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holyminnow
04-10-2011, 14:47
Anyone know of any laws preventing teens from being on the trail alone? I have 2 teens out there now, ages 14 and 17 (he'll be 18 in 5 weeks) and apparently a sheriff and park ranger are looking for them. They passed the word with other hikers and said something about "unaccompanied minors". Our kids have calling cards with their blog info and parental contact that they are handing out. We've had other section and day hikers contact us, send us photos and updates. But apparently someone checked out their blog and saw their ages and contacted authorities. Any suggestions?

mweinstone
04-10-2011, 14:50
no one can help you here cause you might be the minors posting. and runnaways. or worse. sorry. im sure you can see that.

The Counselor
04-10-2011, 14:59
Worse he could be a Navy Seal. You are a little much.

holyminnow
04-10-2011, 15:03
Are you the moderator? And I am the parent. I thought WhiteBlaze would be a safe place to ask this question. Thanks for your help.

holyminnow
04-10-2011, 15:05
I agree,someone should be able to offer something constructive.

scudder
04-10-2011, 15:06
If they were my kids and I received this sort of info, I think i'd get proactive and call said ranger or sheriff hq and try to get the story directly. I'm sure appropriate action can be taken. Not a lawyer, but there are provisions for emancipation of minors which i'd guess vary from state to state.

WingedMonkey
04-10-2011, 15:08
Which park? Which sheriff or county? What kind of or duration of hike?

kanga
04-10-2011, 15:11
he's not the moderator, he's just the resident nut-nut. i agree with scudder, i would contact the rangers myself and talk to them. i do not know what the rules are though. i used to hike that AT regularly as a teen and i never had an issue.

Rain Man
04-10-2011, 15:14
I sent a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old to Argentina and Panama, respectively, each for a year. I must be an awful parent!

(Of course, they were with AFS, the oldest and bestest exchange student program, approved by the US State Dept and the foreign governments too, and living with vetted families and with regularly contacts with official liaisons.)

What about contacting the ATC and see what they have to say about your question? I imagine they've had many, many teenagers hiking the trail in past years.

Seems to me (absent more information, such as why they aren't in school) a sad case of busy-bodies who believe the only good parenting is "helicopter" parenting, which I happen to think is among the worst parenting.

Here's hoping your kids are having a great hike and the time of their lives (as long as the sheriff isn't looking for them for other reasons).

Rain:sunMan

.

holyminnow
04-10-2011, 15:20
They are headed towards Fontana Dam today. And they are planning a thru-hike.

Enic
04-10-2011, 15:23
I don't think it will be as easy to get an answer as you think. Kind of like asking if you can carry a firearm or six inch knife on the trail. The trail is still under the law of local, state, and federal rule... depending on where your teens are hiking. I have no problem with a responsible young backpacker, who is experienced, being out without parental supervision. That said, a sheriff, or local children services advocate could consider it neglect if the teens are not adequatley outfitted or mentally prepared for a hike without a adult supervisor. Good luck. I hope everything turns out good for you, and their trip.

Creepwood
04-10-2011, 15:24
I checked the ATC website and didn't see any mention of policy regarding minors. Did a little googling after that and still didn't come up with anything. I think your best bet is to figure out what park they are in and find the website and start looking around. Personally I don't see any harm in it. I hope your kids are having fun, this will just add to the thrill i'm sure.

I hope I don't get black flagged for helping you......tehehe

holyminnow
04-10-2011, 15:29
My kids have camped and hiked for years. This is their first backpacking experience but they have first aid training, wilderness survival training, and are really responsible. They are both Boy Scouts, the older one is in Civil Air Patrol and he's also a lifeguard. They are home schooled so their school requirements are being met as well. I'm hoping this is just a case of nosy people! They are so psyched to be out there. They are fully outfitted and financed by their loving family back home. Check out their blog at hikingitat.blogspot.com

holyminnow
04-10-2011, 15:33
I called the ATC and left a message for them asking if there were any restrictions. I suppose this will make for some interesting trail journals!

