Normally, I come home from Festival full of ideas and enthusiasm. This year it's mostly outrage, determination to make sure it doesn't happen again and a bit of embarrassment.
Getting what happened written down will help.
When we signed in, we weren't reminded about an ID token for Rose and I forgot. There were several announcements about them and I made a note that I should do that but never got around to it. I was keeping a close eye on happenings at the children's fort because Rose can be crap with new children and I wanted to make sure she kept playing nicely. So I was there when a camp mate quietly walked up to R and asked to see his ID tag. She walked away with a purposeful stride and came back shortly with two constables (people who I normally respect the behaviour of). They stopped the joyous playing of the children, made them form lines and checked their ID tags and the presence of their supervising adult.
A brought Rose to me and asked me to get her an ID tag, we discussed the fact that troll hadn't provided one at signin but I agreed to go and get a tag for Rose while she kept playing. A told me, "you need to nominate a supervising adult", I replied that our camp was 30m away, Rose is 8 and I would be gone for only a short time. Rose was anxious to keep doing the awesome playing she'd been doing. A repeated, "you need to nominate a supervising adult" and I told her to "Fuck Off" and walked back to camp where I told mr-bassman to go and be a good parent because I was incapable of it. Rose tells me that she was told to go back to camp.
I'm embarrassed about losing my temper, but I'm also very angry that;
1. a person I consider R's close community didn't trust his mother to appropriately supervise him - in this case by making an arrangement for him to play at the fort with a large group of children
2. That the kid's happy playing was interrupted to apply a rule intended to be used when there is wrong-doing or a genuine emergency.
3. That the stewards/constables have judged my parenting to be inadequate.
4. That the power of the constables was misused and I wasn't able to do anything about it at the time
The similarity of the situation to apartheid or nazi like identity paper checks emphasised the power imbalance and made my emotional response much stronger than it should have been.
My inclination was to take the civil disobedience approach and keep supervising Rose at the fort from afar as I would normally do. But Aste is a better person than me (and had the resources to do it) and arranged for Tree to sit with the children at the fort, while we kept checking in with them.
BUT THEN THE FORT WAS RAIDED AGAIN!!!
On Monday there were fewer children at the fort and Tree was again sitting with them. A constable and the head steward raided the fort asking for supervising adults. Tree was deemed "too young" to be supervising them, and Aste was not quite in sight from camp at that moment (although Tree says she could see Aste, the Steward couldn't and didn't believe her) The kids were sent home again. When I arrived back at camp soon after, Rose greeted me angrily with, "they did it again!" and spent 5 minutes unable to do anything with her anger. I was impressed when she finally decided to go back to the fort - staging her own sit-in.
Finally, Aste was as annoyed as me and arranged to identify the constable involved and speak to her, and then we arranged to speak to the constable in charge. He arrived with the head steward and we had a thoroughly frustrating conversation based on our interpretations of civil law and what that meant we could do with our own children vs what the SCA thought we could do. It started being more fruitful when we focused on the behaviour of the constables and agreed that it was not OK to make children cry. During our conversation there was no way that the second supervision scenario, with Tree, was acceptable, but 5 min later, at court, the Steward appeared to have changed her mind and it was OK after all.
As this is my journal I get to lay blame on some early incidents - they're a bit gossip-y but indicate a bit of a culture around this stuff.
On Thursday night a Stormholder came to my camp and described an incident in which he found 3 young teenagers walking a track between the Tavern and their camp (although he didn't bother to find that out) at night (about 7pm). He came to discuss his outrage at this behaviour and I tried to suggest that there was really no problem. I found out later that he had told off these kids to the point where one was hysterical for the rest of the night and whose parents had referred the incident to the steward and asked for clarification of the site rules. I believe that's when the Steward came up with the 14year old supervision rules and requirement that under 14years olds stay in camp or with their parents. The teenagers in this incident were 13.
Last year after Festival there was a lot of gossip about some Stormhold children who were found in a campsite on their own during the day. The campsite belonged to friends of their parents, but the child free adults in this campsite were outraged and spent a lot of time decrying the supervision of these children and the abilities of their parents. I think these discussions have led to a bit of a culture of hyper vigilence about the supervision of these children which led directly to the "dobbing" that occurred at the children's fort on Sunday. This is an issue I need to stay alert for and say something when I see or hear it.
Since Festival, the Steward has posted 5 items as evidence for why the rules changed so much this year:
These three are all related to the changes for Working with Children Checks;http://www.kids.nsw.gov.au/Working-with-children/New-Working-with-Children-Check/New-Working-with-Children-Checkhttps://aifs.govspace.gov.au/2012/06/25/new-working-with-children-check-legislation-in-nsw/http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/nswbills.nsf/0/df79955e6bd3eabaca257a1b00208c26/$FILE/b2012-025-d15-House.pdf
and the last is the SCA policies;http://sca.org.au/board/documents/policy/child-protectionhttp://sca.org.au/board/documents/policy/background-check
Using those sources, I can't find any reference to children's ages, or a definition of what "supervision" is and, following the conversations online since, I'm a bit worried that everyone is going to focus on improving the communication of the rules - because that doesn't label someone wrong, and forget to make the rules work for the freedom of children.
The rules, as written by the Steward, with the benefit of hindsight were:
"children had to be line of site(sic) from a nominated care giver when around the site. Over 10's did not have to be tagged, under 10's did have to be tagged. Over 14's could roam during the day but not at night. Over 14's could not look after younger children. Children could go to the nearest privy themselves. "
I don't want to maintain line of sight supervision of my 8 year old, let alone my 13.5 year old!
My rules/guidelines would be:
All children to remain within the boundary of the main campsites, unless accompanied by an adult.
Children under 14 (I would prefer 13, but 14 seems to be OK with people) are expected to be in their campsites after 8pm/dark, unless with an adult approved by their parents.
Tagging children with identifying information, such as name, campsite and parents, is strongly encouraged and tags are available at the troll tent.
Children found wandering alone, away from the village green will be asked their business and may be asked to return to their campsites or the village green.
Children are expected to comply with the Code of Conduct for the SCA, and hurting people, theft or damaging equipment is not OK.
Children are expected to know where to find their caregivers and caregivers are expected to provide a level of supervision suitable for their child's age and maturity.
Now can I get on with the rest of the post Festival stuff?!!