You may have noticed that I posted a few Instagram pics from Reno. Let me tell you about this trip, buckle up for a long ride.
(Last chance to get out; the short version is that we carpooled a couple of the high school bands from the SF Bay Area to Reno for a jazz festival. Our advanced band took third in their category.)
A month or so ago, my wife asked if I wanted to chaperone a band trip with her. We figured it might be fun to have a quick trip to Reno on the chartered bus, and we’d get to see our kid play. So she volunteers us. She’s already a registered volunteer, but I’m not. Turns out they’d like to do a background check on me before they let me take the high school girls across state lines. That’s reasonable I guess.
Well that was a huge pain in the ass. Getting it scheduled, that is. This one woman in the district office does the scheduling. She first insists that all the fingerprinting appointments are full. We ask if we can go have the police do it or something. No we cannot. SO what do we have to do? Go get the principle from the high school to write her an email telling her to do it. So we talk to the principal, who talks to the band director, who confirms that yes, we need these chaperones for this trip. Principal emails her write away.
Then over the next three weeks, I leave 5 voicemails for her, none of which she answers. I went by her office three times and talked to her in person, “Oh so-and-so will call you to schedule.” Nothing. Finally on my last trip, she actually calls and makes me an appointment right then and there, for the next day. I get fingerprinted and photographed, easy as can be.
I finally get the official volunteer badge. The morning I’m supposed to leave on the trip.As in, after a month, they got it done with only abut 7 hours to spare. Makes you feel like volunteering to help out the schools, doesn’t it?
So yeah, the trip. We had a chartered bus that the district has hired for us. On Wednesday, we find out that our bus has broken down. Well the bus company has another, right? No. Can we get one from somewhere else? No, we checked with all the district-approved bus companies. Yeah, you can’t book a bus with 2 days notice, go figure. Can we have a bus from a non-district-approved bus company? No. We check anyway, they’re all booked up. You still can’t get a bus with 2 days notice.
Next down the list get 3 of the big 12-passenger vans and drive up ourselves. We have about 25 kids, originally 3 chaperones, and one band director. Nope the district couldn’t get those rentals together in time either. So with about 5 hours to go, we get all the parents who are registered volunteers to drive their own vehicles. So a round of insurance forms from each driver, and a new additional permission slip from each kid. Done with about 2 hours to spare.
With 4 or 5 kids per car, we now have these extra parents who will be there. The hotel is booked full of course, so no good option for extra rooms. We shuffle things.. one of the couples has family in the area they can stay with… ok.
We get on the road at 4:00-something PM Friday, stop at an In-and-Out on the way, get in around 10:00 to check into the hotel. I drove the whole way, wife has a bad back which makes it hard on her.
Took the kids bowling at a place in Sparks until about Midnight, then lights out. Chaperone’s job for the night is to tape the kids’ doors once they are in, and check the tape in the morning when they wake up. Wife and I got to sleep from about 1:00-7:00, and got cleaned up. Unseal the kids at 8:00, and tell them to be downstairs with luggage and instruments, in performance clothes at 8:50. We didn’t seem to have any escapees, though my wife smelled cigarette smoke in the troublemaker’s room. (This is relative troublemaker, mind you. They’re band kids.)
Ate breakfast at the hotel, it was pretty good. Then load the kids up and head to the college where the jazz festival was held. Spent the day herding kids around. Warms-ups, performances, workshops, pictures, etc…
Both our bands did pretty darn well, we thought. The judges not as much. We’re biased of course, but we know our kids did well, and we saw some of the other bands, and how they scored… Judges on crack. Anyway…
Our band director was pretty ticked. We went to dinner at an all-you-can-eat college cafeteria buffet-style place there on campus until about 6:30. The awards and selected bands program also started at 6:30, and the band director was thinking about blowing it off. But he thought our Ensemble band might place, despite the low-ish score. (They give you three integer rating numbers, but you can’t tell if it’s point-something in the actual calculations, they round down.)
Sure enough, our Ensemble band took third in their division. So that’s something. Unfortunately, our Workshop band didn’t place, and they did a really good job. Several of those kids were a bit dejected.
Since I was driving back, I napped in the car from 6:30 until about 8:30 when they got done. Then drove straight through after getting gas. Got back to the high school just about 12:30AM this morning.
If you’re curious, my kid is the tall white boy playing trumpet in the back in Ensemble, and trombone in Workshop in the pics I posted. (There is overlap between the bands. They will often have the advanced kids play a different instrument in Workshop to fill the band out. They always need trombones.)
So if you’re in Reno and I didn’t have a chance to stop and say Hi to you, that’s why. :)
That was my weekend. Followed by church this morning, and hopefully mostly relaxing the rest of the day.