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Touring with children: Cell phones & Electronics

We are a community choir that has been touring for about 30 years.
The benefits or touring are enormous. One benefit (which for those of you who do it, this is preaching to the choir) is a healthy, controlled separation from parents, giving a child some opportunity to develop some independence. 
I inherited our rules of the road when I joined which was about 20 years ago. The rule was no cell phones and that was easy to enforce in the beginning. 
Kids were allowed to bring electronic games for the bus as long as they had head phones and didn't disturb anyone around them. But, I am so behind the time on "gaming" I have no idea what boys have, or need, want or even what the capabilities are.
I also think being off the social grid is healthy for a few days.  If they are on social media, they are not connected to each other and becoming better friends, comrades and ultimately better choral singers as the group bonds, is an important part of tour.
I have heard people collecting phones on the bus and passing them out again for camera use etc...
What about music on the bus??
We also have a disparity of ages. Most of the travelers are 11 to 14. Then there is a subset of 15 to 18 year olds. Different stages of development.
What are some of your rules and thoughts about traveling with kids and electronics?
Times have changed...our values of friendship and caring and quality time together should not.
Your collective wisdom is always appreciated.
on May 29, 2014 4:08am
I think my biggest concern would 'sexting.'  When on trips with middle school agd kids, I had no problem restricting cell phone usage. Now that I am beginning again in high school, after yeaars of electronic developments, I am very interested in the responses you receive! Thanks for asking the question. I need the same advice! NP
on May 29, 2014 5:14am
When I travel with my high school choir (and when our band director travels with the band) we encourage the kids to bring their cell phones along. We also make sure they have the numbers of chaperones and directors so that if they get separated from their group, or have some other issue, they can quickly get hold of an adult. It's a safety issue for us and the longer kids have access to them, the more responsible they seem to be, i.e., they understand when you say, "while we are doing the following activity, please put your electronics away." As far as games and music are concerned, the longer the bus ride, the more diversions some kids need. We usually end up driving overnight to our destination and have a curfew of sorts on the bus when its time to settle down and put stuff away so people who want to can sleep. I've not had any issues that a simple reminder won't take care of. Good luck!
David Headings
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on May 29, 2014 10:55am
Before the proliferation of these devices, I ran a summer outdoor adventure program for a dozen kids at a time, with bus trips of up to 3 hrs to our destinations.  These were mostly 10-12 year olds with a few older and younger.  I had a couple boxes of puzzles that circulated on the bus, including blacksmith or "tavern" puzzles, wooden geometric puzzles, peg-in-hole puzzles and games, magnetic chess and checkers, etc.  Another box had beautifully illustrated books (I refuse to call them "children's" books) with nature themes, plus magazines like Ranger Rick.  These activities would occupy the kids for at least an hour. 
However, the first and most important activity upon departure was to pair up and ask each other "get acquainted" questions from a printed list:  How many brothers and sisters, what's your favorite animal, what's the worst and best thing that ever happened to you outside, what's your favorite sport, do you have any ancestors who are famous within your family, have you ever climbed a mountain--kayaked--snorkeled--cooked over a campfire (these would be the various activities to come), etc. etc.  After 15-20 minutes, I would stop the bus and direct a systematic rotation to new partners.  That would be followed by a half hour or so with the puzzles, then another rotation with the questions.  For variety, I had two or three different sets of 8-10 questions each. 
I also organized students into three or four groups for meal preparation and clean up duties, but also used the groups--as the need arose--for litter pick ups, equipment inventory, etc.  All of these activities could easily be adapted to music organizations.
I agree completely with Carole that we have a responsibility to promote genuine socialization (including among different ages and stages).  Team building should be a part of everything we do, and is recognized as essential by such diverse organizations as Outward Bound, athletic teams, the military, and successful business enterprises.  "Life is the curriculum".  This does not preclude electronics, but they should be limited and we should actively promote friendship and team building activities.        
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