WingedMonkey
04-10-2011, 15:35
They are headed towards Fontana Dam today. And they are planning a thru-hike.

You can't blame law enforcement for thinking teens, especialy a 14 y/o are AWOL if it's during a school season with out adults. I would suggest some sort of legal documents that can be easily checked showing they are under your supervision and permission.
They will probably still be stopped and it will be a matter of how easy it is to be checked and cleared and on their way.
Like others have said state parks and local counties may have some rules of their own. It couldn't hurt to be polite to the law and to adults asking them the same damn questins over and over.
There was a 17 year old going on 18 few years ago, but 14 is new territory.

Feral Bill
04-10-2011, 16:00
Try and get some documentation regarding your permission for them to be out and their home schooling status to the boys, with contact information. For fun, look up threads about fully independent adults who's parents are trying to keep them off the trail because they'll be murdered and/or eaten by bears. Best of luck to your kids.

FB

kayak karl
04-10-2011, 16:04
when they hit fontana and need to fill out there permit, they will need to be 18 to do that. they can lie though.
what incident started this? just a blog? what state do you live in? that will help with how much of this falls back on you all.

GoldenBear
04-10-2011, 17:00
Specifically

http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/child-abandonment/

"A person commits the offense of child abandonment when he or she, as a parent, guardian, or other person having physical custody or control of a child, without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that child, knowingly leaves that child who is under the age of 13 without supervision by a responsible person over the age of 14 for a period of 24 hours or more"

Since the children are over the age of 13, "abandonment" does not seem to be an issue.

http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/define.cfm

"Neglect is frequently defined as the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision such that the child's health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm"

The law, as you can see, is ambiguous, and intentionally so; because each case has to be handled individually. A parent, for instance, can NOT drop off fourteen year old children at a trail head with sleeping bags and some food, drive away, and then claim, "I fully provided the children with all their needed food, shelter, and supervision -- if they can't survive on a wilderness trail, that's not MY problem!" Whether or not you are fulfilling your parental duties is NOT something that you can just claim out of thin air, this is something only the law can determine. The fact that sheriffs want to speak with the children is a GOOD sign, it means they are doing their jobs.

Will they conclude your children have been adequately provided with what they need for this situation? Can't say. Neither can anyone on this site without a LOT more info than you can actually provide. I suggest you consult an attorney specializing in family law.

holyminnow
04-10-2011, 17:06
There was no incident. Someone just learned their ages and I guess they are trying to "protect" my kids. Ugh. We live in Delaware.
Really- two teenagers staying out of trouble, setting big goal for themselves of thru-hiking the AT, and someone had to find something wrong with it. I don't mind that people don't agree with our parenting style and plans to send our kids on the AT, but really- contacting the authorities?? What are they going to do, drag my kids off the trail- well I suppose the boys wouldn't really mind that as long as a comfy mattress and some hearty food were included!!!!!
I'm not sure what Sheriff dept or Park Service is looking for them. Other hikers passed the info onto the boys after being questioned about the boys whereabouts. Apparently they haven't found them yet! In the event that they are "caught" we've told the boys to have the authorities contact us and to go without a fuss with them if need be. I would hate for their trip to be sidetracked. The older boy, Tom, turns 18 in May.

Penguin
04-10-2011, 17:08
Just don't even worry about it! No one is looking for them if they already are out of Park Service Jurisdiction. My best advice is to have the 17 yr old say he's 18 if any person asks, I mean ANY person. Then he would be the responsible adult. No law says that he needs to show ID to any rangers either. I don't think you will see any law enforcement on trail besides in a National Park anyway. No one will ever ask how old your sons. Just don't worry and live free. Besides in 5 weeks the 17 yr old will be 18 and can legally be responsible for his younger brother. I understand your distrust for the government, and fear that people will try to get you in trouble.

