Cottage party primer: you gotta be there
Boats, booze and young adults don’t mix
‘Tis the season.
Of cocktails on the dock and long leisurely swims, of a good book, a Muskoka chair and a lazy afternoon, of the sun setting over the lake, of good friends loving the north country together. Such is cottage life.
Until you introduce the factor of the older teenager/young (notso-adult) adult who knows in their bones that the best place in the world to party is the cottage. With no parents in attendance.
I wish that I didn’t know what goes on at those parties. But you can’t stuff the genie back in the bottle, and I’ve heard too many stories. Most of them not good. Almost all of them involve way too much alcohol and drugs.
Kids do shots. Lots of shots. They get blotto on the ugly combination of too much hard liquor and too much marijuana. Don’t ask them about it because they lie to their parents. It’s in the adolescent DNA to withhold info about things they know will distress their parents. We lied to our parents, too, once upon a time.
None of this would be such a big problem if their judgment (not so great at the best of times) were not so badly impaired by substances. Bad things can happen. Bad things that are particular to the cottage in the summer. They can trash the cottage. They can go swimming drunk and somebody can get hurt. Badly hurt. Water-skiing or wakeboarding. Driving the boat carelessly or drunk. Again, somebody can get hurt.
This is a heart-breaking possibility, and it gets worse.
As parents, we need to understand social host liability. The law says that if we serve alcohol, or allow it to be served in our home, we are literally liable for the consequences.
In a 2017 case, the Ontario Superior Court upheld host liability when a 19-year-old who got drunk at a house party was in a car accident and became a quadriplegic. In plain English, that means the homeowners were sued and lost a lot of money. Even though they did not give him the alcohol.
Step 1 to protect yourself re host liability is to buy a lot of host liability insurance.
Same deal if somebody who doesn’t have their PCOC (Pleasure Craft Operator Card) gets caught driving your motorboat.… Even worse if
Cottage season shouldn’t (and doesn’t have to) include lawsuits and tragedy.