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Parents Of Hs Seniors
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My son wants to travel with a small group from a church, across the country, the week of his high school graduation. They will fly out, spend 3 or 4 days in service projects in the Southwest, and then fly home, arriving the day before his graduation. He would pay for the trip.

I want to be fair, but I was exasperated. Their flight arrives around 9, after they pick up baggage and leave the Phoenix airport, they "will go grocery shopping" but they aren't sure where. The service work will be done -- probably-- at a native american reservation. They aren't sure. They are sleeping at a church. It will be in the 100's and obviously extremely sunny; my son takes meds that require him to limit his sun exposure to avoid serious complications. They don't know when the return flight leaves or when it gets in. He has to have a deposit in 2 weeks.

Apart from the vagueness, there are the 3 adults going. One of them has been very vocal in the past about students needing "unnecessary special treatment" and I can easily imagine her as one of those "oh, you can eat this" kind of people. But that's just my impression, founded in little fact and a lot of radar. This is not our church, it is the church that sponsors a great youth group that he attends with his girlfriend (who is also going).

So. What would you do? My husband is absolutely against it. I should add that the day AFTER graduation, the entire 100+ youth group goes every year to the beach for a week, for a retreat. He expects to attend that as well; I think at the very least it's an either/or proposition but I'm interested in others' input!

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It sounds like the gluten free issue is just the tip of the iceberg for this trip! In fact, that would be the least of my worries as most grocery stores, at least in large communities, have a gluten free aisle. And even if they didn't, there are gluten free options throughout the store, you just need to plan out what he would get. But the vagueness of everything would make me more nervous. Is it possible to have a sit down meeting with the person in charge of this trip to get all of your questions answered?? That is where I would start! Good luck.

My son wants to travel with a small group from a church, across the country, the week of his high school graduation. They will fly out, spend 3 or 4 days in service projects in the Southwest, and then fly home, arriving the day before his graduation. He would pay for the trip.

I want to be fair, but I was exasperated. Their flight arrives around 9, after they pick up baggage and leave the Phoenix airport, they "will go grocery shopping" but they aren't sure where. The service work will be done -- probably-- at a native american reservation. They aren't sure. They are sleeping at a church. It will be in the 100's and obviously extremely sunny; my son takes meds that require him to limit his sun exposure to avoid serious complications. They don't know when the return flight leaves or when it gets in. He has to have a deposit in 2 weeks.

Apart from the vagueness, there are the 3 adults going. One of them has been very vocal in the past about students needing "unnecessary special treatment" and I can easily imagine her as one of those "oh, you can eat this" kind of people. But that's just my impression, founded in little fact and a lot of radar. This is not our church, it is the church that sponsors a great youth group that he attends with his girlfriend (who is also going).

So. What would you do? My husband is absolutely against it. I should add that the day AFTER graduation, the entire 100+ youth group goes every year to the beach for a week, for a retreat. He expects to attend that as well; I think at the very least it's an either/or proposition but I'm interested in others' input!

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I have a senior as well and I agree with hubby. I would not be comfortable with the vagueness either. If the flight is already booked. then the info on the return flight should be made available . It's not like they booked an open ticket! If it isn't even your church why is there even an issue? Its all too wishy washy and I wouldn't trust my child's safety with these people. that's my 2 cents.

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Agree with the previous posters.

I have a 2 boys - a freshman in college & a sophmore in HS.

I probably wouldn't let mine go on either trip. I would have to know the people supervising. Or I would go, too. I can understand they may not know who they are going to help as that could change in a few months. Maybe look at what they did in the past?

I didn't let mine go on the "Senior Trip" at school because I didn't feel like it was supervised well at all. The parents that go, do thier own partying and some kid always kids in some sort of trouble.

I know this is a church group but....

Maybe you can get involved in the planning? Help them find a big grocery? Or Walmart? What are the food arrangements for the other kids? Are they all cooking thier own? Have a kitchen? Over a fire? A fridge?

He could certainly pack a jar of PB (checked luggage) and some plastic spoons. Packs of nuts. Stuff like that incase he can't eat.

As for the sun & heat.... I think you & he need a frank talk without Girl friend around about that. Falling out in front of her isn't impressive. They won't know what they are doing until they get there (maybe) so I would assume they will be working outside.

