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Subsidize chaperones for children's chorus trip?

My children's chorus is traveling to Austria this summer, and my board is balking at subsidizing the chaperones. There are several parents going on the trip who have explicitly stated that they do not want to chaperone, so I would like to help fund three parents who would be fabulous chaperones but who cannot afford the trip. In my experience with past trips (with other choruses), the chaperones have always been partially subsidized, as they will have many responsibilities, and must be ready to miss some of the sight-seeing/events/etc. if a singer should be ill. I would like to be able to present my board with evidence that subsidizing chaperones is common practice for trips involving children, so please let me know if you have a policy for funding chaperones.
Replies (4): Threaded | Chronological
on December 21, 2014 4:57am
Hi back Leslie - My treble boys choir (The Fort Bend Boys of Texas), takes tours yearly and has for the past 33 years.  Some years we travel to various places twice, depending on bookings.  These are up to two week tours.  We travel with a ratio of one adult chaperone to four boys.  My choristers are all between the ages of 9 - 13 . . . unchanged voices.
 
I am the founding director and have always subsidized what the parent chaperones pay.  It is always the same amount that each boy pays.  We never charge the full, actual amount our tour company [Witte Travel] charges us per person.  I feel it is part of the organizations duty to fundraise the 'extra' amount.  My board feels the same way.  Our annual budget is just at 400K, so we fundraise alot and part of those funds go towards covering our touring costs not covered by the boys or chaperones.  I select who the chaperones are and other parents do not 'tag' along as part of the tour.
 
Not all our boys can even pay the lesser charge and scholarships help them out.  Parent chaperones however, agree to pay their entire amount if they accept my invitation to travel with us.
 
Hope this helps - visit our website at www.fbbctx.org for more information or email privately if you want to continue dialouge wra(a)fbbctx.org
 
My best and Merry Christmas!
 
Bill
on December 21, 2014 6:13am
Hi Leslie. I certainly understand your point of view and you need chaperones who will, as you said, "miss some of the sight-seeing/events/etc. if a singer should be ill." I think it is important to first make a huge distinction between "working..." and "playing chaperones." In our organization, we are fortunate to have grown to the size where only staff members (meaning full-time, part-time, or "steady/stellar" volunteer staff members) are considered for the working chaperone positions. It sounds to me like you have a case of needing to subsidize the trips of a few people, who are not only needy but also great "steady/stellar" volunteers, in order to have the workers you need. Your board might not fully understand your need for workers and thus sees this as favoritism. I wonder if they would go for a scenario where you state "We need ___ (number) of chaperones for this trip" and create an application form for people to submit. On the form you can ask (besides name, phone, etc.) "What volunteer jobs have you done for the choir in the past?" "What is your philosophy of chaperoning?" "What would you do in the case of a singer needing to stay in the hotel because they are sick and your needing to miss a concert, parade, or Broadway show?" and finally "Why do you want to chaperone?" (If the answer to the final question is "to experience London with my child," they get the axe!) I have also thought of the question "How much can you pay towards the trip?" but that indicates subsidies, so maybe that's not good. ??? Anyway, have a panel including you (and your best colleague or accompanist) choose the chaperones based on the strength of their application. Another thing I'm just guessing is that you have parents on your board. This makes a huge difference in their objectivity. Best of luck! Jena Dickey, Young Voices of Colorado and Sing A Mile High Children's Choral Festival.
on December 21, 2014 12:49pm
I have to admit, it sounds rather odd to me that you allow parents to come on the trip who aren't chaperoning.  If I knew I could go on the trip and have no responsibilities, I wouldn't volunteer to chaperone either.  Doesn't this shrink your chaperone pool a bit?  Are the kids okay with the fact Mr. Jones is just tagging along as a tourist and should be left alone by the pool with his mojito, but Mrs. Lowry is in charge of things and can be bothered for help, (and you, little Michaela, have to be where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be, because you are a choir member, I don't care what your dad said.)  It seems like it creates a weird double standard among the parents at best, or at worst, a bit of chaos as kids ask the wrong people for information and get brushed off, or complain that they don't want to do the group activity because all the adults aren't doing the group activity.  And what happens if an adult is late getting back to the bus, or has a few too many drinks at dinner?  If just anybody can tag along, you may get some parents who are not only unhelpful, they may actually be a liability.  You don't need more people to babysit.  
 
I know this doesn't help you this year, but if it were me, I would only allow parents to travel with you who agree to chaperone.  If someone's mom wants to make her own vacation plans sync up with your tour and come to your concert in Paris, that's fine, but then it's clear to all involved that she is just an audience member.  Your organisation shouldn't be the travel agent for anyone who wants a group rate vacation.  
 
on September 30, 2015 11:52am
I served as a chaperone on a children's choir trip to NYC this spring (we're from WA state), in which almost every kid had a family member on the trip, and some had several! I have to say, it worked beautifully! I found it was easier on everybody because there were more sets of eyes--the chaperones were looking out for their assigned kids; the parents watched out for their own by nature. But everyone knew the 5 chaperones were the ones ultimately responsible for knowing where everyone was, so there was no question of "who should be 'on' right now?" If anything, the only issue was that the kids without parents felt a little neglected.
So I think this system worked great...though I do think you need to have a quorum of parents to make it work--one or two tagging along would be weirder. And the parents have to be on board! You have to know them beforehand and know that they're dedicated to the trip (and aren't going to be like another kid to take care of!). But both from the meetings we had prior to the trip and the general environment of parents with our organization (positive and enthusiastic), there was no doubt this would be a success. And speaking from our experience, it was! :)
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