was staying up late, jumping on the beds while laughing hilariously and singing at the top of our lungs, sneaking out in the night to go get ice and buy pop, and probably a few other things that have faded in my memory.

    Nobody’s parent got a call, and nobody was sent home.

    This was a strict Christian school.

    Where has the adult imagination gone?

  31. Gary July 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    I am laughing my ass off at the “signed an agreement” supporters…

    How many of you read every single line of anything you have ever “signed an agreement” for? How many of you have ever read every line each and every time your iTunes, Adobe Reader or any other computer software updates or is installed as opposed to scrolling allllllll the way down to the bottom and simply clicking the “I Accept” button.

    More importantly how many of you actually obeyed or followed what was in those terms.

    They are kids, it is friggin candy.

    Gotta love it.

  32. Papilio July 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    I’m with SKL: you need some rules, breaking rules should have consequences, but rules and consequences should be reasonable and realistic. Sending kids home is a last resort, and forbidding 11yos to bring candy on a camp is just stupid.
    I remember my brother’s stories about camp in 10th grade, where it was kind of a public secret they were smuggling beer in (most kids would have been 16 by then, so it wasn’t illegal). So the teachers kind of knew, they may have suspected something, but they never caught the kids with beer, so they just let it go. The rule did ensure the kids didn’t let it get out of hand. It was just a part of the whole camp experience.
    So, same for Holli: no harm was done, they hadn’t made a mess, and the teachers wouldn’t even have known about it until they went Gestapo on her.

  33. Daven July 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    1. I think the camp overreacted.

    2. However, if I’d saved for six months to pay for my child’s trip, you BET I would read the fine print and make sure my child understood those rules, too!

    3. That’s 50 points from Gryffindor, and you all have to serve detention too. And no whining to the Daily Prophet! 😉

  34. Donna July 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    @SKL – The mother doesn’t specifically say whether she knew or not before hand. I believe she knew. First, if mom didn’t already know, why the heck was child telling her in a letter from camp? What kid rats herself out for no reason like that? She managed to keep it all quiet for weeks before and just can’t contain herself any more on the first night of camp?

    Second, the mom’s statement about her daughter being so excited and planning this feast o’chocolate for weeks in advance definitely makes it sound as though the mother knew about the plan.

    Third, the child allegedly had approximately £30 worth of chocolate outside of what they had already eaten. I find it hard to believe that an 11 year old child could manage to acquire the equivalent of more than $46 in chocolate in a couple weeks WITHOUT a parent playing some role. Maybe this kid has a job and her own money that she controls but that seems like an extreme amount of money to spend on candy at that age without help.

  35. Donna July 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    SKL – As I said, I would be terribly surprised if the hotel banned food for everyone. Large groups of school children are often not treated exactly the same as a family on vacation.

    That doesn’t mean that the comment was true. It just doesn’t set off my BS meter.

  36. Donna July 26, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    @Gary – Wow. Are you really arguing that because people don’t read the fine print, there can be no penalty for violating the fine print? Too funny.

  37. Natalie July 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    All this talk about fine print reminds me of the insurance post a few days back. And the parents not understanding how theyir insurance worked until their daughter fell.

    That’s just the nature of agreements. It’s a pain yes, but ultimately, you’re signing that you have read, understood and agreed to whatever terms. So if you sign without reading… it’s your fault.

    I had an incident with my daughter’s daycare. I brought her in after giving her antibiotics for the first time the previous evening. They sent her right home with me even though there were no symptoms, no fever, nothing contagious, just pulling on her ear. The policy is that they need to be on antibiotics for 24 hours before coming back. A policy which I sign and agree to every year, no matter how silly I think it is.

    My fault for only skimming the agreement.

    And that’s when I learned to never tell them if/when I’m taking her to the doctor to see if she has an ear infection. 😉

  38. Natalie July 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    That being said, from the way the story is framed, it seems like expulsion is an extreme punishment.

  39. Katie July 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    UK is very nice and in some ways more free range than the US, but they seem to have an obsession with helicopter parenting over food. I saw a piece on the BBC saying that they are thinking of banning packed lunches at school because …the horror… a child might pack something slightly unhealthy.

  40. Natalie July 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Is cafeteria food in the UK healthy? Here, I’d prefer to provide a packed lunch a few times a week as a counterbalance. We don’t have that much processed food at home.

  41. Katie July 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    PS When I was a camper, I remember at least one of the camps I went to had a canteen that sold junk food and another one had junk food (at least compared to what my parents let me eat) at the buffet style meals. I really enjoyed it and don’t regret one bit enjoying it.

    Why must all these helicopter parents and administrators suck the fun out of life?

  42. SKL July 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    The thing about the fine print is, OK, even if you read it and actually intended to follow the rules (or for your kid to follow the rules), you have to use common sense. An 11yo kid is not going to do exactly what she’s supposed to do all the time. I don’t care how many times she signed a paper saying that she would.

    If you’re running a camp full of 11yos, you’re an idiot if you think all the kids are going to follow all the “agreed-upon” rules all the time. Especially if the rules involve such micromanagement as whether a kid is allowed to eat a candy bar in her hotel room.

    The people in charge of the camp were incompetent if their whole concept of discipline is “expel anyone caught violating the rules.” I think the mom should get her money back – again, unless there is “more to the story.”

  43. Snow July 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    When I went to camp in 1984 when I was 13 years old we snuck out at night to smoke cigarettes and drink beer. It was a Catholic camp. Nobody was sent home.

  44. WendyW July 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    The daughter was not expelled. The intended punishment was that she would stay under the direct control of the teachers instead of participating fully in the activities. I’d bet that if she behaved herself under those circumstances, she would have been given a pardon well before the end of the trip simply because being a prison warden would be a pain for the teacher. The MOM chose to drive all night and incur the additional expense to protect her precious darling from the consequences of her own actions. I refuse to pass judgement re: the letter-reading and suitcase-search since we only have one side of that accusation.

  45. Warren July 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    What article are you reading? The one linked here says the head the school called and requested the mom to come and collect her immediately. If she wasn’t collected, then she would just be prohibited from participation.
    Are you the PR for the school or hotel?

  46. Natalie July 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Agreed. My fine print post was directed towards the mom, as it appears she supplied the candy.

  47. Steve S July 26, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Yes, it seems to be a stupid rule, but it is private property. One of the benefits to owning property is that you can set your own rules (within the law) and the free market will likely weed out people that are too restrictive.

    As for the fine print, I do read it. If I didn’t, then I can hardly complain if I suffer the consequences of breaking something that I contracted.

    If I knew that my kid would be sent home for breaking a seemingly silly infraction, then I could:

    1. Not send them.
    2. If I send them, then explain the consequences of violating the silly rule.

  48. Katie July 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    @Natalie To clarify I don’t live in the UK, but I watch the BBC because the quality of the news is much higher and you actually get informative news about the world that isn’t full of the “be afriad” stuff that fills US news. I also like to travel to London. Given that I don’t know the answer to your question, sorry.

  49. David July 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    From what I can gather, the two sides here are telling completely different stories.

    Having worked in UK schools for more than a decade my instincts are to believe the child. In any conflict between a teacher and a child, nine times out of ten it’s the teacher in the wrong in my experience.

  50. Marion July 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    Hmm.. It’s interesting what will come up if you google for this story in other (more local) newspapers.. In this one ( there are comments by parents of other children on that school trip. Some quotes:

    “My child was on this trip. Lets put it this way, it was no loss to the class. Taxi for Holli!”

    “My child was also on this trip and believe me, if anyone was going to ‘push the boundaries’ it was going to be Holli. From all the years my child has been in the same classes as her I can assure you she is far from the wronged angel she appears in this photo. I’m really surprised the Watford Observer printed this story.”

