Parents' Guide to Bonnaroo

Should I let my child go to Bonnaroo?

I often get from readers of this blog and the Survival Guide questions that could be summed up as "Should I let my son/daughter go to Bonnaroo?"  Being a parent myself I understand the concerns.  I'm not going to cover "Should I take my child to Bonnaroo with me?", this is aimed more at the parents of older teenagers (15-17ish) who are considering letting their kids go to Bonnaroo alone or with friends.  15-17 is a very arbitrary range, it is ultimately up to you to decide what is an acceptable age.

The obvious concern that all parents have is the safety of their children.  In terms of physical security, Bonnaroo is pretty safe.  There is little in the way of violence at 'roo; for the most part, people are there to have a good time.  As far as sexual harassment goes, most women I've spoken with have felt safe at Bonnaroo.  There are always a few loud drunk idiots being crude, but this is the exception rather than the rule.  If someone is being hassled, Bonnaroo is packed with people day and night, if someone yells "HELP" there are going to be a couple of dozen people within earshot and people do a pretty good job of looking out for one another at 'roo.  That being said, common sense is still needed, no one should wander off with a stranger (or their new best friend that they met an hour before) to some dark corner at 1:00 am.

Both drugs and alcohol are easy to come by at Bonnaroo.  Truly "hard" drugs are not very prevalent, but pot and ecstasy (AKA "Molly") are common.  There aren't going to be "pushers" like in the Very Special after school TV shows, but drugs and booze can be obtained.  Plenty of people partake at Bonnaroo, plenty of people don't.  As a parent, you need to make a decision if you are comfortable with your child being around this and whether or not they are mature and responsible enough to be smart about it.

One of the biggest concerns for a teenager, or anyone for that matter, is the heat.  Bonnaroo is a four day festival, outside, in Tennessee, in the summer, without a whole lot of shade.  It is critically important to be smart about taking care of yourself in the heat.  There are free water stations throughout Bonnaroo, USE THEM!  The sun is bright, wear a hat w/ a brim.  Don't wear black or dark colors, no matter how hip the t-shirt is.  Sunscreen, if you normally wear SPF 15, bring 45, wear it.  If you are feeling a little run down, get in the shade or in a misting tent for a spell.  If you, or someone you are with, start showing or feeling the signs of heatstroke, get to a medical tent or flag down the nearest security person for help.

You are going to want your child to keep in touch with you at Bonnaroo.  However, most people's cell phone batteries die after a day or so.  If you want them to be able to get in touch, make sure they have a car charger, a spare (charged) battery, etc.  Bonnaroo is loud, so it is probably unrealistic to expect your child to answer their cell anytime you call.  What I do (and suggest) is; call home in the morning, let everyone know I'm OK, turn off my phone, leave it in my truck where its safe, repeat the next morning.

These are just a few thoughts about letting kids go to Bonnaroo, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me, the address is toward to top right part of the page.

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