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Ski Trip Drug Cache Confiscated; Anxious Lamorinda Parents Await News of Teens

No one knows for sure (or will say) who the drugs belonged to but a substantial amount of marijuana and paraphernalia was confiscated from a bus caravan of local kids bound for a ski trip in Utah.

It's all over the six o'clock news and wire services and Patch parents are writing with a cold fury after a bus caravan carrying teens from all three Lamorinda high schools and other parts of the Bay Area was stopped in Nevada and an impressive amount of drugs confiscated.

About 250 teens -- including several from Lamorinda schools -- were asked to step off their bus caravan at a rest stop in Elko, Nevada after witnesses spotted some members of the group smoking pot in the parking lot. A local sheriff responded, realized he had more kids than he could safely incarcerate, and settled for confiscating the drugs -- weighing in at nearly two pounds worth of Rocky Mountain High.

Local parents are not happy.

"I now know that the kids are being on lock down in their hotels because the media and reporters are outside of their Hotel in Utah," wrote the parent of a teen on the trip. "I am wondering why we as parents have not been notified of this occurrence. My 15 year old daughter is there and I am upset."

Each of the three local Lamorinda high schools had students on the trip, parents said, and 17 kids were sent home early after being interviewed by the tour bus operators.

"It's not as if we didn't know it was a party trip," said another parent. "The website is loaded with rap and pictures of partying kids."

College age chaperones the tour bus company said were on hand to make sure the kids stayed safe evaporated when the police showed up, witnesses said.

KRNV-TV in Reno first reported the contraband confiscation on late Tuesday. Elko Police Chief Don Zumwalt told the Associated Press things started with a store clerk's report that passengers were smoking in the parking lot of an Elko travel plaza near the interstate. The police chief estimated the group had been traveling for eight hours, and was about four or five hours from their destination -- Salt Lake City.

After police dogs sniffed marijuana in each baggage compartment of each of the caravan's five buses, Zumwalt said he realized he had a problem.

"We had 250 kids. I don't know if anyone was over 21," he said. "I could have written a citation and arrested them all and confiscated the buses. But logistically it would have been a nightmare. Who belonged to what? Where would we put them?"

The juvenile detention facility in Elko has 20 beds.

"Las Vegas or Reno police might have done things differently," Zumwalt told the AP. "But this is how we solved the dilemma. Rather than seize the buses and obtain search warrants, we said, 'Get all the stuff off the buses.'"

Nevada police said they are trying to contact officials with the tour operator, Summer Winter Action Tours, based in Costa Mesa, Calif. A website touts the trip, dubbed El Nino 2011, as a gathering of high school students from 67 schools in Los Angeles, Orange County, Temecula and Arizona, 27 schools in the San Diego area, and 40 schools in Northern California.

"I'm trying to hunt down who has ultimate responsibility," Zumwalt said.

And police are not alone in their search for the responsible party, apparently, as about ten local parents wrote or called Patch seeking information on the trip operators Thursday.