    “…she was brought to my attention at the age of 8 for her foul language in the recreation park. Also for threatening other children and calling her older brother to deal with them when she was challenged back.”

    “I have had experience of Holli and her mother through our 6 years at Bromet so we know exactly what we’re talking about. I too was scared to voice an opinion due to the fear of a violent backlash from Holli’s mother – believe me, it has already happened in full view of other parents and children. I can assure you I don’t work at Bromet and am not on the PTA or a Governor – my views are based on the facts of what I have witnessed over the years.”

    “My child has spent 6 years in the same class as Holli and my goodness, there have been so many issues. As I previously mentioned but everyone has chosen to ignore, I witnessed first hand mum beating up another mother just outside Bromet – even though the other mother had a baby with her. This is probably why no-one has reported the case – they are too scared. Yes, the charter may well have been drawn up because of the behaviour of Holli McCann – it’s happening in a lot of schools because each has a ‘Holli McCann’ – a child who will never behave in a decent manner because her family don’t encourage her to. And yet there are no penalties for such parents and absolutely nothing the school can do. The future scares me – it looks like it will be natural selection – survival of the bolshiest.”

  51. Marion July 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Then again, there were several parents of (ex) students who stated that the headmistress was a ‘rude, unproffessional’ woman, so the truth is still out there.

    One thing is for sure, you should never assume you know what that truth is by one little sensational piece in the DailyTelegraph. Lol.

  52. Jim P. July 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    “Maybe that rule is in place because sugar is poison and highly addictive – ”

    Umm, no. The human body *runs* on sugar in the form of glucose. It’s pretty much what fuels you cells and is the power source for most major things going on in your body.

    Table sugar is sucrose, a double sugar that breaks down into glucose and fructose. Many carbohydrates are complex sugars that also break down into various simpler forms.

    No glucose, you die, ask any diabetic or scientifically trained nutritionist.

  53. Jim P. July 26, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    “About the alleged hotel policy – I call BS. I just don’t believe people are not allowed to bring a candy bar to eat in a hotel room. – ”

    Many if not most hotels have a policy banning “outside food and drink” so they can sell you their own overpriced stuff. It is enforced about as often as you’d expect as the hotel is rarely dumb enough to decide it’s worth losing a paying customer over a candy bar.

    The type of person that worries about stuff like this is called a “Jobsworth’ by the Brits “Oh I’d like to help but that is more than my job’s worth if I break the rules for you.”

    They can generally be safely ignored

  54. Emily July 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Oh, by the way, I read the comments on the original article. Apparently, Holli’s “misbehaving on the beach” consisted of putting her head underwater. The teachers took the kids to the beach, and allowed them to wade, but not actually swim, because it was “dangerous.” Jaw, meet floor.

  55. Lisa July 26, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    I was prepared to be outraged but found myself siding with the school. If the mom didn’t agree with the chocolate rule then she should’ve said something BEFORE they left.

    The thing is, whoever is organizing the trip can come up with whatever rules they want and the participants have the choice not to go if they feel it is outrageously restrictive. My daughter goes to a summer program that seems strict to me, but she chooses to go and I expect her to play by their rules when she’s there. Kudos to the school for following through with the consequences they communicated beforehand instead of giving in to a squeaky wheel parent.

    To me, free-range parenting is allowing our kids to choose to be involved in things that may not match our own wants and desires. This girl took a chance and got caught …

  56. Warren July 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm #


    Never trust a comment section for any facts. I would be more inclined to think the comments by mothers are that of snobs who do not like having the child of an unemployed single mom in their school. And kids will rant about even the fairest of administrators.

    It sounds like the students from this school are expected to be seen, not heard, and speak only when spoken to.

    Just when did it become normal to have to sign a contract of behaviour for a class trip. These are kids, not some celeb being paid millions to endorse a product.

    And Jim thanks for seconding the hotel food ruling.

  57. Lisa July 26, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    “Just when did it become normal to have to sign a contract of behaviour for a class trip.”

    Every trip my daughter has been on has had a behavior contract.

  58. Gary July 26, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    “Wow. Are you really arguing that because people don’t read the fine print, there can be no penalty for violating the fine print? Too funny.”

    What’s too funny is you missed the point…

  59. Jenny July 26, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I reluctantly side with the school on this one too. It would be great if all kids were capable of being free-range, but the truth is that there are many out there who lack the basic skill set – responsible, respectful, impulse control, etc. Unfortunately that means making rules that cover those with behavior issues and penalizing those who behave.

    School trips are generally more restrictive than personal trips – just like business trips are more restrictive for grown-ups. They were told what the rules were upfront so I don’t see where the infuriating part is?

  60. SKL July 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Am I really the only person who thinks that (a) yes, she knowingly broke a rule, (b) yes, she should be punished, and (c) that still does not mean she should have been sent back home?

    Or am I weird to think that making a mom drive for a day to retrieve a chocolate smuggler is extreme?

    Or maybe this mom is just coming from a completely different culture from the rest of the school, and there is no tolerance for her different-ness. It’s sad. Obviously her kid is not the only kid in the group who ever broke a rule. There is no kid who hasn’t. Most of the time there is grace.

  61. David July 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    I went on a similar trip to the Isle of Wight at age 11. Although it was officially against the rules to have ‘midnight feasts’ in our hostel room we all did it. The teachers knew what was going on of course, but tacitly made it clear they would turn a blind eye as long as we cleared up after ourselves. But that was decades ago, when UK schools were generally much less authoritarian

  62. SKL July 26, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    By the way – did they send the other kids in her group home too? After all this was a conspiracy.

  63. Jenny July 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    The other article said that they mom chose to go get her – the other option was for the daughter to stand with the chaperones and not participate in the activities for the rest of the trip.

  64. Meagan July 26, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Right there with you SKL.

    To those defending the school… This is no different from suspending a student for bringing a pocket knife to school. Yes, the kid may have broken a rule, maybe even knowingly, but zero tolerance rules are idiotic, and the consequence isn’t reasonable just because it was defined ahead of time.

  65. Jenny July 26, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    I think it was a great life lesson. If you agree to follow the rules then you have a responsibility to live up to your side of the agreement. If you don’t agree, then don’t sign the contract and don’t go on the trip.

    But its not ok to go on the trip and then blow off the rules just because you feel entitled. That’s like defendants on the judge shows that don’t feel they need to repay a loan because they had an argument with the plaintiff. Or they wrecked the car and don’t want to pay the car loan anymore.

  66. Lisamarie July 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    I can see both sides but am leaning towards the school. Most of us take risks and break rules on a regular basis. My daughter’s school has a no cell-phone rule but she takes one anyway because I want her to have it in case of emergency. I’m fully prepared to accept the consequences if she gets caught.

    This girl and mom knew the consequences and chose to break the rule anyway. That’s great and its too bad she got caught … but that’s the risk she took. I’m having a hard time with the mom trying to look like the victim in all of this. Seems like she’s just upset that she was inconvenienced and throwing the “single mom” thing out there for sympathy. I’m a single mom and I still make my kids deal with consequences even when its not convenient for me. I’m afraid the only thing this girl has learned is she can do whatever she wants and mom will rescue her.

  67. Warren July 26, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    Richard, Donna, Kimberly, Laura, Lorrie, Angela, Lisa and Jenny

    Thank you for clearing things up. Until now I couldn’t understand how moronic zero tolerance rules were passed. Now I know, at least 8 mindless drones willing to follow blindly the rules of the kingdom.

    Jenny, do you honestly believe a room of girls had chocolate because they felt entitled? They had a hotel room sleepover. Chocolate, gossip, and whatever. To think they did it to feel superior to their teachers is insane.

