Music Festivals: Preparing Our Kids, by Ellen Rosenberg

Outside Lands takes place this weekend in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. I haven’t attended, but it will be my youngest son’s second time. He’s a rising college sophomore. 


I’m a veteran of music festivals. I’ve chaperoned five groups of boys’ weekends at Coachella for my older two sons. One year I shut it down on Saturday and brought everyone home because I found prescription drugs and weed in my car. Not a popular decision, but the right one.  

I’ve had so many conversations with my boys about the importance of being safe and making good choices, consequences, and brain development. Much of it disregarded, but some of it seeps in. This year is different. Now we also talk about the importance of situational awareness.  

There were three mass shootings last week: Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. If you go by my house you’ll notice that our flag is at half-mast. To prepare for Outside Lands, 2019, we talk about visualizing entering the venue, observing the crowd, surveying the space for exits, identifying places to take cover, and developing a plan on how to behave and meet up with friends in case of an emergency.  

We have a despicable and tragic trend in America where people — mostly young, white males — feel so detached and desensitized that shooting living humans doesn’t register on the right vs. wrong scale. 

Consider how much stress and anxiety can be generated just going to campus, much less a music festival, in our age of school and public venue mass shootings.  How can we reduce that anxiety and potential exposure to hateful prose?  Be aware and involved in kids’ internet and social media consumption and presence. Not always easy but necessary. For now, embrace all kids, revisit priorities, and help them navigate life in the present reality.  I encourage you to check out the resources below to support you in that effort. Thank you.

Ellen Rosenberg, President, SBFC Board of Directors

Resources to inform you and help you talk with your kids about: