Those that follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter might be aware that I spent part of last week chaperoning my daughter’s high school marching band on their “Fall Tour” — a three day jaunt to California to learn, practice, compete and have a little fun.
While I have been fairly active as a “Band Dad” these past four years, this was my first overnight trip. I’ll freely admit that the thought of chaperoning 120 some-odd hormone filled teenagers was a little daunting. Fortunately, all of my previous exposure to these young adults has been extremely positive. They are, almost without fail, “good kids”.
We were scheduled to depart from the high school at Midnight on Wednesday. Unfortunately the bus company failed to show at the allotted time and the departure was pushed to 8:00am the next morning. Several kids elected to spend the night at the high school, and chaperones were needed to keep a watch on the kids.
I volunteered for that duty.
Sleeping on what is for all practical purposes a concrete floor with nothing but a borrowed pillow and a thin blanket wasn’t exactly the highlight of the trip, but we all managed a couple hours of sleep.
I also got my first real exposure to several of the band members. My charge was to get them to sleep, and make sure they stayed in their assigned room.
It was a minor fail on both parts. Someone, I don’t know if it was one of the boys I was assigned to watch or one of the girls in the other room, managed to either sneak off or have delivered a quantity of tacos from Jack-in-the-Box. This was frowned upon by some of the adult chaperones, but I figured the kids have to eat, and where else are you going to get food at 3:00am? No one was killed or injured in the Jack adventure — so no harm no foul.
We loaded up three large tour busses in the morning and headed off to California. This was my first real chance to observe the kids and engage in a few conversations.
I was immediately struck by how well behaved and respectful they were. Oh sure, they did some obnoxious things. It was a bunch of 15 – 18 year olds after all. Teenagers do stupid things, that’s just they way it is. But by and large they were respectful of each other, and were *extremely* polite to me and the other adults on the bus. Maybe that’s because I was on the bus with the band directors.
Or maybe they are just good kids.
Sadly the bus company SNAFU meant the kids missed their clinical (instructional) sessions, but they were all still very upbeat about the trip.
I won’t go into all the details of the trip, that’s not the point of this post. [Though I do have to mention that at the competition they took first place in their division along with captions (top awards) for General Effect and Auxiliary (Color Guard) among some very steep competition!]
The point of this is in my interactions with these young adults over three days I was consistently struck with one thought:
These young adults are our future. They are future leaders, workers, business owners and parents. Sometimes I sit back and think that the world is headed down the toilet. Read the news on any given day and it’s filled with negativity — the economy sucks, politicians are out of touch, crime and violence are seemingly rampant. Many believe that the world is going to hell in a hand basket.
I’m not so sure about that now.
What I saw over three plus days was a lot of incredibly bright, sensitive, loving and caring young adults. These band kids works their asses off — practicing their music, dance and showmanship — often with little recognition from the school or their peers. They do it for the love of music, the companionship, and the opportunity to be a part of a group of like-minded individuals.
If these young adults are an example of their generation as a whole, then the world is NOT going to hell. In fact, the future is bright.
Who knows where these kids will end up. Some will go on to college, some won’t. Some may never pick up their instrument after their high school band career ends. Some will become business owners, some worker bees. Many will be parents one day.
Last week I had the pleasure to witness a whole bunch of teens come together for a common goal. They were in very close quarters, jammed on busses and sleeping four to a room. There was very little opportunity for “alone time”. Yet they all were very positive. They helped each other. They helped a rookie overnight chaperone. They worked together as a team and achieved their goal.
I had some amazing conversations with some amazing young adults. We talked about politics, relationships, school, and the future.
And you know what?
I’m excited about the future. If these fine young adults are any indication, things will be just fine.
I congratulate them on their short-term success on the field of competition, and I look forward to their future contributions to society.
They are going to rock whatever path in life they choose.