    As for these behaviour contracts………….they are laughable. One you cannot hold a parent responsible when they are 200 miles away, and two I highly doubt an 11 yr old can legally enter into a contract.

    None of my kids have ever had to sign one, and as parents we never had to.

    The way I see it, if the teachers are not willing to put up with the kids having fun, staying up late, eating junk food, getting a little crazy……….then the teachers shouldn’t go, the school shouldn’t have these trips. Nothing worse than taking kids out of town, away from mom and dad, put them in a hotel, and tell them not to have fun.

    LOL to the comment about school trips being like business trips, and not the same as personal trips. Seriously? You obviously don’t travel much on business do you. That is hilarious. More people do things on business trips that they wouldn’t do around their husband or wife on a personal trip, than you think.

  68. Lisamarie July 26, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    Wow Warren – it’s really hard to take your opinion seriously when you present it with condescension and name-calling.

    Try again?

  69. SKL July 26, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    Yeah, I remember the first time I went on a “training” business trip. My roommate, who was a mother, spent most of the trip getting drunk and sleeping with a married colleague from another city (they used to work together or something). When I expressed my shock to someone, I learned it was I who was weird for not expecting such things.

    It seems odd that we often expect more of children than we expect of adults.

  70. Emily July 26, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    I agree with Warren this time. It sounds like this wasn’t intended as an educational field trip during the school year, but rather, an end-of-the-year trip for the Year 6 students. Also, since Year 6 is the last year of primary school in the U.K., it must have also been a graduation trip. So, for something like that, I think a bit of leeway is in order–let the kids have a bit of chocolate in their hotel rooms, as long as they clean up after themselves, and let them actually swim when you take them to the beach, and don’t suck all the fun out of what should be a fun trip, by micromanaging every single aspect of it to the point that normal childhood exuberance becomes “misbehaviour” that somehow warrants being sent home. Also, zero tolerance has one fatal flaw–if you yank a kid out of a field trip over candy, then what’s the punishment if it was beer, or a pack of cigarettes? If you suspend or expel a student for a butter knife, or a Swiss Army knife, then what do you do to the teenager who brings a switchblade or a gun to school? Seriously, not all infractions are the same.

  71. Emily July 26, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    P.S., I meant that I agreed with Warren’s opinions on this article; not with the condescension and name-calling.

  72. SKL July 26, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    So I’m really curious. What was it about this case that makes so many of us open to the “zero tolerance” aspect of it?

    In most of the “no tolerance” outrages we discuss here, the rule had previously been expressed in writing, and for whatever reason, the violator didn’t take it seriously / forgot / didn’t read the small print / decided to defy the rule assuming they wouldn’t really get the stated punishment. In most cases, our sympathy is with the child. So why is this case different?

  73. Lisamarie July 27, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    For me, it seems different because this was a week-long trip away from home. It ups the behavior expectation for me because its not something they have to do, its a special activity that calls for the group working together.

    I’ve led a few of these types of trips (nationally and internationally) and one kid defying the rules and doing their own thing can unravel the whole group. In the big scheme of things a chocolate bar isn’t that big of a deal, but breaking a rule that was specifically stated and agreed to ahead of time is. Usually the last night of the trip is the time for overlooking things, but if you do it towards the beginning of the trip the line keeps moving.

  74. Lisamarie July 27, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    From personal experience, I’ll bet you that the chocolate incident was just the tip of the iceberg. I’m not a rigid person, but have learned that you have to hold a firm line with some people because they always want special treatment and its not fair to the rest of the group that is working together.

  75. Warren July 27, 2013 at 12:19 am #


    I am sorry you misunderstood my calling those 8, make that 9 now, mindless drones, as name calling. I am not calling anyone names. I am just calling a spade a spade, and a club a club. There is a difference between name calling and identifying peoples actions.

    If somone from the school had called my parents over something like this, they would have been told to grow up, and act like an adult. If my parents had found out that teachers opened my mail, and destroyed my luggage, they would have had the teacher/s responsible charged. I would do the same thing.

    That is not special treatment, it is not entitlement. It is reality and common sense. All of which seems lost on this school, you and the other 8 drones.

  76. Yvette July 27, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    I’m a former teacher who has chaperoned quite a few of these types trips and agree with Lisamarie. That’s not the time or place to start negotiating every infraction and sometimes it just needs to be zero tolerance. We always looked the other way on the last night too, so its not like we were complete fun-suckers.

    My guess is that there is a lot more to this story than was reported.

  77. Yvette July 27, 2013 at 12:30 am #

    @ Warren – it sounds like name-calling to me too.

    Have you ever been responsible for the safety and well-being of a large group of traveling students? If so, how did you handle behavior issues?

  78. Donna July 27, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    SKL –

    I don’t think this is a zero-tolerance rule. It is just a rule possibly a dumb rule, but just a rule nonetheless. Zero-tolerance is argued when everyone is treated the same regardless of the nature of the violation of the rule. When bringing a toy gun is treated the same as bringing a real gun. When accidentally bringing a knife is treated the same as intentionally bringing a knife. When bringing a knife to cut an orange is treated the same as bringing a knife to threaten a classmate. When a pop tart is considered a violation at all just because it is eaten into the shape of a banned item.

    Here, there is no dispute that this was a premediated, intentional violation of the rule. This is not a kid eating a pop tart into the shape of a gun and getting in trouble. She didn’t buy a candy bar because she was hungry while out and forget it in her pocket. She didn’t even spontaneously decide to break the rule on the fly and pick up a couple candy bars at the beach. She knew the rule, planned to violate it for WEEKS and acquired the equivalent of almost $50 of contraband to do so. In fact, it seems like violating the rule and having the feast was a big part of why she was so excited to go on this trip based on the mother’s comments. I have no qualms whatsoever with punishing her in some way for violating the rule.

    As for whether the punishment fits the crime, if the facts of the situation are what the mother described, I think the punishment was somewhat harsh, but I really am just having a hard time finding this particular case that sympathetic. The weeks of planning, the copious amounts of candy and the letter home bragging about it all just seem to me the acts of a girl who couldn’t possibly care less about rules so I’m not sure why I should be sympathetic that she got slammed by them. I’d be far far far far more sympathetic to a girl who had just sneaked a couple candy bars into her bag at the last minute.

    If the facts are as the other parents are saying, I have no sympathy at all and think the punishment fits the crime.

  79. Warren July 27, 2013 at 1:30 am #

    Not students but hockey teams, baseball teams, softball teams, swim teams and lifeguard teams.

    How did we deal with behaviour issues? With maturity, common sense and understanding. Not by making them sign a piece of useless paper, and then throwing them out for minor crap.

    If sending a kid home, or painting a scarlet letter on their head for the rest of the trip is the only way you know how to deal with any behaviour issue……….well then you should distance yourself from ever working with children, teens, adults or seniors.

    We caught smokers, booze sneakers, curfew duckers, awols, girlfriends, boyfriends…….you name it we caught it. And why were we able to catch it, because we had been there done that. And because we had been there done that, we didn’t jump on our high horse and get all self righteous. In the process of dealing with things, we also gained more respect from our players, teammates and the like. A person in charge that only runs and tells on the kid, making a capital case out of it will never have the kids respect.

    Contraband? Oh Im sorry, I didn’t know they smuggled in Cuban Cigars rolled on the thighs of island virgins. A chocolate bar is now contraband. I guess that makes Willy Wonka a pusher or dealer.
    Bragging about it? How is a letter to mom describing a night with her friends bragging about it?

    How old are your kids, because you really do not seem to have an understaning of teen and pre teen girls. I am not being insulting, just that some of this horrible behaviour is actually fairly normal for a group of girls, that age.
    And this is the worst form of zero tolerance, one punishment no matter what the offense.

