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  • Writer's pictureKathy

Help Wanted: Chaperones

Everyone has skills. Everyone has talents. Everyone has a desire to make their children happy. (I mean, mostly. Right?)

Anywho, if happiness comes in the form of the marching band, then we must all pitch in to make every season great.

This is part of a series giving details on how the parents, guardians, family, and friends of the marvelous marchers of the Spirit of Woodlan can support the band.

When the registration form arrives at the beginning of the season, and you stare at the "Band Booster Committee" page, there could be some serious WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO thoughts. But have no fear. We're all in this together.

And we have a pretty darn good time.

Let's talk chaperoning.

My daughter joined the band in 2016, which is when I started chaperoning. I've chaperoned a lot. A LOT. People look at me like I'm insane, but I like it.

Competition days are pretty much (there's always a couple that aren't) every Saturday of September, October, and (hopefully) the beginning of November. Including state finals, there tend to be eight competition days. The chaperone's job is to ride the bus on these days, to make sure everyone who should be there is there and the musicians are not causing mayhem on the bus. Each bus has one chaperone. So far, there have been two buses one boys and one girls, but depending on how many are in the band, that number could change.

Competition days...

Get to school a good half an hour before the bus leaves (times will be on the schedule you will receive each week), grab your bus bag, stylish blue duffles with all sorts of goodies. Bandages. Garbage bags. Tissues. Extra black socks. Feminine hygiene products. And vomit bags. However, there is no medication...I mean that stuff can expire and handing that out might be dicey. You might want to bring your own Tylenol or Advil. The band kids usually have what they need anyway and will share.

You will get a list of band students for attendance. For a long time, Mr. Slattery handed out a list of all the students, meaning you had to go through and cross off the ones not on your bus. Last year, we had a wonderful list of just the students on your bus with nice lines to check people off. If I'm good, I will get this done for this year, because I guess I'm in charge. As soon as everyone is on board...the seniors at the back (with a seat to themselves if possible) working to the junior high kids at the front...the chaperone will call roll. The kids will leave you your own seat.

Note who is there and who is not, not everyone can make every competition, things happen. Call off the names and mark them down. I like to have fun with this. "When I call your name, make a very loud sound." You should hear what I hear. Cracks me up every time. A great thing to do then is to announce that if they are "not riding the bus home PLEASE TELL ME OR IF YOU CAN'T FIND ME TELL SOMEONE".

Note: The musicians do not have to ride the bus back to school after competitions. If they are not riding back, the best thing is to have a note from whoever is taking them home, however, I accept verbal "Hey, Kathy! I'm not riding back!" And me looking them in the face and saying (insert name) is not riding home on the bus. What isn't fun is calling a name, getting no answer, then having someone yell "I THINK they went home with so-and-so." You think? Oh my. The fear is real people.

Then enjoy your trip. I bring a book, some water, and a snack. My experience on the girls bus has been wonderful. They chit-chat, they scroll through the phones, they listen to music, they laugh. However, be aware of what the bus driver expects, each one is different. I've had ones that are pretty forgiving and ones that don't allow much of anything. Help the bus driver not lose their mind. My rides have been pretty uneventful.

Note: In the girls bus, they scream "We're turning left!" when the bus makes the turn onto Webster Rd. It's fun, just go with it. DO THE BOYS DO THIS?

When you arrive at the competition site, everyone is welcome to disembark, go to the bathroom, hang out outside, eat whatever leftover food was brought. When it is time to change into uniforms, they change on the bus. I leave my stuff on the bus, taking just what I need to watch the competition, or work pit crew (post about that to come!). Chaperones will get stamped as the bus enters the parking lot, this stamp will let you in to see the performances for free.

The journeys can go from 45 minutes to hours. If it is a longer trip (such as to semi-state or THE STATE FINALS IN INDY!) the bus will stop for food/bathroom breaks. Whether you call roll each time they get back on, or keep track of who leaves and makes sure they come back (because at times not everyone gets off), just don't lose any kids. That's it.

When we all arrive safe and sound at school, I always take a moment to yell "Make sure you have ALL your stuff! Make sure you get all the trash!" Then when everyone is off, I go seat by seat to check. You'll find trash. You'll find socks, shoes, maybe pants, hair ties...all sorts of things. I even found a WHOLE BAG OF OREOS! Then Sophie took them, claiming they were hers. But they were almost mine. Take all the things to the band room, wave them around, call out for someone to claim them, then leave them in the band room. Take the blue duffle to the band room. And you're free.

I love chaperoning. I get a ride to the competitions, otherwise I'd be driving by myself. Most importantly, I get to know the kids. I've had many a fun conversation. There's been much laughing. I've enjoyed every time we've begun a new journey with the words "We're turning left!".

A picture from long ago (2017). But a good one. Days on the bus will be forever remembered.

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