Choosing the right chaperones to ensure a successful tour
The Keys To Planning Your 'Tour Team'
by Lance Harvey
There will be many key decisions in the success of your tour, but few decisions will affect the overall personality and tone of your experience then the team you choose to lead the tour with you. If you choose wisely you will likely end up with a motivated group of travelers and cohesive support structure on the tour. On the other hand, choose poorly and risk not achieving your recruiting goals or feeling a little overwhelmed on tour.
How many chaperones do you really need?
This decision is one you generally want to make before booking the tour. In our experience, you should at least have one adult to 15 students. The decision of whether to reduce that ratio to 12, 10 or even less really depends on a number of factors such as the age and maturity of your group, the complexity of your itinerary, school policies and your personal comfort level.
What are the primary responsibilities of chaperones?
Pre-tour, chaperones provide a key role of supporter, including:
- Being a tenacious recruiter
- Attending all parent meetings
- Assisting with obtaining necessary paperwork and bookings
- Assisting in organizing fundraisers
On the tour, chaperones are on-call 24-hours a day and must:
- Lead, organize, count their ‘small groups’
- Assist with student discipline
- Perform curfews and room checks
- Make sure students wake on time for breakfast
- Tend to any ill student
- Be prepared to accompany a student home early
- Be able to assume the responsibilities of Tour Director
- Abide by the behavior/alcohol guidelines for adults
The traits and qualifications of an ideal chaperone
- Youth Experience – Working with youth is a skill developed with experience. The tour is not the best place for someone to develop this experience for the first time.
- Student Familiarity - The tour is very fast paced and chaperones need to be able to quickly identify and round up students.
- Positive Reputation- You and your chaperones will become the ‘face and personality’ of the tour. Students and parents are much more likely to sign up for the tour if they thoroughly like and respect the chaperones leading the tour.
- Motivated Recruiters - Your chaperones need to not only recruit, but must really be able to bring out the excitement in students both before and during the tour. The best chaperones can truly motivate students and bring them out of their shell to fully appreciate the experience. The great ones ignite the fire within the student!
- Organized - The chaperones will assist you with a lot of pre-tour organization involving appointments, room lists, obtaining signed forms, organizing fundraisers, etc. On tour they will be in charge of a wide variety of responsibilities.
The ones you might want to avoid…
- Your family members - There are definite pros and cons to consider. Teachers at your school are usually stronger choices due to their ability to recruit and their familiarity with the students.
- Parents you don’t know well – Parents will generally have a more difficult time adapting to the demands of the tour than a teacher. You need chaperones you are comfortable delegating to and confident can handle the responsibilities in the event of an emergency.
- Teacher/ chaperone spouses - The same issues may arise as including your own family members. Additionally, chaperones must assume the risk they will have to accompany a student home in the event of an emergency.
- Older students; school alumni - While they may be good for recruiting and you may want to invite them, they generally have a more difficult time assuming the role of an authority figure over students.
- Teachers without a rapport with the students – Chaperones will be your primary recruiters at school and need to have the respect of students on tour.
Choose the right fit for your needs…
The decision of choosing chaperones requires a balancing of interests. If this is a new experience for your school, you likely need to focus on finding the teachers who can best recruit. Perhaps you can set a goal for potential chaperones to earn their tour spot by recruiting 15 students. Most importantly, convey your passion the importance of the tour and recruit a team that shares that passion. Communicate with chaperones clearly, early and often. Tour leaders need to always be on the same page and able to display a united front on the key tour decisions. Pick the right chaperones and you are well on your way to establishing a life-changing tradition in your community.