Tinker
04-10-2011, 17:11
In some states "children" can get legally married at 14, maybe younger. If your kids are capable hikers and properly equipped, I don't think it's anyone's business if you let them go hiking. I think that if you had tried to force them to hike they probably would have made their way to the nearest paved road and hitched a ride to a friend's house or run away.

Snowleopard
04-10-2011, 17:22
Just in case, add some more info and pictures about yourself (i.e., the parents) and about how you're doing their home schooling and perhaps add a nice family picture. The idea is to have the blog show that you're obviously involved and they're not runaways; then if they're questioned they can have the authorities look at the blog and then contact you.

They're not exactly little guys (6'2", 6'3"), so I don't think they're going to be bothered.

kayak karl
04-10-2011, 17:27
try contacting Kirby. i think he changed his trail name ??? but he was young and hiked.
somebody help me out with a link here:confused:

skooch
04-10-2011, 17:33
Just in case, add some more info and pictures about yourself (i.e., the parents) and about how you're doing their home schooling and perhaps add a nice family picture. The idea is to have the blog show that you're obviously involved and they're not runaways; then if they're questioned they can have the authorities look at the blog and then contact you.

They're not exactly little guys (6'2", 6'3"), so I don't think they're going to be bothered.

More info is a great idea. The more the better. These boys sound great and more parents should let their kids explore like our generation did.

WingedMonkey
04-10-2011, 17:48
try contacting Kirby. i think he changed his trail name ??? but he was young and hiked.
somebody help me out with a link here:confused:

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=71061&highlight=kirby

mweinstone
04-10-2011, 20:07
Just don't even worry about it! No one is looking for them if they already are out of Park Service Jurisdiction. My best advice is to have the 17 yr old say he's 18 if any person asks, I mean ANY person. Then he would be the responsible adult. No law says that he needs to show ID to any rangers either. I don't think you will see any law enforcement on trail besides in a National Park anyway. No one will ever ask how old your sons. Just don't worry and live free. Besides in 5 weeks the 17 yr old will be 18 and can legally be responsible for his younger brother. I understand your distrust for the government, and fear that people will try to get you in trouble.

actually the truth allways works best. no ones gonna bother them if they can easily confirm they have permmision. and no leo is going to need to make calls or drag anyone anywhere. there thruhikers now. they have the community of us to back them. leo's are very keen to smell truth. and homescooled young hikers with family concent and support are neither vagrent nor in danger.

A: im a parent of a 21 yr old.
B: i grew up hiking the AT alone for periods of up to a few weeks at 14 with a note from mom that said i had permission and a habbit of being pulled off the trail at towns and roads and held by leo's till they got frustrated trying to reach my p's in europe or greece and just belived me and let me go before dark.
C; in this day and age, your kids are fine.

LoneRidgeRunner
04-10-2011, 20:32
I'm no lawyer and have no idea about the "rules" but I think if responsible parents (you) deem their teenagers responsible, experienced and well enough equipped to go on an AT thru hike it should be between you and those young men. I don't feel it's any one's business to try and interfere. It could be much worse. They could be somewhere smoking crack instead of hiking, which is much healthier for them (hiking). Had I gotten into hiking at an earlier age maybe I wouldn't have had the serious drug problem I had in the 70's. I hope they get to complete their hike and have the time of their lives. The more power to you guys!

mweinstone
04-10-2011, 20:36
I'm no lawyer and have no idea about the "rules" but I think if responsible parents (you) deem their teenagers responsible, experienced and well enough equipped to go on an AT thru hike it should be between you and those young men. I don't feel it's any one's business to try and interfere. It could be much worse. They could be somewhere smoking crack instead of hiking, which is much healthier for them (hiking). Had I gotten into hiking at an earlier age maybe I wouldn't have had the serious drug problem I had in the 70's. I hope they get to complete their hike and have the time of their lives. The more power to you guys!

absofrigginlootly!

LoneRidgeRunner
04-10-2011, 20:42
absofrigginlootly!

