This is a copy of the letter being sent to parents of high school students in the region.
With graduation and especially prom night fast approaching, many of your kids are busy making their plans for the summer. In addition to getting fitted for tuxes and searching for that perfect dress, they are also making choices about their after-prom activities. They no doubt have many choices and options, but we think that we can all agree that some of these activities can be more desirable then others.
Over the past decade, a tradition of after-prom camping in area state parks has developed. In many cases, the students choose Palisades or Newton Hills. Some of the students will rent cabins but most will pitch tents. The state parks have been struggling with this tradition for two reasons:
Because of the past history of prom and graduation related camping disturbances, park rangers will be working late hours on these nights. Our goal is that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience in our parks. If students respect the laws, and extend common courtesy to other park users, they too can expect to have very good experience all season long.
Our park rangers operate under a zero tolerance policy regarding underage consumption 100% of the time. Students often feel that since they will be in a remote park area, they can go undetected. Their concept is flawed, as in 2005 there were close to 100 underage drinking violations at the state parks in the Sioux Falls area. And being caught can result in fines, court appearances, sentences to juvenile detention, and early morning calls to you to pick up your son or daughter. Other trickle-down effects include loss of sports and academic scholarships, summer job offers, and even worse, the possibility of death or injury resulting from an alcohol-related accident.
State park officials want you to know that your sons and daughters are welcome to camp any time in the state parks. It's a great way for friends to have fun outdoors and create great memories. However, we encourage you to visit with your kids about the consequences of drinking and being disruptive in the state parks.
South Dakota State Parks, the Mayor’s Youth Council, and the Sioux Falls Schools thank you for your assistance with passing this message on to your kids. We all want to make sure that your son or daughter's "breath-taking experience" in the parks is not blowing into a portable breath tester. With your assistance, we can make 2006 a safe year for all.