Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Disneyland, far from home.

Ever gone to Disneyland?  How about for three days and two nights, with 75 fifteen-year-olds?  And only two teachers?  Yeah, there were more than a half dozen more adults, but parents are not used to ordering around that many kids they don’t know.

In 2001, the Dance Company of the school I was at was invited to perform at both of the Disneyland Parks (California Adventure was still fairly new).  It was quite an honor,and the trip was actually a lot of fun, but not without some, uh, ‘experiences’.  On the airplane, not including 1st Class, we took up close to ¾ of the seats.   They were pretty well behaved on the plane, although a businessman made the mistake of falling asleep next to a couple of the boys.  They didn’t seem to bug him, but later I saw a few pictures of the guy with one of the kids pretending to sleep leaning up against him.

We got from the airport to the hotel without any lost kids or other incidents, but were unhappily surprised when we got there.  We had specifically asked for rooms in separate wings of the building, in order to separate the boys from the girls.  The had told us that we could be accommodated, yet when we got there all the  rooms were in the same wing.  We tried to do our best, arranging the boys on one floor and the girls on another, but this ended up placing a room of boys two stories above a room of girls, with regular guests in between.  This, as you can imagine, caused some problems.  Once they realized they were right above one another, they were yelling up and down the side of the building at each other.   The manager had to come ask me to get them to stop, the regular customers had complained, and I told him that I would take care of it, but reminded him that we had asked for separate wings just because of things like this.   Other than that the kids were reasonably good, except for the group I was directly in charge of.  My group a) broke a bed, b) knocked down an Exit sign playing football in the hall and c) discovered that it took 1½ rolls of  toilet paper to plug up their toilet.  I made them a) pay for the broken bed, b) reattach the Exit sigh and c) borrow a plunger from the front desk until the toilet was working again.  Fortunately I had a good relationship with these kids, so they didn’t even argue about their consequences, just paid the money and  fixed the stuff.

Once we were in the park, things were great.  The dances went off without a hitch, and since the parks are designed for kids, as soon as we got them through the gates we chaperones were off duty.  Only thing we were supposed to do, but not required, was to show up for the dances for a show of support, which we wanted to do anyhow. 

The last day we left for the airport giving enough time to stop by the ocean for an hour or so.  It was quite relaxing, after the hustle and bustle of the amusement parks, to just sit there on the beach and watch the kids running around.  Perfect end to the trip, because I can’t even remember the rest so there couldn’t have been much going on .


PastorMac's Ann said...

Sounds like quite an adventure! Love the pictures - especially the ones on the beach.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I am surprised u didn't have more chaparones.. I could see one per 10 kids? So, did the parents know there were only 2 adults? Hope the mental stress of the trip has worn off.. Next year I am sure u will be remembering the fun parts... I can imagine the energy level on that plane!. lol

Max said...

Ann - Thanks. Actually, it was one of my favorite trips, a lot of good laughs.
KBF - This was just about 10 years ago, but even at the time I had a lot of fun. I was really impressed with the way the boys handled the broken bed, they didn't try to hide from it all. The called me right up, told me what happened and asked what they should do. The only favor they asked for was that I be the one to talk to the front desk about it. Also, there were about 8 or so adults, just that only 2 of us were teachers, trained to deal with huge groups of kids.

Carmi said...

You have a backbone of steel! To take on that kind of responsibility is remarkable...I doubt I'd have the fortitude.

I especially love how you laid out the experience. The narrative is priceless, almost like I was witnessing it with my own eyes. You are a truly gifted storyteller.

The new theme, blue, may zing all of us in a different direction. I'm willing to bet you've got ample material to work with :)

Max said...

I know, it's insane, but I actually like taking trips like that with the kids. I also went with the Social Studies teacher when she took 60 or so 7th graders (12 yrs old) down to Mesa Verde. It's a lot different than being in the classroom.