I'd forgotten all about this, but the memory came flooding back. When I stayed at my friend's we used to go for midnight hikes. It was really fun, and it never occurred to me that it was either dangerous or really forbidden. We just did it.
We were 'good' kids. It was no more than adventure and fun. I don't know what would have happened if we'd been 'caught', but I'd have been stunned to have been really punished. (I can't recall ever being 'grounded' - I don't think the concept even entered my parents' heads.)
I didn't know that people ever did stuff like make their kids clean toilets with toothbrushes until I saw that on a programme on TV about a family disciplining sextuplets. The thought makes me queasy. Maybe it's cultural and not as shocking to Americans, but I'd never, ever do that to my kids. I'm not trying to be mean, but just wondering how the kids felt being made to do this. I imagine that as a teenager I'd have just seethed with resentment, not seen the light about how foolish I'd maybe been.
I'm not saying that these japes are a good idea, but personally, I"d not go overboard on punishing. I'm not big on punishment anyway and don't think it works. If I were made to clean toilets with a toothbrush then had all my 'priviliges' taken away, I might not have gone on another midnight walk, but I'd sure as heck have felt angry. I wasn't a 'bad' kid, just maybe made a childish decision - because I was actually a child at the time. Isn't our job to gently guide our children and their job to make childish mistakes?
If I imagine my parents finding out about my midnight walks, the best thing to have made me stop and think about the dangers would have been to sit me down and seriously discuss what may happen if I was out late at night without anyone knowing where I was. Punishment would have just been counterproductive, certainly for me personally. Even if it stopped me doing the midnight adventures, it would have had the sad impact of making me angry and rebellious against my parents and would not have helped me feel trusted and understood.
My kids aren't old enough for this sort of jape yet, but when it comes to it, I plan to problem solve with them. If it's adventure and late nights they want, I'd help them find a way to do it safely. Of course, how you do this will depend upon where you live, but I don't think when I went out at night I was in any real serious danger.
I'm sure your kids are great kids and that your style of discipline is different to mine. I'm not being snarky, just sharing a different perspective on what might have the desired effect upon children who do things like go out on late night adventures.