dave in moraga January 01, 2012 at 03:11 AM
From a film...In a time of stress, the responsible adult opens his prescription bottle of pills and throws back a couple. An addict observing this says: "You, too?" The responsible adult responds: "Oh, no. This is medicine." To which the addict dryly replies, "It's ALL medicine".
Chris F. January 01, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Last I checked in Holland marijuana is legal and cocaine and heroin ar enot, As to Marijusna is a "gateway drug" I say NOT, the gateway drugs of today are the parents, school teachers and doctors puting ritilin and all of the ADD ADHD drugs down their kids throats and telling them They need it to act normal... Gateway drugs is in the coffee mom can't get enough of, It's in Redbull, cough syrup, its in the diet pills as well as moms little helper, it's in the grog that the parentrs make at the holiday party, in the liquer cabinate in the parent that smokes tabacco, its in the fact that there are too many social issues that we as parents put on our children to succeed and their need to get out and explore. To think pot is the gateway drug is nonsense, The Gatway is at your doorstep.
dave in moraga January 01, 2012 at 05:31 AM
CF: Hhhhhhaaaaa. Read your response tomorrow in the afternoon, or whenever you get up, and see what you think of it...As for myself, I plan to pull the spark plugs and rotor cap from my computer until Tuesday, just as a precaution from saying something unusually...uhm...thoughtless. I wish you all a Happy New Year! Which is pointedly arbitrary and pointless. Stay safe and be well! That sentiment is genuine!
CJ January 01, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Louise. You need to be a better parent. Everybody does not smoke pot. From my experience when younger is that the key to not being a pothead,stoner,addidcted is delaying use until your 20's at least. That should be the goal. Teenagers are ill equipped to deal with the euphoria of....anything reasonably and responsibly.
CJ January 01, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Key term Bruce is.....adults.
CJ January 01, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Kenny- I grew up in the 70's and am convinced their are 2 reasons I never got addicted to anything. Like you I never even smoked cigarettes either or had a desire to try(even though one parent and many relatives did). Even when it seemed everyone did them. 1) Athletics- I was a jock and realized in order to do well I could not ingest smoke in my lungs it just seemed wrong on any level. Multiple sports simultaneously kept me so busy at competitions that I never had time to party, even on Friday night after football and all weekend. 2) Peers- I would not hang out with people that used. I found friends who did not use and stuck with them. I gave up some very close friendships as some fell off and began using. Why ? I did not want to dissapoint my parents who would have been devastated had I done those things and it just seemed wrong. Every kid I have ever seen that used as a teenager, ended up with substance abuse or just a myriad of problems later in life. Even my own brother. The key is delay use until the formative years have passed. Anyway possible. You were lucky and/or just smarter than the others. Sometimes DNA/brains determines these things as well. That might be hard thing to accept if your kid is a user around here. To be practical about this whole thread. I may be naive , but from the teenagers I see around here. There is far less substance use as a population than most places and certainly less than when I grew up here in the East Bay BITD.
Tony Rodriguez January 01, 2012 at 07:07 PM
CJ -- exactly.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop January 01, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Any day, Lamorinda, 2:45 AM: "Honey, wake up!!" "What is it?!" "There's Strangers in the house. They came in the back door. I can hear them downstairs" "That's just our teenaged kids!" "Thank God they're OK" 'Strangers', yes; 'OK', don't be so sure. How well do you know your own kids?
2nd Generation Moraga January 01, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I can barely stand the sanctimonious, holier than thou, tones running through so many of these posts. I survived being raised here, and now have a sophomore at one of the high schools - I personally would not send my kid on a SWAT trip, but re-read the comment from "Z" who was on the trip. - This isn't a Lamorinda issue, it is a general issue of affluence - no different in Lamorinda than the suburbs of the mid-west or east coast. To all those people advising all the rest of us how to be "better parents" - save it and look after your own kids.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop January 01, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Well said, 2nd Gen. It is also called the Midas Curse. The ability to gather wealth in this country requires less energy and intelligence than successfully raising children. Parental indifference (other than heaping material trappings on them) leaves them looking to their peers for direction. You must earn their confidence and trust, it is something money cannot buy.
CB January 02, 2012 at 12:51 AM
