So…I allowed Karis to go to the Pemberton Music Festival without me. Not that I would EVER go to anything like that as I am unwilling to put up with hardship for any music by any band ever, but I did have a clever friend who allowed her child to attend provided they stay at the family home in Whistler. She sold the girls on the idea of clean, cool beds; electricity, running water, toilets and food; and the ability to have a good night’s sleep before heading out to do it all over again the next day. She was within a reasonable distance should anything go wrong and also saw them daily to make sure nothing was going wrong that they weren’t telling her about (they are teenagers after all). She wouldn’t have allowed them to camp anyway but I’m not completely sure the girls knew that. Like I said, clever. Admirably so. Sadly, I don’t currently have a home in Whistler and didn’t actually think of this in time to rent one…perhaps next year if they attend this heinous event again.
So, my first and only child set off with two friends on Thursday morning at 5am. And yes, they can now drive themselves which is another worry entirely. The previous few days were busy with trips to the store to get various supplies and foodstuffs, doing laundry, borrowing camping items and packing. Karis was a lot more interested in selecting her ‘music festival’ wardrobe and getting stick-on tattoos, glow-sticks and coconut water than the wet wipes, Vitamin C/Immune support tablets, LED lanterns and bug repellent that I thought would be useful and practical.
The three girls had a tent, foamies and sleeping bags; a couple of coolers and food and beverages; water bottles and towels. I heard there was food for purchase so I wasn’t overly worried as I figured she could buy food with cash or using her ATM card. They were lectured on the importance of staying hydrated, using sunscreen, wearing a hat and trying to get some sleep. They were also instructed that they MUST contact us in the morning and evening when they were back in the tent. No exceptions or excuses as one ‘team member’ had a portable charger so they could ALWAYS be reached. We told them we expected them to behave like Navy Seals…”No man left behind.” Ever. For any reason.
It appears that a good portion of the population of not only their high school, but the North shore in general were at the festival. I did have a couple of ‘boots on the ground’ as well–the aforementioned Clever Mum; a young lady I’ve known for years who has just graduated university and several of the security staff. Not that ANY of this made it any easier being at home and not actually knowing too much about what was going on. I think the growing up thing is a process for both parents and teens. I was unsettled the entire weekend. Karis told me, when she returned home, that she would not allow her children to attend until they were older. Nice. Thanks honey.
I don’t envy the festival organizers. It’s an enormous amount of people to manage and they did have some great ideas in theory that did not withstand the rigours of reality and 30+ degree heat every day. They did provide garbage and recycling though I’ve heard mixed reviews about the availability. I also heard they were charging $4 for garbage bags at the end which seems so counter-intuitive that I can’t even comment. There were some logistical issues though. For instance, the parking lot for the general campers (read the plebs) was over an HOUR’s (apparently 2km) walk in 32+ degree weather. There were golf carts everywhere but not available to help people with their gear. Why wouldn’t they offer rides for $2, particularly in the heat? Another rule that I understand logistically but feel is unfair, is the parking hostage situation. You are not allowed in or out of the parking lot once you arrive so, You can visit your car and get things from it but you can’t move it or sleep in it, making you essentially a captive in a large hot field for 4-6 days.
In this large hot field (cleverly marketed as the ‘festival grounds’) organizers provide showers, cooling stations, food, phone charging stations and FREE water! What they neglect to tell you is that it is easily a 2 HOUR+ wait for a shower (costing $5); over 2 hours to charge your phone (and often longer as the chargers aren’t available and you can’t bring your own; and up to an HOUR at the water stations which are blessedly free if you live long enough to reach them. Basically you are waiting for pretty much everything and in the blazing heat with no shade. One of Karis’s friends got heat exhaustion…fever and shakes. The only alternative is the Alouette River though festival goes are “highly discouraged” from going because it is fast moving and dangerous, and I suspect also because it’s free. Karis and her friends made the 40-minute trek to try and cool off and escape the heat and dust for a while.
The cost of food is a complete gouge job ($8 for 2 sliders, $10 for a burger, $8 for a cup of lemonade–no alcohol, just lemonade); which is in incredibly poor taste considering many of the attendees are young people who have likely spent most of their money on the ticket. As I mentioned before, the hour plus walk from the car to the campground makes the idea of carrying coolers full of food impractical and unappealing. The parking lot hostage situation prevents you from driving to Whistler or Pemberton to re-stock and you are not able to leave the parking lot and re-enter. Karis and her friends did leave the parking lot to go to Whistler for food and medication. They were denied re-entry but went in through an unattended exit. If that hadn’t happened they would be in a pickle as any cars that are parked anywhere near the festival are towed and it’s $500 to retrieve them.
The pictures of the grounds on the news now show it absolutely chock-a-block with abandoned items and garbage. I suspect many people simply bring tents, coolers and sleeping bags that they are happy to leave behind, perhaps from yard sales or something. I do feel for them as the last thing I’d want to do is hike BACK to the car in the heat after 4-6 days of hell; however, it’s no excuse for that mess.
I think the festival needs to step it up a bit here as they did have many good ideas in theory but not in practice as there were simply not enough facilities for the amount of people. More water stations. More chargers. Cheaper food choices. They DO have shuttles and golf-carts on site for the VIP campers and the shuttle bus pass holders. Perhaps they could consider offering rides between the parking lot and campground for $2 to help move stuff? Perhaps they could have festival volunteers walking the campgrounds on the last days and finding out who is planning on leaving tents, coolers or sleeping bags and tagging them to be picked up and donated to a homeless charity or re-sold as they are now doing for university dorm furniture (http://www.postlandfill.org/new-campus-program-trash-treasure-tulane-university/). Perhaps they could hand out free garbage bags (and not CHARGE $4) and offer anyone with a filled bag a ride to their car or pay them $5 (cheaper than $80 per ticket for clean-up). Just a few tweaks could make it a lot better. Just sayin’.
In terms of my child, yes, she’s growing up and probably learned a lot from the experience. She survived, as did everyone else’s children. I try daily to NOT be the dreaded ‘helicopter parent’ dooming my child to a life bereft of coping skills and an almost certain outcome of anxiety, depression and failure but some days it’s harder than others as life just seems a lot harder than it was when I was young…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nation-wimps/201401/helicopter-parenting-its-worse-you-think