The Overnight Trip

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a while, trying to get some objective distance on it.  But no matter how long I wait I’ll never have all the answers, and it’s something every parent is going to have to face at some time or another: The Overnight Trip.

Unless your child attends a single-gender school they will, at some point, go on a co-ed overnight trip.  It may be the entire class or one of the many extra-curricular activities that are so important during the teen years.  There will be chaperons, there will be bed checks, but there will always, always, be issues.

But the issues seem to be getting more serious and more complex.  Back when I was in high school and dinosaurs roamed the earth usually it was “mean girl” bullying, or perhaps a few brave souls who snuck out after bed check to roam around for a little while – just long enough to prove they were “cool”, but not enough to get caught.

These days the issues are more sexual in origin.  We’ve all heard the horror stories: middle-schoolers having oral sex on the school bus, kids being taunted and bullied because of their still-confused sexual preferences in person and online.  Suicides.  School shootings.

But when two teens at a local high school were suspended for sexual activity on an overnight school-sponsored trip it was like a stake through my heart.  Because my son knew both kids.  He was on that trip.  While I had my mom-breakdown he assured me he would never do anything like that, and I trust him.  But I’m sure those parents trusted their kids, too.  And I know the chaperons were plentiful and vigilant.

Over the next few days, and John and I talked more about it (honestly, I could only handle it in small doses) and he revealed another disturbing aspect of the trip.  It was four kids to a room and they got to choose their own roommates, but  there were a significant numbers of gay and lesbian teens in the group.  One of the boys John was supposed to room with (four boys, two beds) was gay.  John was uncomfortable sharing a bed with anyone, gay or straight, so he slept in a chair one night and a bathtub the other.  Were other students put in equally uncomfortable situations?

I asked my older son about his overnight trips in high school – if there were sexual shenanigans that hadn’t been found out, if there were teens rooming with teens of the same gender but different sexual orientation.  He said even the most complex bed-check arrangement could be gotten around by those who wanted to, and that “everybody was cool with” the sexual orientation issue.

I tried to put myself in the kids’ place.  As an adult, I wouldn’t think twice about sharing a bed with a lesbian I barely knew at a blogging or writing conference, but if my roommate brought someone (male or female) back to our room for sex I would be appalled and furious.  If I were a teen I can’t imagine that I would be able to deal with either of the above scenarios.  I guess I would have been sleeping in the tub, too.

We all try to raise our children to be trustworthy and responsible.  To make good decisions.  But they are not always going to be in ideal situations, or with others who are using good judgement.  My goal right now is just to keep the lines of communication wide open.  And pray every single day for God to guide my children’s decisions.


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10 thoughts on “The Overnight Trip”

  1. I think I just kept myself in my own little bubble. I went on overnight trips in high school and had no clue that anything was going on that shouldn’t. Though, looking back, I’m sure it was.

    Can I hope my kids are like me? Or can I just go as a chaperone on all of their trips and make them stay with me?

    1. I can just see your kids’ eyes roll at the “chaperone everything” plan, but I do have a friend who has pretty much done that. It bites you in the butt in the end, though, when you want them to be mature and make good decisions without you. It drives me crazy when there’s no “right” answer sometimes and you just have to wing it. Oh. Wait. That is pretty much all the time in parenting, huh? See, they’ve finally driven me completely bonkers!

      1. That’s true- they do need to learn how to do things without me. Right now, I am that mom who chaperones all the field trips and is first to volunteer when the teacher needs help with a project in the classroom. Though I only went on the last field trip because my son looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wasn’t going to go.

        Then again, he’s only in third grade. 😉

        1. You have PLENTY of time. I wish I’d had the internet connections and fabulous books that are out now when I was raising my 22yo, but one of the great things about Masterminds and Wingmen is that I’m finding out many of the things I just went with my gut on were the right choices! *wipes brow*

  2. I don’t remember going on any overnight trips, coed or other, in high school, but I think I would have been like John, unwilling to share a bed with anyone. I have personal space issues. However, it makes me fearful of what the future might hold since neither of my boys share that quirk of mine. Scary stuff to think about.

      1. Oh yes! I’d love to room with you, but maybe separate beds? 😉 I need to read Masterminds and Wingmen. It appears I have one of each, so maybe it will help me keep straight how to parent each one.

    1. John seemed perfectly comfortable with that option, which is why I’m not bringing it up with the band director. I figure if kids CAN work things out to their satisfaction themselves then we parents can focus on the other issues that plague them.

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