I also agree with 2nd generation. It makes me sick to read about people calling others "bad parents" or "pathetic parents" or "the parents are the ones to blame". Did all of these "perfect" parents get the manual that was given out on raising kids ? Because I sure did not and I also did not get my "advanced degree" like everyone else in Lamorinda. Most of the people I know are doing the best that they can in this really hard time of raising teens. And in the end, I can only trust, we will all come out okay.
Caseysmommy January 02, 2012 at 12:54 AM
2nd gen... I say these parents need to be better bc its these parents, who dont give a shit that their kids are off doing god knows what, their kids are the ones trying to drag kids like mine, who are raised with morals, to their level. Their kids are whats wrong w our world today! So for that reason they all need parenting tips! And for the record i say this without any regret, and again as previously stated, I'm not naive by any means and i know my child isn't perfect, but he doesn't need to be because that's what I'm here for as a parent... To direct him properly so he's able to make better decisions. Which most of the kids on this trip are lacking!!!
Chris Nicholson January 02, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Are you for real or a troll? Is your child a teenager? "my child is not perfect....that is what I am here for". Wow. Just wow. Does this continue forever, or is there maybe a transitional period? Like maybe a period where a normal human morphs from a child into an adult? Isn't that called adolescence? Did it ever occur to you that minimizing the chance that your child makes any mistakes may not be the best parenting rubric?
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop January 02, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Wow, I'm ready for another vacation (or do you call it that when you are retired). A notion that seems to be missing here is that the decision making processes and parameters are long since developed by the time they are teenagers. They have moved into the realm of CONSEQUENCES, whether they be praise or punishment. Buffering them from appropriate consequences of felonious behavior may do more harm than good. A night or more in jail after a little police work discovered who brought the dope would have had a lasting effect on all but the most hardened future felons. Nothing more attention getting than the booking process. There appears to have been quantities that exceeded simple possession, so they clearly bagged (NPI) some distributors. These charges may well have been serious. I think the chief may have made a mistake.
Caseysmommy January 02, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Chris and cb.... Your aggravated because my words ring true... When my son becomes an adult he will make better decisions because of my parenting. I don't minimize the chances my son makes mistakes, i teach him to make right decisions, and when he doesn't there are consequences. But i certainly wouldnt allow him to go on a free for all with a bunch of irresponsible teens to maximize his chances of getting into trouble!!! I believe thats exactly what you did cb... and then admitted that you've been on a similar trip where you smoked weed too! Now thats just terrible parenting... So you can say what you will about me but thats just bad parenting in so many ways!
2nd Generation Moraga January 02, 2012 at 03:43 AM
The arrogance, self righteousness, and judgement in this thread expressed by a few is absolutely unbelievable. Rather than telling everyone how great a parent you are - and how bad others are - maybe step back and analyze the need to do so...
Chris Nicholson January 02, 2012 at 03:58 AM
2nd Gen: Trust your gut. You said that some "people" are "absolutely unbelievable." I think it is because those "people" are not real. They are trolls. "Caseysmommy" is not a real person.
CJ January 02, 2012 at 04:51 AM
2nd Gen- Believe me I do. JUst ask my kids. They hate that they cannot do some things. But they get why they can't.They live with it and respect the parental concern it represents. My kids want to go on a ski trip before 18. They get to go with the family and any friends that want to come. No problem. I have seen and experienced all the effects of the alternative substances being discussed in college. My kids will be monitored and controlled until they can make a proper "adult" decision on their own. If I do my job right they will pass through the HS years clean and healthy. It's called parenting.
Concerned Parent January 02, 2012 at 09:05 AM
Casey's Mommy, How’s Casey doing, he will soon be at JM. I am sure you will raise him well and he will never do wrong with you hovering about, with a mom like you I am sure little Casey would never try to escape and explore, If he does go outside the lines I am sure it will be because it would be someone else’s fault.. I am sure when he is going to Cal he will be rid of the bad Lamorinda influence and living in a drug/alcohol free frat house, Till then keep on pouring the Holiday Grog and know you’re a better parent than the rest. 2ndgen quit hiding behind an assumed name You are remind me of Casey’s mommy and someone else I know. I am sure that Moraga hasn’t changed much since you were raised here. I was recently speaking with a Real old time resident that raised his children here and now they have raised a third and working on a fourth gen. These old timers were telling me about the things that used to happen when they were young… Not a lot has changes with the exception of what they use to party with.. Maybe I should come out from behind my secret identity! But not before metropolis is secure, until then you can always put a beacon in the sky and I will be there.
