In just a few weeks the young boy that you remember giving birth to only yesterday is going to pack their bags for two of the biggest weeks of their lives: Schoolies.
Though the chances are, they won’t be packing a whole lot. I think a few of my mates got away with a pair of jocks, a pair of shorts and a singlet thrown into a disposable green bag for an entire two weeks at the beach.
It doesn’t matter where they’re going, or how they’ve spun it, every Schoolies has the same ingredients. And it’s going to take all the skills that they’ve learnt over their last eighteen years to make sure they navigate it safely to the other side.
From late bloomers to over-achievers, all fellas at Schoolies becomes equal: horny teenage blokes that have spent ten months inside a pressure-cooker who are desperate to let off steam.
It might be your credit card listed for the holiday house bond, but who’s paying for the front door when it gets broken, and how long do they have to get cash into your bank account?
Do they know where the local hospital is, or what to do if one of their mates passes out? Is there a cost for checking-out late, what happens if they break the kitchen chairs? If it’s a beach house, how close are the neighbours, and are they home? Is it worth them knocking on the door on the first night to introduce themselves?
I know you’ve already told them, but remind your son they want to be the bloke holding back a chick’s hair if she’s unwell, not the one trying to take advantage of her. The first type is a champion and the second is a criminal.
Sadly at Schoolies, too many school captains end up becoming the school creep.
I’ve heard stories about lads who had never received a detention before, losing their bananas on the first night. They were trying so hard to become the king of the castle they ended up in the back of a police van and were ordered home by their folks on the first flight out of Byron the next morning.
And gone are the days when a disposable camera was the only thing that could capture the craziness. Mobile phones and digital cameras will be everywhere – and I mean, everywhere. And whilst the temptation to take snapshots of every minute is high, it’s not worth it. For one week in their life, a social media ban might do themselves some good.
Most blokes heading to Schoolies will have already turned eighteen. They might feel like a kid in a candy store, but the reality is in the eyes of the law they’re a grown man. An adult male that can drink, vote and be sent to jail. Their school principal might have been a little lenient, but the local cop won’t.
The secret to a successful Schoolies is simple: balance.
However, that’s one of the hardest things to try and find when you’ve got a beer in one hand and bong in the other.
So make sure they’re loaded up with a phone charger, sunscreen, a debit card, condoms and a shitload of common sense. Be firm, but fair. And ask for one text message for every day they’re away – at lunchtime – to keep you in the loop. There are some more handy hints here and here.
And keep your fingers crossed they don’t come back married after meeting at a beach party, like these two holiday lovebirds did back in 2007.
Sean Power is a twenty-year-old radio producer who spends too much time on Twitter. You can follow him on Twitter at @POWERSOZ. He’s also written about growing up as an Aussie male here, how much he loves old people here, and appeared on Mamamia on Sky News here and here.
Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr Gregg also has some advice for the school leavers heading off to Schoolies. And if you’re a parent who has bitten your cuticles until they bleed at the thought of your 18-year-old baby heading to the Gold Coast – then these are a must read.
Here are Michael’s top 5 tips:
1. Stay with your friends. Don’t go anywhere with anyone you don’t know (Saying “Just for a sec” doesn’t count). Be wise with who you let into your room.Stay in well-lit areas, especially in the early hours of the morning.
2. Never leave drinks alone. Never accept drinks from others. Drink-spiking is a big issue at Schoolies week.Know your boundaries and stick to them. Alcohol makes you less aware of danger. Don’t swim. Alcohol makes you less aware of danger.3. Money, id and mobile phone with you. Tell people where you are going and who you will be with.The risk of hurting yourself is greater when you’ve been drinking, even at low levels. Common sense dissolves in alcohol and peer pressure.4. Take and use condoms, be discrete, don’t have sex in public, tell them you are too young to be a grandparent!5. Get mum making frozen meals for you to take because you need to eat when you run out of money.