The English language now has a new word... courtesy of Matty...."absofrigginlootly".. I like that one... :D

SassyWindsor
04-10-2011, 20:48
Shouldn't the kids, at least the younger one, be in school? Maybe home schooled?

SassyWindsor
04-10-2011, 20:55
Maybe a truancy law violation?

Jersey Tim
04-10-2011, 21:13
Maybe a truancy law violation?
That would be my biggest concern. In many places, the police have the authority to detain minors who are out and about during school hours. (New Jersey is one; they're pushing for laws to raise the fines levied against parents of class-cutters, too.) You sound responsible enough to have made some sort of arrangement, either home-schooling or an excused absence from regular school, so hopefully the boys are carrying something to document that.

WingedMonkey
04-10-2011, 21:54
They are home schooled so their school requirements are being met as well.

She has covered that.

holyminnow
04-10-2011, 21:55
We've homeschooled for over 12 years now. Tom is a junior in high school and Ben is a freshman. This hike has been part of our school program for the year, and since we home school year round, they aren't technically missing any school- especially since we put in way more than the required 180 days every year. This is hands on learning at it's finest! But no, they aren't carrying any documents other than a driver's license, a military dependent I.D. card and their health insurance I.D. cards. I'm thinking we should probably send them a permission slip that's been notarized so that if they are stopped in the future it won't be a problem. We'll take care of that tomorrow.

This isn't the first kid we put on the trail either. Our eldest son spent a month on the trail between Front Royal, VA and Slatington, Pa. His trail name was "Drop Off" and he hiked from May-June 2009. But he was 17 1/2 and wasn't thru-hiking. It was part of our tough love program for him as he was having a difficult teen phase. When he came back from the trail he completed his school requirements and graduated from our home school program in July 2009.

singing wind
04-10-2011, 22:46
All the best to your boys on their hike - I hope they have the time of their lives and meet lots of wonderful people along the way.

Sorry to hear of your current challenges, however their homeschooled 'book learning' is undoubtedly being supplemented with some brilliant practical experience! And good on ya for supporting them. Some of the neatest young people I've ever met have been home schooled. All the best to you too.

SassyWindsor
04-11-2011, 01:30
Eagle Scout fined for Mount Washington rescue

http://www.wickedlocal.com/plympton/news/x631635939/Eagle-Scout-fined-for-Mount-Washington-rescue#axzz1JBnTqFIi


I wonder if the gov can go after the parents on this 17 year olds rescue bill? Has anyone heard more about the outcome?

Could the parents in either case be held negligent?

tuswm
04-11-2011, 01:55
When I was in 7th or 8th grade I was out with a friend over night and someone thought they needed to take it on to them self to call the cops on us. The cops actually came out and found us at like 2 or 4 AM. When the cops asked if our parents knew we were out and we said yes.... they did NOT believe us.... so they radioed to have base contact my mother. Apparently she asked what we were doing wrong. But as soon as the cops found out that our parents knew where we were they left. That was the end of it. This was also before the time of cell phones. I done know if this helps or how it usually works but good luck.

tuswm
04-11-2011, 01:56
I think this has to do more with the over use of emergency services like 911 and SPOT.....than it does with you doing anything wrong.

PennyPincher
04-11-2011, 07:58
I think this has to do with people who can't/won't mind their own freaking business and thinking the .gov has the right to control every aspect of our lives! Busy bodies should leave other people alone and mind their own business.

mweinstone
04-11-2011, 08:04
cammo jacks other tralname is wordboy, and his #1 cleshay overused word of choice is absofrikkinlootly. i cannot take credit .

the boys will be fine. the hiking class keeps a special eye on our youngins. you sound like dream parents. i had to beg for permission to hike alone at 14, then after being refused, i had to run away several times to win the battle, then live with people who scoffed at hiking for being exspensive. got in tons of trouble when i bought a lowe pack . why did i need a 300$ backpack unless i was going to everest? why dont you join a hiking group and meet others like yourself? why dont you go to forrestry school? why dont you save your money and hike other trails in europe? how many times can you just hike pennsylvania? why do you need climbing gear. who told you you could drop out of school to hike? what the hell do you think your doing young man?!

off-pher
04-11-2011, 08:35
Shouldn't the kids, at least the younger one, be in school? Maybe home schooled?
do try to keep up THEY ARE HOME SCHOOLED!!!!!

kanga
04-11-2011, 08:54
she's too busy being a busy-body.

