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Drug Use at Summer Camp

dopey

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What do you think of this letter (slightly modified) just received:
Dear parents,

When an event occurs at camp that might affect your children’s well-being, it is my responsibility to let you know about it. This morning I fired _____ for smoking marijuana. The counselors know that they are not allowed to take any drugs while employed at camp and this includes on their day off. We do not want them coming back to camp impaired. ___ did smoke on her day off and through random drug testing she tested positive and therefore was fired.

We have a zero tolerance policy for the use of drugs or alcohol for our staff and campers. The counselors are aware of this and their contract states that if they are caught using or in possession of these substances they will be fired. Furthermore, when counselors sign their contracts they understand that they will be drug tested over the course of the summer to maintain and enforce this important policy.

_____ was a dedicated counselor who has been at camp for 10 years as a camper and counselor; she loves your kids and we recognize this, but the safety of your children is paramount. ___ was in bunk x but I felt it was important for all the division's girls' parents to hear this because they are all so close. There remains 2 counselors in that bunk and the division head ____ so there is plenty of supervision.
This has happened in the past and I think the counselor had been rehired the next year (not necessarily the one who was the subject of this letter). Some parents of counselors have complained that the rule is too harsh and their kids are getting tarred with a black mark.
 
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zarathustra

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What do you think of this letter (slightly modified) just received:
This has happened in the past and I think the counselor had been rehired the next year (not necessarily the one who was the subject of this letter). Some parents of counselors have complained that the rule is too harsh and their kids are getting tarred with a black mark.

I think this letter subjects the camp to potential liability. There is no need to explain why a person is let go, particularly in this instance where nothing was done to jeopardize the well being of the children.

All that needed to be said was:

Dear parents,

This morning x and the camp parted ways. We are unable to comment on the circumstances surrounding her departure for various legal reasons, but we assure you at no point was the safety of any child compromised. ___ was in bunk x. There remains 2 counselors in that bunk and the division head ____ so there remains plenty of supervision.

Please understand that we cannot discuss the particulars of this, but felt it necessary to inform you in the change of circumstances and assure you that your child's safety and well being is of the utmost concern here.
 

Douglas

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Truth is an absolute defense against defamation, so if someone complained about a "black mark" the case would get tossed on the presentation of a positive drug test.

I think the liability would be greater if something happened to a kid in the camp and it was found that counselors were failing drug tests and being quietly shown the door without notifying parents. Catholic church might be an interesting parallel.

Rules are rules, the counselors know them, if they want to smoke out they should find another job.
 

dopey

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lol Just checked her twitter feed. Lots of RTs from Classy Stoner @ClassyWeed. Also from Life as a Stoner @LifeAsStoner. Smart girl. Way to get sympathy over the injustice of it all. Surprised the camp didn't bother to check first.
At least her last tweet was "the things id do to rewind"
Wisdom comes, even if it comes late.
 

Douglas

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I would have left out the name of the particular counselor that was fired from the group email (though I would have said who is still in the bunk).

yes, this would probably be more prudent, you're right. I guess it didn't register as strongly for me given that you had already edited out the name, so it didn't stand out for me.
 

gomestar

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there is a reason why my actual name is not part of my twitter feed and it's not connected to Facebook in any way.

no stoner stuff though
 
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globetrotter

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if they had sent out an email and said ";so and so was caught smoking pot on camp, so we had to shoot her, sorry for the inconvenience" it wouldn't bother me.


she's been working there for 10 years, which means she's at least 26-27, she should know better. I hate the idea that everyone under the age of 40 should be indulged in their shit because they are kids. she knew the rules, she broke them. she is a role model for kids. I don't need my kids coming home from camp with a stoner hero.


honestly, not a whole lot against drugs, if this was an office worker in a business without a drug policy, I'd say she has every right to do what ever she wants in her off time.
 

dopey

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She hadn't been working there for ten years. She had been there as a camper and counselor for ten years (combined). She is probably nineteen or so - i.e., just finished her freshman or sophomore year at college (that is typical for camp counselors and how old I was when I did it). Either way, I agree she should have been more responsible. But if you look at her twitter feed, it would be hard not to see this coming - half the posts are about weed.
 