  80. Warren July 27, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    We need to remember something. These hoodlums created such a disturbance that other hotel guests could not sleep, the cops had to be called in with tear gas and riot gear…………….oh wait no…………the only way anyone discovered anything was violating the child’s right to privacy, by opening her sealed correspondance with her mother. Well after the fact. So obviously actual behaviour, other than being in possession of highly dangerous contraband, behaviour does not seem to be an issue.

  81. Andy July 27, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    I’m with Warren this time. Especially with this:

    “If sending a kid home, or painting a scarlet letter on their head for the rest of the trip is the only way you know how to deal with any behaviour issue.well then you should distance yourself from ever working with children, teens, adults or seniors. ”

    Also, I’m perfectly ok with no chocolate rule. But, the punishment should be confiscating it, explaining why we have that rule and why it needs to be followed and then maybe some small in-camp punishment.

    As it, teaching the kid to follow the rule, not teaching him that if you broke one rule, you are hopeless case and nobody want to do with you anymore.

    I do not understand this “you broke a rule,no matter how minor, we are going to beat you as much as we can” attitude. It is irrational against adults and even more against children.

    Big punishments over small things kills trust between two groups of people (kid and adults in this case). Hey, who do you think kids will side with?

    She knew the rule before hand defense does not make much sense. They made the rule, just because they announced it before hand does not make it reasonable. We do not mandate 15 years in prison for trespassing. That would be inappropriate even if it would be known before hand.

  82. Warren July 27, 2013 at 5:31 am #

    When as coaches we travel with the teams, we are routinely over 4 hrs from our home town for the weekend. The odd time for the week depending on what tournament it is.

    15 and 16 yr old boys softball team, at a weekend tournament. 2 successful purchases of beer with fake ID, caught by us, a couple broken curfews caught, and a wannabe smoker busted.

    The beer was a group purchase with pretty much the whole team pitching in for it. Myself and the other coach talked about it, and came up with the following solution. We brought them all into our room, spoke to them about properly representing our town. We took six of the 24 beers and split them amongst the 12 players. Then made them pour the rest down the sink. As they sipped their half a beer each, we explained to them that although what they did was wrong, it was nothing we hadn’t tried ourselves.
    We also explained to them that had someone else caught them, us coaches could have been in some serious trouble.
    The next day our team capt. apologized on behalf of the team.

    Boys will be boys, girls will be girls, teens will be teens, kids will be kids, and the world needs to remember that, and stop trying to prevent life.

  83. Yvette July 27, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Wait a minute … you gave underage kids beer to drink under your watch?

  84. Warren July 27, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Yes we did. 1/2 a beer each at 15 and 16, is not going to hurt them. Most of them already shared a beer here and there with their dads.

    This was 16 yrs ago now. They were treated with respect, and not like criminals. We gained a great deal of respect from the boys, and never had a repeat occurance.

    And guess what, each dad was told upon our return, and out of 12 dads, all 12 thought it was handled well.
    So Yvette take your uptight attitude towards alcohol and don’t worry bout it.

    If we had simply pulled a storm trooper and confiscated it all, lectured them and sent them to their rooms, they would have learned nothing, hated us coaches, and spent the rest of the night cursing us. Our way turned out so much better. Lessons learned, respect given both ways, and no hard feelings. win win.

  85. Warren July 27, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Actually we didn’t give them any beer, we just didn’t confiscate all of it, if you want to be technical about it. LOL

  86. Warren July 27, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Alot of the people around here do not have a carefree attitude towards booze. What they/we have is a respect for it. We also know that kids who are told in absolutes that drinking is taboo, will sneak around, an without role models to follow tend to way over indulge when they become of age. The teens that get to share the odd beer or glass of wine with adults do not make a huge deal of being able to “finally” drink. Because it is nothing new to them.

    And if I was put in the same situation again with a team, I wouldn’t change a thing.

  87. SKL July 27, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Beer would be a different thing because it’s patently illegal (at least here), not just a broken school rule. However, even with beer there should not be “no tolerance,” but I would definitely have confiscated it to save my own butt.

    If your vote to send this girl home was because you believe this was one of many offenses that were just too much in the aggregate, then fine, I wish people would say that to be clear. I do understand that there are incorrigible children whom I wouldn’t want on a week-long school trip either. Maybe this girl was one of them.

    I’m also still not sure the mom knew about the chocolate beforehand. I thought the purpose of the letter was to inform the mom about it for the first time, but I could be wrong about that. I do think that makes a big difference. If an adult is overtly encouraging rulebreaking, that sends the wrong message even if the kids would have done the exact same thing in secret. It’s also harder to feel sympathy for the mom when she should have known her kid was breaking a rule and risking a punishment. But I don’t know that to be the case here.

    The secret midnight feast – chocolate or no chocolate – appears to be an age-old tradition, and as such should not be treated as harshly as mean/dangerous/destructive behavior. A little harmless rule-breaking on school trips is to be expected and planned for. Contract or no contract. Don’t try to tell me that none of those teachers did this sort of thing when they were young. Don’t try to tell me that you didn’t.

  88. Emily July 27, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    @Warren–I think your way of dealing with youthful indiscretion (buying beer underage) on that trip was spot-on. I’d probably have handled the chocolate thing the same way–I’d take the candy, and tell Holli and her friends that they can have it back at the end of the trip, in exchange for good behaviour throughout. After all, the candy is still the girls’ property, even if there’s a rule against outside food on the trip, for whatever reason–vermin, health reasons, jealousy, potential mess, or whatever. Then, after taking the candy, I’d probably just have them explain in writing why what she did was wrong. After that, once I was sure they understood, we’d be back to having fun. Maybe that sounds too lenient, but honestly, I probably wouldn’t have had a whole list of crazy rules in the first place. I wouldn’t have banned outside food unless there was a very good reason for it, and I wouldn’t have banned actually SWIMMING on a trip to the beach either. For the outside food thing, I don’t think I would have been able to comply with that, because I’m mildly anemic, and sometimes, I need a protein/iron fix NOW, and not in a few hours at the next scheduled meal. So, if I was attending a group trip like that now, I’d bring a box of Clif bars or something, explain in advance why I had them, and be mightily ticked off if I was banned from the trip for taking care of my health. As for the beach incident, if I was going to be taking a group of young people to the beach, I’d be encouraging them to enjoy the water fully, and I’d probably be in there swimming with them. Since I’m a good swimmer, and I’ve actually had to do a rescue in the middle of the water before, I know that I could do it again, so that would make the situation safer. Also, most camps here don’t have a “nobody can swim, ever” rule; instead, they do swimming tests on the first day, and they assign participants colour-coded wristbands according to swimming ability.

  89. Donna July 27, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    @Warren – Contraband just means something prohibited. In this case, chocolate was contraband.

    Of course, we did similar things to this as a child. It was far more impetuous than what we have here. We at least, as SKL said, intended to obey the rules when we agreed to them. We didn’t agree to them with our fingers crossed while sitting on a suitcase full of the very thing we just agreed not to bring.

    We were also well aware that getting caught meant we were screwed and nobody was going to go whining to the press about their poor baby’s punishment. It finally happened senior year (although I missed this one) and everyone present at the Beta Club (top students in the school) meeting ended up with a 3 day suspension. Something that goes on school records and affects college application, unlike a field trip at 11. Nobody whined. The press was not called. Parents were rightfully pissed … at their kids.

    And I was an 11 year old girl not too long ago and have a stellar memory. I’m very aware of who they are and where they are in life.

    “And this is the worst form of zero tolerance, one punishment no matter what the offense.”