Majortrauma
04-11-2011, 09:08
"I think this has to do with people who can't/won't mind their own freaking business and thinking the .gov has the right to control every aspect of our lives! Busy bodies should leave other people alone and mind their own business."
Penny pincher hits the Jackpot!! I pray that Holyminnow cracks the code on this and can find a way to let her young men continue on their hike w/o this turning into a circus for them but I'm betting that enough busy bodies just won't be able to help themselves and will force them to carry an extra 5 lbs of legal documentation to prove they are not runaways or truants.

Blissful
04-11-2011, 09:15
We've homeschooled for over 12 years now. Tom is a junior in high school and Ben is a freshman. This hike has been part of our school program for the year, and since we home school year round, they aren't technically missing any school- especially since we put in way more than the required 180 days every year. This is hands on learning at it's finest! But no, they aren't carrying any documents other than a driver's license, a military dependent I.D. card and their health insurance I.D. cards. I'm thinking we should probably send them a permission slip that's been notarized so that if they are stopped in the future it won't be a problem. We'll take care of that tomorrow.

This isn't the first kid we put on the trail either. Our eldest son spent a month on the trail between Front Royal, VA and Slatington, Pa. His trail name was "Drop Off" and he hiked from May-June 2009. But he was 17 1/2 and wasn't thru-hiking. It was part of our tough love program for him as he was having a difficult teen phase. When he came back from the trail he completed his school requirements and graduated from our home school program in July 2009.

My son was home schooled and he and I hiked together the whole trail NOBO in '07 when he was 16. I had many out there ask why he wasn't in school but others who said it was the best education he could receive. But he did love it so much he had a tough time getting back into the swing of society and found it hard readjusting. He did graduate but is waiting on college and working right now and out on his own.

Amanita
04-11-2011, 11:47
I applaud you willingness to let your children go out on the AT without "Adult Supervision." Often young people are not given enough opportunities to make their own decisions, agenda, goals, ect.

Hiking the AT provides a social learning experience that absolutely is not available through homeschooling, or traditional schooling for that matter.

Our society is so busy "protecting" our youth that often they enter "adulthood" without the skills necessary to succeed. They forget that the difference between 17 and 18 is much smaller than the difference between immaturity and responsibility.

Jim Adams
04-11-2011, 18:45
I lived 185 miles from home when I was 16 years old working at a state park as a lifeguard. I had a great summer, learned independence, grew in maturity more than imagined possible, all with my parents moral support and had no problems.

Look at the past weekend...our government can't function on it's own but it wants to tell you how to raise your kids???????

No one elses business except the parents.

geek

holyminnow
04-12-2011, 01:00
So the boys made it to Fontana Dam with no further incidents. They resupplied and are happy that no one has "found" them at this time. Just sort of caused us some worry that their grand adventure could be side-tracked by busy bodies. Thanks for all the replies here at WhiteBlaze. It was nice to read all the different thoughts on this subject.

RGB
04-12-2011, 01:24
Sounds like a case of someone who thought they knew best, but in reality, should have minded their own damn business. Happens a lot in this world.

Rockhound
04-12-2011, 06:36
Parents should be able to decide if their children are responsible and mature enough to take on a trip like this on their own. I know of at least two 17 year olds who have thru-hiked by themselves. Sounds like authorities trying to bubble wrap the world again. Of course in 35 days you oldest will reach that arbitrary age of 18 and all this will be perfectly acceptable.
Of course as parents you should know better. Your children should be electronically tagged and monitored every second of every day you or their teachers are not right by their side holding their hands. and that should only be the short amount of time they are traveling to and from school. What kind of a parents are you? Do you really want your kids growing up to be independent, mature and responsible?