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globetrotter

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also, my son goes to a jewish camp, about 1/3 of the kids from my synagogue go to that camp, to some extent or another. maybe 1/3 of those end up counselors. every one of the pros in my synagogue (2 rabbis, cantor, head of education, a few teachers) spend part of the summer at that camp. maybe 5 other adults in the community have a work/business connection with the camp.


if somebody suddenly disappeared from camp, you can bet your ass it would be a huge topic of discussion. whether she "resigned" in the middle of the summer or was fired. if it was a counselor related to my son, my wife would call the head of the camp, probably, or we'd ask him at the high holidays. I'd say that this was probably a preemptive thing, so avoid discussion. also, if this were my camp, the social shame element would be so draconian that it would probably result in a drug free camp for a few years
 

globetrotter

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She hadn't been working there for ten years. She had been there as a camper and counselor for ten years (combined). She is probably nineteen or so - i.e., just finished her freshman or sophomore year at college (that is typical for camp counselors and how old I was when I did it). Either way, I agree she should have been more responsible. But if you look at her twitter feed, it would be hard not to see this coming - half the posts are about weed.

my bad.

that does suck, but my position stands.
 

zarathustra

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Truth is an absolute defense against defamation, so if someone complained about a "black mark" the case would get tossed on the presentation of a positive drug test.

I think the liability would be greater if something happened to a kid in the camp and it was found that counselors were failing drug tests and being quietly shown the door without notifying parents. Catholic church might be an interesting parallel.

Rules are rules, the counselors know them, if they want to smoke out they should find another job.

It isn't just defamation. Every employer knows you do not comment on personnel issues publicly.

You also miss the bigger picture. Even if the camp did not actually violate any laws or actually incur any liability this letter, doing this in this manner opened them selves up to litigation. Whether they win or lose is irrelevant--- they still have to pay the attorneys.
 

Douglas

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I am an employer, and we are being sued over a termination, so I am acutely, even painfully aware of the pitfalls of talking about personnel issues. Even when there is little or no case, and you have to pay the attorneys.

But in some cases, you have to talk about it. Particularly when the other choice (not talking about it) may also open you up to litigation. As in the scenario I proposed - if something happens to a kid and it comes out that the camp has been "covering up drug use at the camp ZOMG!" there's a risk to NOT being forthright.

I'll grant that naming the employee was not smooth - I've already conceded as much.

Bottom line: there's practically no way a 19-year-old potsmoker or their parents is going to bring a suit over this, so we're splitting hairs to begin with. What are the damages? A few weeks of summer pay? As we're talking about a summer camp, the naivety of whoever sent the letter is pretty understandable/excusable.

This is not a big deal.
 

zarathustra

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Truth is an absolute defense against defamation, so if someone complained about a "black mark" the case would get tossed on the presentation of a positive drug test.

I think the liability would be greater if something happened to a kid in the camp and it was found that counselors were failing drug tests and being quietly shown the door without notifying parents. Catholic church might be an interesting parallel.

Rules are rules, the counselors know them, if they want to smoke out they should find another job.


I would have left out the name of the particular counselor that was fired from the group email (though I would have said who is still in the bunk).


She hadn't been working there for ten years. She had been there as a camper and counselor for ten years (combined). She is probably nineteen or so - i.e., just finished her freshman or sophomore year at college (that is typical for camp counselors and how old I was when I did it). Either way, I agree she should have been more responsible. But if you look at her twitter feed, it would be hard not to see this coming - half the posts are about weed.


I am an employer, and we are being sued over a termination, so I am acutely, even painfully aware of the pitfalls of talking about personnel issues. Even when there is little or no case, and you have to pay the attorneys.

But in some cases, you have to talk about it. Particularly when the other choice (not talking about it) may also open you up to litigation. As in the scenario I proposed - if something happens to a kid and it comes out that the camp has been "covering up drug use at the camp ZOMG!" there's a risk to NOT being forthright.

I'll grant that naming the employee was not smooth - I've already conceded as much.

Bottom line: there's practically no way a 19-year-old potsmoker or their parents is going to bring a suit over this, so we're splitting hairs to begin with. What are the damages? A few weeks of summer pay? As we're talking about a summer camp, the naivety of whoever sent the letter is pretty understandable/excusable.

This is not a big deal.

Under your scenario, I do not see how you make the logical leap to a cover-up. It is only a cover-up if there is knowledge and no immediate action is taken. Here an employee was fired for cause immediately after the camp was advised of such cause. No cover up by not discussing personnel issues, particularly when they are saying it was during off hours. There is absolutely no benefit to disclosing this-- you have now given ammunition to any plaintiffs' attorney. Any plaintiffs lawyer worth their salt will be able to turn this into a cover-up at a den of iniquity.

My point is that nothing is ever a big deal until it is. That is the problem. My former apartment building sent a letter like this about a doorman in the building. Guess who was not only back at his job back at his job a few months later, but also received a nice settlement? ( THANKS UNION ATTYS!!!) It is always the situations where you think nothing will happen, that it does IME.
 

Harold falcon

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There are people who don't smoke weed at camp?
 

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