What is wrong with our society today? Why aren’t we teaching our young people better manners than high school grads demonstrate at their weekend camping parties?
Since Victoria Day headline after newspaper headline displays the poor judgement of today’s grads: from the Agassiz Observer of May 23 – “Campers leave massive mess at Wood Lake”, a wilderness lake 15 km up the west side of Harrison Lake. And a photo, large as life with only the odour missing, of mess strewn about – a tent still set up, at least 19 filled black garbage bags plus loose garbage flung about the site as though by a twister.
“Albertans Help Clean Up B.C. Forest Filth after May Long Weekend”, reads a headline in the Calgary Sun of May 20. The article reports volunteers loading an industrial trash bin and multiple pickup trucks with garbage and abandoned camping equipment left behind at Lake Koocanusa south of Fernie. Evidence was found of hacked-down trees and fully-burning campfires. Young adults had been witnessed digging a hole and filling it with garbage. Several others had been seen disappearing down the bank to the water with bags of garbage and coming back empty handed.
What leads today’s grads to think trashing the environment is okay, even cool? That leaving behind a destructive footprint is the adult way to behave on crown land or any other shared public property?
Remember when at least some of these grads were ten-year-olds coming home from school excited about what they’d learned, that our streams are precious, that trees give us cleaner air to breathe, that Mom and Dad should be encouraged to recycle and reuse?
Remember the seven-year-old who stood back on the playground observing shenanigans he knew were wrong and had the confidence to declare, “We shouldn’t do that,” and walked away to amuse himself in a more acceptable way even if he had to do it alone?
Today’s grads are like sheep. Whatever stupidity the leader suggests, the others meekly mimic.
I can’t imagine in my youth coming home from an outing without the tent I left with. I’d have some tall explaining to do to my parents and some extra chores to compensate for having to buy a replacement tent. If they bought one.
The fact these grads shed themselves of personal belongings so blithely suggests their entitlement, that they are not held accountable by their parents; that their parents are well aware of their grads’ behaviour and expect nothing better. Today’s parents won’t even be embarrassed if the names of their grads hit Facebook for the world to know how outrageously they misbehaved.
After the Vancouver hockey riot of 2011 where police (and employers) tracked instigators on Facebook and many rioters lost their jobs, I would expect today’s grads would mind their manners. How many might lose an opportunity for a summer job at the local supermarket or Canadian Tire if their name and photo shows up on Facebook as someone who participated in weekend mayhem?
Starting in 2009 Alberta took a tougher stance with those who would make a landfill out of Crown land camping areas. That drove Albertans into B.C. as though we don’t have enough home grown campsite destructors.
Heath Slee, the East Kootenay regional district director for the Fernie area, told the Calgary Sun reporter, “We have to emulate the rules they have in Alberta, or at least have in place a permit and fee, to pay for rehabilitating the site afterwards.”
If in future years today’s grads find themselves shut out from Crown land or having to buy permits and pay fees, they will have only themselves to blame.