Is there something else you could get him involved in that week?

Remember, no matter what is decided, and even if he agrees its not a good idea, you are the reason he will tell everyone he can't go. Its our job as parents to be the "bad guy". ;)

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I live in AZ (lived in the Phoenix area, now Tucson). There are very few gluten-free options outside the major metro areas, unless you can cook with whole foods.

Also, it's beside the point if he has an issue with heat. This is heat x 2, on steroids with a grudge. You CAN NOT avoid the sun unless you are inside during the day. It reflects, it bounces around, and it is relentless.

If you let him come out here I'll email you my contact info if you need help (or if he needs emergency pull-out).

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The group itself is not the problem -- he's belonged to this youth group for 2 years, his friends are all part of it and our home church does not have a youth group. So I'm fine there, but the whole "pick up something to eat" part bugs me. I'm often overly cautious so I'm just checking! Seriously, how often do we go into a store and there's little to eat? For my kid with braces. Who may, or may not, have anyplace to cook. And if he does, we've no way to know if the utensils, etc.. are useable.

Even typing this, I'm thinking "no way..no way"

Ohyes to the mom as bad guy! Haven't we all been there?!

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Just for a different perspective (I'm not a mom), it's really possible to pack enough food for 3 or 4 days, and this might be a great opportunity for him to learn how to take care of his own food needs (sounds like he's old enough that that would be a good thing to know how to do, regardless of where he is). I travel a lot to obscure places without access to kitchens and manage to stay gluten, dairy and soy-free. It's a great skill to learn and this might help him start to learn it. He can always have his own back-up food in his suitcase just to be safe.

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The group itself is not the problem -- he's belonged to this youth group for 2 years, his friends are all part of it and our home church does not have a youth group. So I'm fine there, but the whole "pick up something to eat" part bugs me. I'm often overly cautious so I'm just checking! Seriously, how often do we go into a store and there's little to eat? For my kid with braces. Who may, or may not, have anyplace to cook. And if he does, we've no way to know if the utensils, etc.. are useable.

Even typing this, I'm thinking "no way..no way"

Ohyes to the mom as bad guy! Haven't we all been there?!

You're thinking of food, I get it.

But what your son needs to understand is that the locals (except those who are in the building trades) are INSIDE by the end of May during the day. We hear news reports daily that time of year about CareFlights for tourists stuck on the side of a mountain, or on a hike, dehydrated and burnt to a crisp.

You can't just land in the Sonoran Desert and work outside for 3-4 days without dehydration and sunburns. It takes more than a year to acclimate.

It's tough on a person who is ok in the sun. For someone who must limit sunlight it's impossible.

It's asinine to plan a trip out here that time of year, if the intent is to work outside (unless you're arriving acclimated from another desert). If they are working inside, that's another story (although I'd want to know if the place where they are working has a/c - if it's on a res it may not).

I've seen people of all ages and health ranges get heat stroke doing minimal work outside that time of year....it's bad. It even happens to locals who just aren't thinking...

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It's asinine to plan a trip out here that time of year, if the intent is to work outside (unless you're arriving acclimated from another desert). If they are working inside, that's another story (although I'd want to know if the place where they are working has a/c - if it's on a res it may not).

I've seen people of all ages and health ranges get heat stroke doing minimal work outside that time of year....it's bad. It even happens to locals who just aren't thinking...

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And BTW his best bet at a "regular" grocery store around Phoenix after 9 pm is a Fry's Marketplace (a BIG one).

They usually have a big natural foods section with lots of gluten-free options. Safeway has started labeling some foods as "gluten-free" with a sticker on the shelf underneath. Fry's does the same, just more of them.

I THINK Basha's has a new line of gluten-free products but I don't know if they're as common as Fry's or Safeway.

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He's almost 18. He's going to be making his own decisions before you know it. This is a chance for him to practice.

If you come at it from a "no way" perspective, thinking of all the risks, you can guarantee he won't learn the lessons he needs to learn from it and it will be a power struggle that drives you apart and makes him feel he needs to tough it out and keep it from you if he realizes he was wrong.