    THIS is the only offense that we know about so we only know the punishment for THIS offense, not every offense.

    Zero tolerance is when a prescribed punishment for a rule is fitting for the most serious violation of the rule but is then used to punish even minor violations of that same rule. Most of us would agree that a kid who brings a gun to school intending to shoot a classmate probably deserves a year expulsion. We tend not to agree that a child who brings a cap gun deserves the same.

    Here we have the worst way to violate the candy rule. Not saying it is the worst behavior an 11 year old can do; just that I can’t really think of any way to more seriously way to violate this particular rule than to plan for weeks and bring a huge cache of candy. We know the punishment for the worst case scenario and nothing more. If the punishment is the same for a kid who accidentally brought a bag of chips that was leftover and forgotten in a backpack or the hypoglycemic kid who needs to eat every couple hours and worried the school would not arrange that so brought some snacks, then I would agree it was a zero tolerance rule. Otherwise, it is just a somewhat silly rule with a punishment that some here think is overly harsh.

  90. Warren July 27, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Different strokes for different folks.
    Senior year for us, and the cast and crew of the play were having a party after the final performance. Our english teacher, and director was in the hall, and one of our drummers set his large drum bag down near him. With the telltale clinking of bottles. Our teacher grinned, “Your seniors, and Im old enough to claim hearing impairment..” And he walked away.
    This is the very same teacher on day one of his gr. 13 english lit class stood before us and announced, ” I am not here to deprive you of your right to fail my class.” He had my respect for that, and even more for his silence, at the play. He could have very well busted a bunch of us, making life hell. But he didn’t because he knew there are just somethings you let go as rights of passage.

  91. Warren July 27, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    And I can think of far worse ways to to break a candy rule, than just sneaking in a planned stash.

  92. Donna July 27, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Actually, SKL, I don’t know what my vote is because I don’t know all the facts. We know what mom said. We know what some commenters claiming to the parents of other kids in the school said. I’d be incredibly surprised if EITHER version is 100% the truth.

    Sometimes I get a little tired of this site jumping on these things and being outraged, knowing only one side of the story. And what appears to be a lot of making your own snap decisions and then picking and choosing who to believe and who is discredited based on absolutely nothing other than who supports your particular view. In this case, you discount what all the parents are saying in comments but in the daycare story were so sure that the teacher was cooking her lunch because someone said so in the comments.

    I’m just not overly sympathetic to this particular kid. I think, even at its best description, her behavior deserved consequences and I just don’t think the consequences were all that harsh. She had to leave a school trip early for breaking rules (we know she did something at the beach and the candy thing) on that trip and nothing more. She missed some enjoyment in life but her freedom wasn’t at stake and her education wasn’t at stake. All those things that make the gun zero tolerance rules so extreme. The number of times that I’ve threatened to remove my child from some activity because of her behavior are numerous. I’ve only had to do it once or twice because she started behaving but I’d willingly do so so I don’t think that removing a kid who can’t even make it through one day without violating the rules is really so god-awful harsh.

    If some of the other facts given by the other parents are true, I really don’t think the consequences are too harsh. If my belief that the mother knew and supported the actions are true, then I have no sympathy for the mother at all but do have sympathy for the kid as she doesn’t have a very good role model.

  93. pentamom July 27, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    “In most of the “no tolerance” outrages we discuss here, the rule had previously been expressed in writing, and for whatever reason, the violator didn’t take it seriously / forgot / didn’t read the small print / decided to defy the rule assuming they wouldn’t really get the stated punishment. In most cases, our sympathy is with the child. So why is this case different?”

    To some extent, it’s probably because being sent home from a pleasure trip (a purely optional privilege) is not the same thing as being suspended or expelled from school (which should have a much higher bar for exclusion.)

    I haven’t really commented on this one because I can see both sides. If it were my kid, I’d definitely be taking the “too bad, so sad, you broke the rules” line, but OTOH unless there’s some situation where an infraction could lead to future classes never having this opportunity again, it seems an excessive rule.

  94. Warren July 27, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    This whole beach thing is troubling. If the incident on the beach was severe enough to make candy the breaking point, then why wasn’t the situation remedied right there and then, on the beach.

    The beach incident screams of “we screwed up, and better find more ammo to cover our rears”. Even more so considering the correspondance being opened, and the invasive search, resulting in property damage. Maybe just maybe they realized they jumped the gun, and now are doing whatever they can to protect themselves.

  95. Donna July 27, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    @Warren – Likewise, I’ve gone on school trips where hanging in the boys room and drinking until the middle of the night (the exact same thing the Beta Club got suspended for) got the response of “girls it’s time to go back to your room now” and nothing more. We also got a nice lecture when we got back about how we put her job at risk and how that was totally not cool and that next time she would have to report us.

    We also understood before going in that the consequences for getting caught were potentially serious. We understood that we were lucky to have been caught by a cool teacher but didn’t feel entitled to always get off scot-free and whine when we didn’t.

    It is the sense of entitlement presented here that I think most are pushing back against. The kids were told that bringing food would result in expulsion from the trip. No objection was raised before going that this penalty was too harsh, although this kid was already planning her candy-caper. The child then brought food and, surprise, surprise was expelled from the trip. Yes, they could have done something different. I can certainly see some valid arguments as to why they should have done something different. If I were the headmaster, I likely would have done something different. I’m not sure why everyone involved (and many here) feels so ENTITLED to have something different happen.

  96. Donna July 27, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    “This whole beach thing is troubling. If the incident on the beach was severe enough to make candy the breaking point, then why wasn’t the situation remedied right there and then, on the beach.”

    Who says it wasn’t? Not sure where you are getting the idea that nothing was done at the beach.

    And the letter thing is questionable. The mother simply says that the letter was read. The other parents all say that the letter was part of a writing assignment and was, of course, going to be read. And, proper letter writing is part of the curriculum in about this grade (or was when I was in school) so the idea isn’t completely unbelievable. Again, I don’t know which version to be true.

    The destroying the suitcase and throwing things around the room was totally uncalled for and the people who did it should be called out and the school should replace the suitcase.

  97. SKL July 27, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Donna, I believed that the daycare teacher was cooking her lunch because she said so herself (in the comments on the linked article).

    I have no problem removing my kids from an activity. In February I picked them up before the school Valentine’s party (much to the dismay of their teacher) because of a recent sugar-related incident. My dad didn’t let my brother attend the class DC trip in 7th grade because he didn’t meet some pre-set criteria (mainly grades if I recall correctly). That was hard, but who ever said discipline was easy?

    I don’t think we’re really disagreeing. But personally I am trying to isolate the issue of the candy, since we don’t actually know if the other stuff was true. I certainly agree we don’t have enough facts.

    I agree that it is frustrating that the initial “outrage” stories we see often omit important facts. Everyone fills in those facts with their own assumptions. WIth all the craziness in the recent news, one would think people would learn not to jump to conclusions or believe everything they read/hear.

  98. SKL July 27, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    I’m skeptical about the claim that the letter writing was a school assignment meant to be read by the teachers. If that is the case, then why would the girl have spilled the beans in the letter? Too dumb to know better (I doubt that) or was it the height of cheekiness? Or was the letter really supposed to be private?

  99. Warren July 27, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    For me there is no sense of entitlement whatsoever. It is the punishment must fit the crime that has my goat.

    If bringing food is criminal enough to cause expulsion from the trip, then it is safe to assume that expulsion is the answer for everything.

    When I play hockey I know what is within the rules and what is against the rules before I even suit up. Do I intend to obey the rules? Sort of. Every player knows it is against the rules to trip. But if it saves a goal you do it, and take the minor penalty.
    This school’s idea of rules would have me suspended for the season, for a minor infraction.
    That is what I have a big problem with.
    Dang, might as well go back to chopping of the hands of petty theives.

