Music Festivals 101 (part 4)
Having just returned from a rather sizable Christian Music Festival, I thought it best to debrief myself by sharing my experience with you. This is part one in a small series, so please make sure to check out the other parts…
“We want you back here at 10:00am sharp!”
Ever heard yourself shouting that to a group of teens as they leave your campsite? If you are, then you are not alone. As leaders, we are responsible for our teenagers when we take them on a trip, and if it is a trip like Alive was, then there are thousands of other teens and adults there. Sure it is a Christian Music festival full of youth groups, families and people who genuinely love God, but with that many people in one place, there are favorable odds for people to be there with less-than-pure motives. So we established two items to help us keep our group safe.
- The first was the check-in. We established times during the day when we needed our students to be back at camp in order to make sure they were safe, and to spend time together building relationships with them and finding out what they had been up to. Unfortunately for us, I feel we had too few check-in times. We required them to be at the camp at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then to be in the site for the evening at 1am (the official Alive curfew). This was not a bad system and it actually allowed many of our group to see all the bands that they really wanted to, but it allowed a few of them (our middle school girls) a bit too much freedom. It also tied into the last post in that it did not really serve to help us grow much with our students as much as I would have liked.
- The second item was the buddy system. We required our teens to have at least one other student with them at all times. It worked most of the time, and only a handful of times did we find out one teen had wandered off or was left behind by their buddy. It was good for safety. But it also led to some negatives, specifically when there were two guys in the camp and one did NOT want to do what the other wanted to do. We allowed a couple of our more responsible teens slip out of this rule late in the week but it still sat a little uncomfortably with me from a safety standpoint.
We did not have cell phones to keep tabs on our teens, and may consider it next year (and might not since I was awoken a 7:30am the second morning by a parent wanting to let me know her daughter was apparently texting a friend inappropriately late the previous evening – which would have necessitated her using someone else’s phone of course), and we may just use walkie-talkies.
But in any event, the old adage goes “Better safe than sued.” We must strive to keep our teens safe at these events, and I feel that there is room for us to improve for next year. This is an ongoing discussion and process, so how have you kept your teens safe in trips?