I'd wrap my head around the fact that this is something he wants to do and is capable of figuring out. Then I'd tell him that, and make sitting down with you or another informed, experienced person to think about potential problems and their solutions a requirement of going. I would require him to write up his plan and submit it to me for review before signing off on it.

If you see he's missed potential issues, you can make notes on the plan and ask him to address them before you can sign it. I bet he'll come up with more than you think.

His solutions don't have to be perfect. They have to account for potentials that could kill him or make him extremely ill. Life is full of risk. It's our job as parents to make sure our kids get a chance to take their own risks and learn to deal with their own emergencies and failures before they are truly on their own.

In the context of a youth group with some adults and access to transportation I think it's a good way to give him a chance to learn those lessons.

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As for food, he can bring or buy a camp stove and money for food, and he can pack some food in his luggage. Make sure he knows how to cook real food - vegetables, meats. He may be in a poor area, but hopefully they have access to vegetables and meats. That's about all our family eats and it is the healthiest food anyway. You could have him do some research on the availability of food in the area.

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Wait - this is for June? I think his plan needs to include researching weather patterns for the place he will be going.

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He's almost 18. He's going to be making his own decisions before you know it. This is a chance for him to practice.

Actually, he is 18 already. And already making decisions and managing his healthcare, with varied results and competency. I appreciate more than I can say that if we dropped dead tomorrow, he needs to be able to care for himself, by himself.

I'd wrap my head around the fact that this is something he wants to do and is capable of figuring out. Then I'd tell him that, and make sitting down with you or another informed, experienced person to think about potential problems and their solutions a requirement of going. I would require him to write up his plan and submit it to me for review before signing off on it.

That's how he went on the beach trip last year, doing exactly that. And the problem here is that there are many potential problems that are outside his control or mine to plan or sign off. (You do know that you sound pretty darn judgemental, right? We don't keep him locked in a closet :))

His solutions don't have to be perfect. They have to account for potentials that could kill him or make him extremely ill. Life is full of risk.

The potentials to kill him or make him extremely ill are present in the sunshine, and the reliability of a young man to wear spf bazillion sunscreen and stay out of the sunshine in Arizona when there is no one present but a bunch of friends and miles of desert. So I am simply weighing whether that is a risk worth taking, or not. I agree that a ship is not meant to stay at harbor.

In the context of a youth group with some adults and access to transportation I think it's a good way to give him a chance to learn those lessons.

Some adults who already are skeptical about the need for any "special treatment", and we don't know much about transportation, or where they will be or what they will be doing, or access to food. They admit that they will deal with that when they get there. Believe me, if this were a "we're staying HERE, working HERE, food provided HERE by THIS MEANS" I would be ready to let him go and swallow my worry. But those are answers that will not be provided until he is actually on site. We know where he is staying, but not where the day will be spent. "Hopefully" having access to whole foods is just not good enough, and asking him to live on food packed in his luggage and palatable in 105 weather -- because there's no guarantee there's any cooking facility, since they don't know where they'll be most of the day -- makes me unhappy. So I struggle along :)

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You and hubby will make yourselves sick (literally) with worry over this one. Maybe he and his girlfriend can make an alternative trip ? He'll have someone who cares about him traveling with him and they can take responsibility for plans, research, food requirements & shopping etc. As long as they go somewhere safe (in all respects) then perhaps you (and his girlfriends parents/guardians) can trust them to travel without other adults to supervise??

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I get that you have very valid reasons to be concerned about the trip and not want him to go. I am sorry that I may have given the impression that it seemed you hadn't raised him to be a competent person who could handle himself. That was not my intention or my perception.

From your original post, I had the impression that you were debating whether to "allow" him to take the trip or not. My post was a response to that... and aimed at giving you ideas for ways to make this squarely his decision while making sure he thoroughly looked at the issues for himself. It may be that if he really analyzed the situation he would come to the same conclusions you have about the trip.

It sounds like you have used the same techniques in the past, but this time your concerns are greater than before. I can see why you would be very concerned and contrary to your impression, I *don't* judge you for that.

I still think it's his decision to make, and the consequences of his decision are his to handle.

That's how he went on the beach trip last year, doing exactly that. And the problem here is that there are many potential problems that are outside his control or mine to plan or sign off. (You do know that you sound pretty darn judgemental, right? We don't keep him locked in a closet :))

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