  100. Andy July 27, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    @Donna “The kids were told that bringing food would result in expulsion from the trip. No objection was raised before going that this penalty was too harsh”

    You can not mean that seriously. Do you really expect 12 years old kid to objects something like that? That would require huge bravery from the kid and the kid would be labeled as disrespectful and that would be it.

    Kids do not get to have say in such things and faulting them for not trying is unfair.

    Or they would call her entitled. Most likely entitled. I’m sick of the word entitled. It lately means only that someone young happened to think he is treated unfairly or too harsh. Or not be perfect.

  101. Warren July 27, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Would the courts consider an eleven year old compotent enough to sign a binding contract, and be held to the letter of the contract? Just curious.

  102. Warren July 27, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    please excuse the spelling been a long day doing service calls, and sitting in truck stops between them.

  103. pentamom July 27, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Warren, I’m not a legal expert like Donna but if her mother signed with her permission on the child’s behalf, then her mother’s permission was given to enforce the contract on the child, so the contract is essentially with the mother that, should the child break the rules, the punishment will be meted out.

  104. pentamom July 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    “This school’s idea of rules would have me suspended for the season, for a minor infraction. ”

    And if hockey worked that way, I’m assuming you wouldn’t play under those rules. But this mother chose to allow her child to do the activity under those rules — it’s too late, regardless of whether we agree that the punishment was unfair, to complain about the punishment they knew about in advance.

    If you feel strongly enough about the rules being stupid, you shouldn’t sign something saying you agree to let your kid do it under those rules. (We’ve declined to let our kids do things on that basis before.) If you agree to let them do it, you have no grounds to complain afterward, though it would certainly make sense to try to get the rules changed before you are affected by them.

  105. Donna July 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    @SKL – Unless the mother already knew about candy-gate, I find the mention in the letter bizarre so I don’t put it past her to “confess” in a school assignment. It could also be that she didn’t understand that the letters were to be read although a class assignment.

    And we know something happened on the beach. It has been mentioned in every article. We don’t know what but there was some misbehavior there.

    @Andy – Of course I don’t expect the CHILDREN to speak up. Every trip like this I’ve heard of in the last 15 years was proceeded by at least one mandatory PARENTS meeting where expectations and rules are clearly laid out. If the PARENTS would find it objectionable for their children to get X penalty for X behavior, they need to speak up BEFORE the trip. It seems a lot of parents refuse to speak up ahead of time, but have no trouble blasting the school in the press when it happens to their little darling. Clearly, they truly have no objection to the rule itself, just how it is applied to there child after-the-fact.

    Warren – As I just said, I am talking about the PARENTS not the children.

  106. Andy July 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    On one hand, people (Americans) complain about kids being spoiled and coddled. Having no discipline and being allowed to do whatever.

    On the other hand, when the topic of punishment and rules comes up, the punishment is too often disproportionately big. Much bigger then what I would face for the same act as a kid. And people seem to be perfectly ok with it.

    Half of the time, I would not even have the rule. You would have to replace chocolate by a lot of alcohol or attempt to escape to even talk about sending the kid home from trip without looking crazy.

    It would happen if the kid would be seriously out of control and prevent normal flow of the camp. “Brought in chocolate and nobody found out until she wrote it in a letter” does not count as such.

    I do not remember school rules being treated as rigid mini criminal system, as it seems to be in these topics. It is as if punishment itself would be primary goal, not teaching kids how to behave.

    The message repeatedly send seem to be “If I have power over you, I’m free to use that power in any way I like. Any no matter how small show of disrespect means that I do not have to care about you at all. I’m the one with power. ” I do not want future generation to learn that.

  107. Andy July 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    @pentamon We are not arguing that what the camp did was illegal. Illegal means “very very bad” and teachers would have to do much more to cross that line.

    We are saying that it is not reasonable way to deal with disciplinary issues. That is sound like yet another overreaction. Trip or school discipline is not and should not be treated as civil or criminal law.

  108. SKL July 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    I’ve signed behavior agreements before. I interpret them to mean that I will make sure my kid understands these expectations. I don’t interpret them to guarantee that my kid will never do something stupid like break a known rule.

    And also, I would assume the listed consequences to mean “up to.”

    Usually the rules list include stuff like “respecting fellow campers, obeying counselors’ instructions, being prepared for xyz.” Sure I agree that my kids should do all those things, but there will be times when my kids’ behavior choices don’t match the adults’ view of what constitutes compliance. Like, my kid may need to be told more than once to do xyz before she does it. I don’t expect my kid to be expelled for behavior that is within a range of age-appropriate foolishness. I expect a camp to be prepared to deal with such things.

    This summer, my kids have been in a number of camps, all of which had effective policies for dealing with foolishness. Neither my kids nor the other kids behaved perfectly, but nobody was sent home or expelled as far as I know.

  109. Donna July 27, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    @SKL –

    I don’t think that anyone is saying that the parents are guaranteeing that their children will behave by signing the form. They are, however, acknowledging the rules and penalties listed. If you have a problem with the rules and/or penalties being enforced against your children, the time to bring it up is before you sign the form, not after your child breaks a listed rule and is disciplined for it.

    And why would you assume that the list of consequences mean “up to” if they don’t say “up to?” It seems like utter ridiculousness to read/hear “Food is prohibited; anyone who brings food will be expelled” and then be upset that your child was actually expelled because you assumed an “up to” in there that never existed.

  110. Donna July 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    @ Andy –

    The issue for me is some level of personal responsibility for your own choices. If you are told “if you do X, Z will happen” and you do X, it seems completely idiotic to be outraged when Z actually happens, particularly when you didn’t seem upset about the potential for Z prior to it occurring. (Again, I am talking like the outrage of the mother and not the child).

    And you are going to have different opinions on whether a punishment is actually overly punitive. I don’t think that this one is horribly overly punitive and I think simply taking the candy away too minor. If it had been my kid, I would have told the camp to keep her and not make it my problem, an option that this mother had but chose not to take.

  111. SKL July 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Well Donna, we don’t know exactly what the rules actually said. I doubt it specifically said “if your child brings food she will be expelled.” More likely that was one of a list of items and somewhere before/after the list, it probably said “your kid *may* be expelled” or something to that effect. Of course I don’t *know,* but in the absence of documentation, I’m going by what I’ve seen and experienced, and the fact that it would be just crazy to say “expulsion WILL result if your kid brings anything to eat.”

    I’m still waiting to find out if the other girls involved in the “feast” were expelled.

  112. Lisa July 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Keep in mind that the details of the suitcase search came directly from the 11 year old girl who was upset about being asked to leave the trip. Not saying she made it up as there was obviously some damage to the suitcase, but it seemed a little dramatic in the retelling from the mom.

  113. Puzzled July 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm #


    Actually, it’s not treated as a mini criminal justice system. In the criminal justice system, it remains the case (despite much effort to the contrary, too much of it successful) that there are rules of evidence – and a need for evidence. In the criminal justice system, silly offenses are almost never punished as fully as they literally can be – yet that is the standard in schools. In fact, people, when asked, are probably more likely to say that the purpose of jails is rehabilitation than they are to say that the purpose of discipline in schools is education.

    What’s really happening with the school discipline system is many-fold, all of it bad. Mostly, adults are living increasingly stressed lives, and their good humor and loving attitudes towards kids are suffering. The American worker is strained enough that his attitude becomes one of callous semi-hatred because he starts to see kids as not pulling their fair share – they don’t work, they have stuff, half the commercials are thing for them, and we have to pay taxes for their education. Couple this with Republican mantras about welfare queens and conservative attitudes towards education – a vision through which schools are seen as failing to uphold standards “the way we had it” whenever they do anything other than drill and kill – and you get impatience and barely-hidden hatred of children.