Caseysmommy January 02, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Lol... Im as real as they come... I do not hover over my kid, he's extremely independent ... We do not live in California, why it matters where we live i don't know. I'm also not being arrogant or self righteous. All im saying is that if some parents were more responsible with their kids and their decisions for their kids, this discussion wouldn't be happening! So those who have a problem with what I'm saying are probably the ones who need the help and the ones that are making the poor decisions! Wiser parents would make for wiser kids! ;)
Jon Chambers January 02, 2012 at 03:57 PM
To Concerned Parent, please note that Caseysmommy is not Tina--you have jumped to an incorrect conclusion here. If you read the whole thread, you will see that Tina posts under her own name, and that Caseysmommy reports she is not from California. I think you owe Tina an apology--which would be easier to request if you likewise use your own name. I'll stay out of the back and forth diatribes about different parenting styles--suffice it to say that being a parent is challenging, and that there is no single approach that will work for every kid. I think we should all try to do our best to be good parents, and to provide our kids with a supportive environment that helps them develop into ethical and productive adults. BTW, Casey is already at JM, and is doing fine there.
Ann January 02, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Stress is the key word here. Have heard this from local high-schoolers as well. Stress over school work and grades in particular. As they get closer to college app time, worry over acceptances adds to the stress. And needless to say, peer pressure will always be a source of stress for kids. Unfortunately what I've also heard from the same high-schoolers is PARENTAL pressure as a huge source of their stress.
Tina Chambers January 02, 2012 at 04:54 PM
This is directed to Concerned Parent responding to Caseysmommy post on Sat 7:05 - although Jon already graciously did. Thanks for expressing your concern, he is doing fantastic! Also, I know who you are so I'd stronlgy suggest you keep your parenting opinions about me, which are clearly misdirected, and to others, on a civil level. I don't hide behind these "I can say anything I want" login names. How easy, yet cowardly for you, as with many others. If you read this thread it has been known that Caseysmommy isn't even from CA. But, this is the magic of the media and a great illustration of how so many wrong opinions, and judgements get formed. Waiting for the public apology......
Tony Rodriguez January 02, 2012 at 05:10 PM
CP -- Bacon and toast to go with the egg on your face?
Tony Rodriguez January 02, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The "stress" excuse doesn't fly here. Everyone has stress. Kids in east Oakland have stress, etc.
MF January 02, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Time to take this post down.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) January 02, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Morning, Folks -- I believe we have entered the realm of self-flagellation with many of your comments. I'm going to leave the comments interface open for another few hours and then close it down to comments. Tough story but apparently of interest. If any of you would like to sum up the "takeaways" of this story now would be a good time to do so. Editor
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop January 02, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I believe that most of what has been said here is self-centered rigmarole attempting to second guess behavior that is long established. This barn is empty and the horses long gone. Instead of analyzing child rearing abilities the effect of which is plainly evident, why not get to the root of the contemporary problem. Most of these kids are simply victims of an environment that has drugs and alcohol readily available. They are not candidates for habitual criminal behavior in the long run, they are experimenting and most will soon see the error of their ways. What's done is done as one cannot undo the results of the formative years. There is a small minority among them that represent the source of the felonious materials. No one has mentioned rooting them out, probably out of fear that their own kids may be among them. The Elko fiasco remains a lost opportunity whereby the sources were ripe for the plucking. That chief took the unprofessional route as he did not want to face the wrath of affluent parents and their lawyers. Sweeping the culprits under the rug is a form of denial deleterious to all concerned. They may belong to you, but better late than never.
Danielle January 02, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Those darn Las Lomas kids....
Caseysmommy January 02, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Bottom line... If the parents didnt pawn the kids off on a free for all bus trip to do what they wanted this article would fail to exist. Shame on the parents.. bottom line ;)

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