It is great that you’re interested in chaperoning school performance trips. Thank you! Your role is to help get the kids safely and happily through the challenges of their action-packed itineraries. You are an extension of trip leadership and a liaison to it for the students. Directors will have high expectations of you, and your number one reason for being on a trip is to support the leaders and kids. As a chaperone, you must always focus on what’s best for the group, even if your student is on the trip.
An effective chaperone is one who is fair, firm, and consistent. You must be comfortable with students of varying ages and backgrounds, and familiar with the school’s behavioral expectations. Some of the best chaperones come from booster organizations – those actively involved with the program. The travel goal is that students enjoy the trip and participate in valuable educational and social opportunities. All adult chaperones must work together to make the goal become the reality.
An essential trait for anyone chaperoning school performance trips is a genuine comfort with and desire to interact with high school and middle school students. Chaperone responsibilities are substantial: a rapid, non-stop series of constant duties, day and night, throughout the trip. Planners always strive to make trips safe, enjoyable, educational, and memorable for student performers. But no good chaperone should view a band/choir/orchestra trip as a vacation.
The 4 keys to being a good chaperone are: Energy, Positive Mental Attitude, Flexibility, and Good Leadership:
- Energy – You are up before the students in the morning and go to bed after everyone else. You are present for every part of the trip. You make sure your students show up for breakfast, get on the bus, and you make sure they are ready for the next activity. You are their ‘Mom or Dad’ away from home. You need to be able to keep up with it all with a smile on your face.
- Positive Mental Attitude – The mood of the group will be influenced by your attitude. If you’re in a great mood, the kids will feed off your energy. If you’re tired or frustrated, the kids will feel that and it will influence how they perceive their trip.
- Flexibility – It is so important be able to calmly handle the changes that WILL come up on a trip, and to be mindful of expectations. Music Travel Consultants Tour Directors will do everything in their power to make things run smoothly, but changes will happen and every chaperone needs to be able to roll with them.
- Good Leadership – Even though today’s kids are very independent, they still look to adults for guidance, especially when they are out of their comfort zones. When they get excited or upset or tired and cranky, you having a calm, mature voice of reason is crucial. The Directors rely on chaperones to respect and support the decisions that have been made and the itineraries that have been developed.
- Please know that your MTC Tour Director is not a chaperone. He or she can alert you to a problem, but she or he cannot discipline or otherwise correct student or adult behavior. Please do not ask your tour director to address the noise level on the coach, profanity from students or other adults, or any rules infractions. If your intervention does not fix the situation, it should be immediately brought to the attention of the Director/Staff.
- Understand that some venues and events limit the number of chaperones allowed to participate. This is not a Music Travel Consultants rule, but one set by the festival, workshop or performance site organizers. For example, only a couple of chaperones are allowed into backstage rehearsals at Carnegie Hall or into a workshop at Disneyland or Walt Disney World.
- Chaperoning can be abundantly rewarding. If you are a good chaperone, you will form lifelong bonds with the students and the other adults with whom you travel. You might not have much downtime, but you will help to shape the lives of so many teenagers, to be there and share in some of their once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Rewards like that don’t get much better!
Pre-Trip Tips for Preparing Chaperones:
Reading motor coach, hotel, and behavior rules several days before the trip will ensure that chaperones, staff and everyone else is on the same page. MTC recommends that school staff and all chaperones (and all students and other adults, if possible) familiarize themselves with the following topics before trip departure:
- Review school trip rules so the chaperones are thoroughly familiar with them. Make every effort to assure that the rules will be firmly supported by every adult on the trip.
- Be clear about expectations for adult behavior on the school trip. Because it is an extended “field trip,” smoking and drinking are not allowed. Chaperones must be on time for activities, stay with their student group at all times, and be good role models.
- Go over the trip itinerary, emphasizing the learning experiences and trip highlights, to set expectations and enable chaperones to create a memorable tour. Remind chaperones of their responsibilities at the trip check-in, on the bus, in the hotel, at meal times and at attractions.
- Discuss the types of problems and discipline that can arise on a school trip, emphasizing which ones chaperones have authority to handle and which should be referred to school staff.
- Pass along tips to chaperones about working with the student age group. Suggest chaperones meet their group members before, or at the onset of the trip. Stress that the chaperones’ role is to be an authority figure, not a buddy to the students. Let the chaperones know that experienced teachers and staff will have their backs and help them during the whole the trip.
- It’s very important to review emergency procedures that could occur during the trip. Explain the chain of command – chaperones report to staff, who in turn report to the MTC Tour Director and/or school administrator. Group leaders and chaperones should exchange cell phone numbers so they can be in constant communication while touring.
- Talk about nighttime security procedures at the hotel. Some groups have MTC hire a local security firm to monitor student rooms overnight, so all chaperones can sleep. Other groups assign chaperones to one or two hour shifts from bed check in the evening until awakening in the morning. Regardless, MTC recommends that chaperones check the student room(s) assigned to them to make sure that everyone is present before “lights out.” And, chaperones should wake the students in the morning. Note: During room check, chaperones should ALWAYS physically ID each student assigned to that room.
Chaperone duties and rules may also include:
- Responsibilty for an assigned group of students during the trip.
- Mandatory attendance at all pre-trip and on-trip chaperone meetings.
- Before the trip, may personally contact a parent of each student in their assigned group, to share trip details, answer questions and gather necessary student information.
- Compile an emergency contact list and communication plan for assigned group.
- Assist Band Director and Head Chaperone with pre-trip details as needed.
- Attend all group functions during the trip.
- Make sure assigned students are to breakfast on time.
- Check that all your students have all required items needed for each day’s events.
- Work with other chaperones to be sure all daytime activities and nighttime halls monitoring are supervised.
- Assist with motor coach (and plane or ship or rail) loading and attendance.
- Assist with uniform/costume distribution and collection.
- Assist with equipment loading, unloading, and handling as needed.
- Assist with snack and meal preparation, serving and clean-up.
- Provide TLC when needed – always!
- Be clear about the chain of command, and what chaperones may, and may not, do in discipline situations.
- Report all problems to the Head Chaperone or Music Director.
- Report all dress code violations or concerns to the Head Chaperone. The Music Director ONLY is responsible to address this issue with a student.
- If non-performing siblings of students are part of the traveling group, establish who is responsible for them and their behavior. Generally, chaperones are not expected to supervise or take care of non-performers.
- Mandatory on student trips: No smoking, consumption of alcohol or use of illegal substances by a chaperone will be tolerated.
Questions about chaperoning school performance trips? Feel free to email us or call 800.616.1112.