Campsite security

A reader asked the following question, "Do you have any tips on keeping your stuff safe at your camp site?".  The question was particularly about the tent only area but my answer can be applied to anywhere.

The main thing I do is not leave anything real valuable at my site. I leave most of my $ and cell phone locked in my truck. In the morning I wander over there, get any cash I need, call home to let everyone know I'm still alive, then lock everything back up. Another (obvious) thing is not to leave valuable stuff in plain sight. There isn't a lot of theft from campsites, but what theft does occur is usually just people grabbing a bag off of a chair or from an open tent as they walk by. If you are camping in tent only, I'd advise not camping right along a road or near a corner of the space where a lot of people will cut through. The less traffic, the fewer people walking by who might grab something.
I wind up bringing a decent amount of stuff so I keep most of my gear in a locked medium sized Actionpacker cargo box that I drag to the campsite. Theoretically someone could just boost the whole box and then try to break it open but most thieves at 'roo are just going for the low hanging fruit.


Parents' Guide revisited

I had a parent of an older teen ask of Bonnaroo, "Is it worth the money? ... Is it safe?"  Here's a edited version of what I wrote back.

Is it worth the money?  I can say it is for me, but this year will
be my 9th time going, so I may be a little biased.  Given the number of bands that you can see over the long weekend, I think it is a good buy.  I have kids, so I'm not able to get to as many shows during the year as I used to, Bonnaroo is a great chance to"catch up" for me.

  Is it safe?  Mostly yes [...] here is what I think the most important consideration is. How mature and responsible do you think your child is?  The reason I ask is that 'roo is like most of the world, if you are smart and don't go looking for trouble, trouble will probably pass you by.  However, if you are less than smart or actively go looking for trouble, there is plenty of trouble to be found.  For the average older teen I'd think the two main dangers are the heat and drink/drugs (and they are related).

  Last year was not bad weather wise, but some years 'roo has been brutally hot and sunny.  Talking w/ the people in the medical tents, the majority of cases they see are for dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  This is avoidable if you pay attention, drink LOTS of water (there are free water stations), wear light colored clothes, hang out in the shade when you can, pace yourself.

  There are drugs and alcohol at Bonnaroo.  Both are easy to get, even for a teenager.  Nobody is going to be pressuring your child
 to take drugs, but there are plenty of people happy to sell them if he's interested.  Few people OD on drugs at 'roo (there isn't much "hard" stuff), but Ecstacy ("X" or "Molly") can increase dehydration, which can be a big problem.

  Personal violence isn't a problem at Bonnaroo.  I don't think I've ever seen a fight there.  I'd not worry too much about that.

  I really hope I didn't scare you; the VAST majority of people leave Bonnaroo with nothing worse than sore feet, smelly clothes, a little bit of sleep deprivation (shows go until 3am) and a whole lot of great memories.  About 80,000 people go to 'roo every year and there are very few problems.  I've been to a bunch of fests and Bonnaroo is actually very well run.


Bonnaroo 2013 Lineup Announced!

This years lineup just dropped!  They will most likely add additional performers in the coming weeks.


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.