    Bottom line – people are looking into the garden of childhood and saying “who died and made you king?” They’re completely misunderstanding childhood, and hate children for being children. These people are also voters, and schools react to voter attitudes. Instead of “let’s work on this so that you learn” the desired response is “how dare you – you who have had all this tax money spent on you!” The desire is to punish so that they will learn how to behave as the adults want.

    All of this, of course, inverts the purpose of childhood and of education. Children aren’t meant to be small adults, fully repressed – they are meant to be children, to experiment, and to be idealistic. If we don’t allow children to be idealistic dreamers, if we insist “the world isn’t fair, so school shouldn’t be either” we lose what that vision adds when they grow up. We don’t end up with adults who, drawing on their childhood, want to make the world fair. We end up with adults who, drawing on their childhood, want to hurt others. Most of all, schools are meant to pass on to children the accumulated wisdom of the ages and the tools necessary to construct their world – instead, between rigid academics and insane discipline, we are producing a generation (and have for several generations hence) of rule-followers. We are using schools to reproduce current wrongs – and force children to learn about them as if they were parts of nature, as they sit in civics class and learn about lobbyists, the Fed, corporate personhood, and all the rest, so that they will be taken as part of their world, not injustices to correct.

  114. Andy July 27, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    @puzzled What you wrote sounds reasonable. But, the desire to punish seems to me as defining American feature. Any time there is a problem, the discussion is about who should be punished more then already is.

    I mean, states have biggest prison population in both absolute and proportional terms. Almost any punishment in states is bigger then the one in Europe. That desire to punish any transgression or non comformity as hard as possible seems to be targeted to more then just kids.

  115. Andy July 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    @puzzled As for your last paragraph, that is what worry me. That kids will grow into people who will just want to bend others into their will, with no tolerance to non conformity, interpret any minor thing as big disrespect, primary by using any force and power they can. The same way as they are treated now.

    When I will be old, I will be vulnerable. I do not want nurses to punish me cause sixth page of fine print kinda suggests I should not have laptop turned on at eleven. Or something of the sort.

  116. Natalie July 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm #


    There’s more to this story than what’s printed.
    If another kid had been caught with candy, I don’t think they would have been punished the same, but that’s just my speculation.

    One thing is for sure, this isn’t a zero tolerance rule.
    This is a rule.
    There is a difference.

    Nobody is being punished for making candy bar hand gestures with their hands, or talking about candy bars, or cutting paper in the shape of candy bars, or wearing a t-shirt with a candy bar on it.

  117. pentamom July 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Andy, I wasn’t treating it “legally.” I’m saying morally, you have no right to complain about something you agreed to, and were under no compulsion to participate in. I don’t dispute that it’s probably a dumb rule, but they should have thought of that before they agreed to it. The option of not agreeing to it was always there.

  118. Donna July 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    SKL – Based on what you wrote it sounded like you always took penalties in these types of rule books to mean “up to.” My kids school and camp both have some rules that list penalties as “up to” and others that specify a specific penalty, sometimes expulsion, will occur for a certain act.

    We have no idea what this rule says. It seems pretty asinine to draw a line in the sand and say food automatically means expulsion as the commenters who claim to be other parents assert occurred in the pre-trip meeting. But we also don’t know the basis of the rule or what has come before. There were a couple times in my high school days where some rule suddenly became extremely important to enforce for some reason, usually a result of some group before stepping too far over the line. Heck, I’ve even seen it at just about every place I’ve ever worked. Managers look the other way for silly policies until things go one step too far and then they rein everyone back in by being real sticklers for awhile.

    Do we know if anyone knew at the time what part the other girls played? We don’t know what the letter said. We don’t know if this girl ratted out her friends. It appears that just her luggage was searched so whatever the other kids had was never found. Clearly they know now that her roommates were involved but the trip is over.

  119. Emily July 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    I agree with Andy, and I think his post about how stressed-out adults are creating a culture of impatience and borderline hatred towards children, was spot-on. Also, one of the biggest things I learned from my youth, and from working with young people, is that the best way to get young people to follow rules, is to not have too many, and only stress the really important ones. So, with my high school band, when we travelled, the rules were basically, be kind and respectful to one another, wear the right things at the right times (formal uniforms for performances, casual uniforms for “fancy” sightseeing destinations and at the airport, and whatever we wanted the rest of the time), stay in groups of however many at a time (often not strictly enforced with older students), don’t drink alcohol if you’re underage, and of course, have fun.

    When I’m in situations working with kids (like the music camp I helped with last summer), the rules are pretty much the same–be kind and respectful, be safe (which covers things like staying with the group, and wearing shoes outdoors, etc.), don’t touch things that aren’t yours without permission (but, a child asking something like “can I play the piano” would almost always get an affirmative response), and of course, have fun.

    Anyway, in both of these situations, a “minimalist” approach to rules made everyone much happier, than if the people in charge were all authoritarian, and banned everything from chocolate to cartwheels to high fives, which, sadly, is becoming the way things are done. What I’ve found, from both sides of the equation, is that kids chafe under excessive rules, and are more likely to rebel; whereas if they’re given a wider range of “acceptable behaviour,” with lots of positive reinforcement, then they’ll breathe easier, feel accepted for who they are, and behave. It won’t stamp out all vestiges of youthful exuberance, but that’s okay, because that shouldn’t be the goal anyway.

  120. Puzzled July 27, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Andy – good and fair points. You’re right, I did overstate the degree to which such things are unique to kids – but the fact remains (and in fact is highlighted by your point) that what is done to kids remains, in spite of this, far more draconian in terms of process than is done to adults.

    Yes, plea bargains, for instance, have taken away, in some 96% of cases, the evidence requirements – but at least a plea bargain gives the defendant some sort of break. Kids are expected to plead guilty, and to name names, with no deal. They are not treated as defendants in the process, with something akin to rights.

    I agree with your second point entirely, except to say that I think I worry more about the future after I’m gone than I do about my future treatment. Both are concerns, though.

  121. Puzzled July 27, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Warren – I wish I could do what you did in such circumstances. In point of fact, though, if I did, I’d be reported to the police by the parents. However, if where you are, drinking at 16 is legal, just against a school rule, I can see why it would have gone over better. My point is, though, I understand where you’re coming from, and wish I lived in a world where those sorts of just, reasonable actions would fly.

  122. Donna July 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    @puzzled and Andy – This fear of conformity at all costs in the future is just funny to me. I see nothing wrong with what was done here and am yet give me a rule and I am liable to break it. Except in games, I hate following rules (for whatever reason, I am a stickler for rules in games and am miserable to play with).

    That said I do understand that there is a potential penalty for my choice to break the rules. Granted I do the best that I can to minimize the effect on me – ie. I am very good at what I do so my employers have generally tolerated the fact that I am going to just do my own thing regardless of what they say. And I stay out of corporate America where conformity is required. But at the end of the day, I am willing to accept what my rule breaking deals me.

    What I have a hard time grasping is the attitude here that seems to be “I can break any rule I don’t agree with and expect nothing to happen … or at least only something I think is reasonable even if the potential penalty was explained beforehand.” If I am nailed for breaking a rule, I don’t whine about it. I knew what the risk was going in.

  123. Warren July 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    the legal drinking age at the time was and still is 19 in the province of Ontario.

    I want all of you that are supporting the contract signing to take a deep breath and rejoin reality.