Rockhound
04-12-2011, 06:43
OMG I just read that they are homeschooled. How horrible. Don't you know that kids are much better off becoming institutionalized and being taught memorazation techniques allowing them to answer A,B,C or D correctly so your local public school can continue to get funding so they can keep spitting out more zombies into our society? Do you really want you kids to be able to think for themselves? Plus let's face it. Your kids are going to wind up ostrasized for being so much more intelligent than their peers.

Hikemor
04-12-2011, 08:02
Doesn't sound like the kids are doing anything illegal, immoral or unhealthy. Best thing is to get back in the woods and off the "grid". Local smokie won't wander too far from the squad car.

Kids may want to maintain a lower profile and stay off of social media. Keeps the keyboard do-gooders, who know what is best for everyone else, at bay.

WB make me grumpy this morning.

Papa D
04-12-2011, 08:18
I thru hiked solo ar 18 and know of several
Under 18 thru hikers - it depends on the
Individual kid and their comfort and respobsibility
level - and of course there is thankfully
no law to prevent them from hiking alone.
My guess is that they are fine.

Hoofit
04-12-2011, 08:41
Best of luck to your kids, Holy Minnow
The Trail will be an amazing education and I am sure that a lot of people will help them along - those young legs will surely be a plus up the hills!
I took off at 14 on my own and survived just fine - they have each other.
I applaud your openmindedness and faith in your kids.

paistes5
04-12-2011, 15:06
I think it's great that they're able to take this adventure. It will be something that is with them forever. Good for you to raise your kids the way YOU feel best, not everybody else. Look forward to reading their journal.

booney_1
04-12-2011, 15:16
I always thought that a great college program would be "semester on the AT". You see changes in flora with altitude and latitude. There is also plenty of time to write and reflect on your experience. You learn about your own limits and strengths, physical and mental. You would gain a connection to the physical world and learn a lot about yourself. Just the people you meet would be worth it. ....so how about AT-U!!

Wise Old Owl
04-12-2011, 17:42
Eagle Scout fined for Mount Washington rescue

http://www.wickedlocal.com/plympton/news/x631635939/Eagle-Scout-fined-for-Mount-Washington-rescue#axzz1JBnTqFIi


I wonder if the gov can go after the parents on this 17 year olds rescue bill? Has anyone heard more about the outcome?

Could the parents in either case be held negligent?

SW the Eagle Scout incident was a completely different set of circumstances. He didn't stay on the trail, When he sprained his ankle he kept going instead of going back the way he came... The fine was to defray the money to rescue him, in spite of his self rescue.

lillyfamily
04-12-2011, 18:29
Our kids did this as well many years ago (2001) but the older had graduated from college and was 22. They got grief from people (hikers especially) anyway, since the younger one was 12/13, but we had given the older one a in parentis loco form, stating that the he had the legal right to consent to medical care, etc. It does depend on the state laws, etc. It was a fantastic experience for both of them.

lillyfamily
04-12-2011, 18:36
Just read the homeschool part - I'm still getting grief about that and all five of our kids have gone on to college at Duke, Yale, UCLA and Berkeley. Two are in law school, one is finishing his PhD in Environmental Science and one already graduated from law school and business school at the University of Washington and is married and has two little ones. And a job! The youngest just turned 20 and hasn't decided exactly what she wants to do yet. I think the advice is good to avoid the online presence. Our kids stopped doing that during their hike and another did the same when she spent a year studying judo at the University of Tsukuba in Japan when she was 15/16. Too many online people we didn't know giving advice.

Desert Reprobate
04-12-2011, 18:57
Seems like they are doing well on the trail. I'm sure glad I don't have to buy their boots. Ignore the busy bodies. There are a lot of hikers on the trail around them so they aren't really alone. There have been several sets of underage kids through this year. Most of them seem more responsible than the older ones.