I also bonded a lot with my four charges. My group ranged in age from 10 to 13 years old, and they're a lot of fun (unless they didn't get a lot of sleep... then they were just cranky). My role was part mother, part chaperone and part friend. I noticed that we went from polite to comfortable in a matter of days. When they boys came back from their billet homes in the morning, they came over to hug me and told me about their night. The boys weren't allowed to contact their families at all while on tour (no phone calls, no emails), so I was the closest thing they had to a mom for three weeks. Luckily, my group didn't suffer any major homesickness. Pretty remarkable, considering it was the first tour for two of the boys. I didn't really get homesick either. Although I did miss certain things: my dog, my own bed, my cell phone. I kept in touch with most of my family and friends through email and myspace, and I called my parents after every flight, to let them know we landed safely. And all of the families at home followed us by reading the tour blog, which was updated on a regular basis by one of the choir directors.
Like I said, we all fell into tour routine rather quickly. I was exhausted by 9:30 every night, but I was having so much fun that I didn't care. One morning, another chaperone (who has been on all six concert tours) asked me, "Would you do this again?" I answered without hesitation: "Absolutely." I knew it would be a lot of work, and I knew we would have free time... but I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did.
A big part of the tour routine was travel. It involved a lot of walking (oh, the blisters!) and a lot of bus rides and a LOT of flights. I used to be afraid of flying. Prior to tour, I'd only flown to and from Florida three times (which is only an hour long flight) and to and from London once (which is an eight hour flight). That's eight flights in 29 years. By the end of this tour, I had survived a total of TEN flights in three weeks. And two of those were about thirteen hours long. But by week two of the trip, flying had become such a part of the routine that I didn't even think about it anymore. In fact, I began to look forward to flying. It was down time for me, which gave me time to read, write postcards, journal, watch movies, or nap.
Flying was just part of the experience... and it was truly an amazing experience for these boys (and for the chaperones!). In addition to performing, they got to hold a koala, eat crocodile and emu meat, feed a kangaroo, see the sun rise and set at Uluru, and perform for people all over the country. How many other boys their age can claim so many life-changing experiences?
When we hit the halfway mark of the tour, it was hard to believe it. In some ways, it felt like we had just gotten there. In other ways, it felt like months since I'd left my home. By week two, I couldn't decide if I was tired of it, or if I didn't want it to end. I think it was a little of both. If week one was all about adjustment, then week two's theme was definitely enjoyment. I think we did our most exciting sight-seeing during our second week.
Week Two in a Nutshell
Adelaide (July 9-13)
- Visited Cleland Wildlife Park, where we got to see Australian animals like koalas, dingoes, kangaroos, emus, and Tasmanian devils
- Watched the boys perform at Adelaide Town Hall
- Stayed overnight at Ayers Rock Campground, where I shared a cabin with my four boys
- Saw the sun rise and set at Uluru
- Went to the Pioneer Barbecue for dinner, where we grilled our own meat... and got to taste kangaroo and emu!
- Saw an amazing night sky at the campground, including the Milky Way, the Southern Cross, Jupiter and Venus
- Went for camel rides
- Learned about Aboriginal culture (including how to throw a spear)
- Took a ferry ride across Sydney Harbour, where we saw the famous Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Saw the boys sing at Sydney Town Hall
- Went to an Aussie Rules footy game at Sydney Football Stadium (Sydney Swans vs. Carlton Blues)
- Visited the ANZAC Memorial (Australia New Zealand Army Corps)