    There is no way that the school had a list of things that were absolute causes for punishment. To do so would create a contract with so many pages, that you would need weeks and a team of Donnas to sort through it. The contract has got to be like most any other with so much room for interpretation, that you could expell a Saint should you wish.
    As for disagreeing with the rules before hand, what are you going to do, deny your 11yr old her trip? It is basically extortion. sign or don’t go, not much of a choice.
    As for the contracts, I am pleased that to date have not had to deal with one, for any of my kids. And yes I would stand up and call the school out on anything moronic like this.

    Donna, when you go to court for sentencing, do you just sit back and accept the max allowable sentence? No you don’t.You do your best to help your client. So why are you so ready to throw this kid under the bus?

  124. SKL July 27, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Donna, I don’t accept the logic that this year’s kids should have higher expectations because last year’s kids went way over the line. This year’s kids are still 11yos and they deserve a clean slate and a realistic set of age-appropriate expectations.

    If an organization can’t run a camp with age-appropriate, reasonable rules and discipline, they should not be running a camp. Period.

    The whole “you could have opted out” also doesn’t impress me. Yeah, I could have kept my kid home instead of letting her go with her friends and risking the possibility that she would do things that kids do. So my kid gets left out of all the fun. How is that a solution to stupid rules? Well, I guess if nobody was sent to camp, and instead of applications all the leaders got were complaints about their policy, maybe the leaders would change the policy. But even if that happened, the once-in-a-lifetime sixth grade trip would be a lost opportunity for that group of kids.

    I really hope you all are right, that this girl is just a little hellion and it was high time she got her comeuppance.

  125. Andy July 28, 2013 at 4:30 am #

    If some group was stepping too far over the line, then you start with bringing that group closer to line. It make sense to decide to enforce the rule more consistently and sooner.

    Taking a kid that is not a member of that group and sending him home for something that is normally minor misbehavior does not make sense.

  126. Andy July 28, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    1.) Do you seriously expect 12 years old to do risk benefit calculation? Especially when in situation that is out of ordinary normal expectation she learned up to know? (Being sent home for chocolate is out of ordinary expectations).

    2.) If you create penal code that prescribe unfairly huge punishments to small infractions, that criminal code is unfair even if we know about it up front.

    None of us broke that rule and was punished. So please, do not call our disagreement whining. The way you treat it makes it almost impossible to talk about punishment appropriateness.

    If I try to negotiate punishments before activity, I’m told that discretion and brain will be used. That I’m difficult cause of course they will not use maximum possible punishment. And the form is there mainly to protect them against lawsuits from suit happy parents.

    Once they do use maximum punishment, then everyone should be ok with it, cause we have been expected to bring lawyer and negotiate those details before it.

    3.) It is fear of word where small infractions automatically lead to big punishments. A world where those in power put on so many arbitrary rules, that you can be sure that many people will be punished in a big way in one point or another. That is what we are teaching kids.

    It is not fear that everyone will be the same, I would not mind it that much anyway. Rather, it is fear that those who are not perfect will be treated exceedingly harshly.

    * The world where kid gets week of suspension because the kid was late to school once. (Should have know school rules.)

    * Where you get fired from job because heavy object fallen on your leg once and you used swear word. (Should have read employee manual page 134.)

    * Where you get CPS called on you cause you allowed your 15 years old to play computer game labeled 16 years and older. (Should have read parenting best practices.)

    * Where you go to jail for paying monthly bill one day late once – and no one cares you forgot cause you have been sick. Or where you get fine big enough to bankrupt you.

    It is the world where I can not go to different employer and find different school, because harshness and rigid legalistic view of discipline is a norm.

  127. Amanda Matthews July 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Isn’t reading someone else’s mail illegal?

    Is this a school trip or jail?

    On the subject of food allergies, sorry but you have to teach your kid to function in the world rather than depending on others to follow the rules to protect them… and heck even if these kids did follow the rules, for all you know someone could have walked through those woods with candy before your kid got there!

  128. pentamom July 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    I think, assuming there is not some weird factor we don’t know about and that I can’t personally imagine, that the punishment is excessive.

    I also think that any parent who signs something saying that her kid would get kicked out of an event for having candy there has to bear *some* responsibility for signing such an agreement, rather than blaming it *all* on the institution that asked (not forced) her to sign the agreement.

    I understand that kids will do things they’re not supposed to. That’s why we, as parents, should think long and hard about signing things that allow institutions to impose harsh punishments for small infractions, particularly when no one is forcing our child to engage in the activities covered by the agreement. If a school requires such an agreement to attend school, and we have no other good options for our child’s education, we have a problem. If a school requires such an agreement to attend a pleasure outing, we should say, “No thanks, I’m not making my child subject to those rules.” Do the parents have NO responsibility up front? Or are we just supposed to say that we can sign anything we want on behalf of our kids, even subjecting them to excessive punishment, and then it’s 100% someone else’s fault and 0% ours when they take us at our word?

  129. SKL July 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Pentamom, again, I think we need to see the agreement they signed before we can say whether it was wrong to sign it vs. wrong to apply it the way it was applied. Because I really find it hard to believe any of the parents would have seriously, intentionally agreed that their kid could be sent home for eating something at the wrong time/place at a week-long sleepaway camp.

    I am currently reading a biography on Winston Churchill. 100 years ago, he took it upon himself to reform the penal system so that adults and youths would stop getting ridiculously harsh penalties for minor offenses. Extremely harsh sentences prevent rather than promote actual discipline (which is supposed to mean teaching the person to do better). They prevent people from learning how to think logically and make sound decisions. I’m far from being a bleeding heart, but I do understand the logic that extreme, purely punitive “discipline” is counterproductive as well as just plain mean.

  130. pentamom July 28, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    SKL — I can agree that if the wording was open-ended or vague, the parent might have a leg to stand on, and could possibly make the case that the punishment was applied unfairly, if it wasn’t clear that it was a fixed punishment for the offense that actually happened. I’m just saying that if you agree to something like that with the clear understanding (or at least the understanding should be clear) of what the requirements and penalties are, it’s completely reasonable to say the punishment is too harsh, but you still have to bear the responsibility for accepting it in the first place.

  131. Puzzled July 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Donna – my concern for the future is not that those who support these rules will not be rule-breakers. In fact, those who enforce strict rules might well be rule-breakers in their ‘real lives’ and usually are. My concern is related to the fact that these are schools, and they teach things through every action. That’s why you bringing in legal terms doesn’t satisfy me here (although I’m not entirely convinced legally anyway – you know more about this than I do, but my understanding is that a valid contract requires a meeting of the minds, which does invalidate any contract where a party could not be expected to read and understand every clause – plus, if you really want to be legalistic about it, either the parent signed that contract and you’re trying to bind a third party, or the child signed it too – but their signature is invalid.) Anyway, bringing up legal principles is not helpful, in my opinion, since we’re not talking about a criminal justice system, or a legal system, we’re talking about a school. Schools cannot just blindly copy other systems, since they exist for different reasons. If schools, in their discipline system, simply copy criminal justice (minus concerns for evidence and due process, of course) then they are not teaching kids that things can be better, and their kids will not try to change and improve the justice system when they grow up.

    What if schools had done a ‘better’ job of teaching MLK the importance of the white race, how inappropriate it is to rile people up by purposefully ignoring rules, etc.? Would a ‘properly socialized’ MLK have led a boycott, or the march in Birmingham – or would he have internalized what he was taught, and learned that we solve thing in nicer ways, not by doing illegal/inappropriate things?

  132. Puzzled July 28, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Andy – that’s a great point. Why do I expect that, if the mother asked about that line beforehand, she would have been told “well, we have to include such things, lawyer and such, state the maximum, you know, but we’re reasonable people…”

  133. Steve July 28, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Maybe they thought she was bringing in meth.