When the boys arrived in the parking lot following their home stays, the melancholy feel of the last big travel day of the tour was evident. They knew that they had 6.5 hours of travel ahead of them on the road to Fond du Lac. Since we had a lot of free time on our hands, we entertained ourselves in various ways. Mrs. Steffan each day has been giving awards to all of the boys. These have ranged from most distinctive voice, best smile, to quickest recovery from a suddenly loosened tie. The boys looked forward to the awards each day, wondering when their turn would come. The boys today came up with awards for their own chaperones. Earlier in the tour, all the female chaperones received funny hats from the boys and Dr. Williams received Dorothy braids in honor of our proximity to Kansas. The chaperone awards are stated below:
Mr. Ross got the “Perfectionist, Professional” award. As all of you know by now, the excellence of this choir and the life lessons they receive by being in this choir are a direct result of his influence on the boys and this organization. All the boys enjoy the excellence of their musical education and it is nice to see that they realize it is because of Mr. Ross' relentless pursuit of perfection.
Mrs. Knight received the ‘Very Nice Smile’ award. The boys felt that whenever they looked at her on stage and off they enjoyed seeing her smiles of encouragement. The future of our choir is the young boys who ascend to the performing choir. With Mrs. Knight our prospects are excellent.
The ‘Always smiling’ award went to Mrs. Mary Jo Ross for her wonderful demeanor and sunny disposition. She was the perfect saleswoman at the CD table. Her quiet demeanor belies strength of character that we have all come to know and love. And when she laughs really hard, tears stream down her cheeks.
The ‘Best Chaperone Ever’ award went to Mrs. Kathy Walls who was the one who got ‘in the mix’ with the boys. The boys went after her in laser tag, because of her army training, and she rode roller coasters till she dropped at Worlds of Fun. She was also our unofficial liaison with Gary, the bus driver whom she bonded with due to their military background. For the record, she outranked him.
Dr. Farion Williams won the ‘Recovering Dr. Pepper Addict’ award. He has been trying to give up that brand of soda during tour and has lost weight. In fact when he was at Worlds of Fun, he tried the ‘guess your weight’ game and thought the carnival barker had guessed too low, but as he stepped on the scale it didn’t go up as high as he expected, but he still won a basketball by the margin of one pound. Dr. Williams is a cheerful and tireless worker who is good to the core. We could not have asked for a more compassionate and professional tour physician.
Our mistress of the wardrobe, Mrs. Steffan, received the 'Most Positive' award. As a teacher, she realizes that the best way to change boys behavior is by positive reinforcement. She doesn't yell or scream, she talks and explains. The boys have absolutely adored her methods and love to talk and joke with her, especially the younger boys. And with her and Mrs. Walls the wardrobe has been crisp and the routine of changes and returns of clothing are organized and efficient.
The ‘Best in Show’ award went to our tour director, Pam Hasting. For what reason, we are not really sure. Jake Hier’s rambling announcement left us all laughing and confused. She was a favorite of the boys due to her quick wit and easygoing nature. The time that she has put in to make this tour a success boggles the imagination. She is what made this tour run as smoothly as it did. This position is an extremely thankless one, so please be sure to express your gratitude to her for a job well done.
I then surveyed the boys on what were the most memorable parts of tour. A large percentage of the boys liked the City Museum in St. Louis. They cited the chance to be a child again and climb on a giant jungle gym. They described it as a large interactive sculpture or piece of art that one can admire as well as climb on. They liked the fact that you had to contort yourself and climb awkwardly to achieve an apex from which they could slide down. Many of them liked the large ball pit where they made it into one large game of dodge ball. Other boys like the Arch where they liked the birds-eye view of the city as well the scenic vista of the Mississippi river extending alongside the city.
Still others felt that the highlight of their tour was the day we spent at Worlds of Fun riding the roller coasters, water rides and the spinning rides. There were a few boys who enjoyed the Baldknobbers preshow, and many of them cited the home stays and the opportunity to meet new people and choirs. But one of the boys summed it up best when he said the best part is hanging out with your old friends and getting to know some new ones. The best memories of tour will be the heartfelt talks between boys, as they discuss dreams, aspirations, philosophy and of course, girls.
We arrived in Fond du Lac about 20 minutes late and then after a quick rehearsal, were treated to a dinner of tacos. Many of the senior boy's parents came to the last concert to see them sing in Kantorei for the last time. The finality of finishing high school and moving on seems to hit many of them on this night. As we sat at the ice cream social after the concert, the parents and chaperones offered their congratulation and thanks for making it through and being a positive role model for the younger boys. The home stay families took the boys away and we as chaperones prepared for our last day on tour.