REGARDING SUPERVISION and SAFETY at the UNCG Summer Music Camp
We sometimes receive questions about the supervision of music campers at UNCG. This information is provided to explain, in general, how we approach matters of supervision, safety and health related matters.
All campers are housed in various UNCG residence halls near the Music Building. Nearly all campers are housed two students per room. Most come with a roommate in mind and we put them together. Those that do not come with a roommate take “pot luck” but we do our very best to put them with someone their own age or within one year of their age.
Often I receive a question regarding the ratio of students to counselors. The answer is a little involved, so I will provide some perspective. In the high-rise dorms, we usually have 40 – 42 campers staying on a floor and there are always 3 counselors on a floor and sometimes 4. So, in the dorm, the ratio of counselors to students ranges from 14 to 1 to 10.5 to 1 (if 4 counselors on that floor).
In an ensemble setting, such as a Junior Band or Senior Band, we have 90 to 95 students, one conductor and 5 rehearsal assistants (who are also the dorm counselors). So, a ratio of about 15 to 1 if you include the conductor. This would likely equate to about 3 to 6 times as many supervisors present in a band rehearsal compared to your high school or middle school.
In a typical week of music camp at UNCG, we host 1,000 students in all and maintain a total paid staff of 140 professionals: conductors, counselors/rehearsal assistants, administrative personnel, private lesson teachers, piano teachers, classroom teachers and nurses. In all, the ratio of camp students to camp employees is (1000 divided by 140) or about 7 to 1.
At the very first meeting of their band, orchestra, chorus or piano group, we spend nearly an hour going over the rules, camp policies, expectations, safety orientation, and how to obtain assistance from any staff member. All of the campers wear a colored plastic ID bracelet so we know who they are. All of the staff wear a similar bracelet in a different color – the staff bracelets are all red and highly visible. At this first meeting, the instructions regarding where they may go and where they may go on and around campus are made extremely clear. They are instructed in the safety of how to cross a street, not going anywhere alone, how to find assistance, not riding in a car during camp, making new friends, being on time, how to find their private lesson, and so forth. Students may also ask questions and we make the lecture as interactive as possible. It is essential to us that every students knows exactly how to be safe, what is expected of them for the week, and where to go for assistance.
UNCG Summer Music Camp Policy on Bullying
Bullying is when one or more people exclude, tease, taunt, gossip, hit, kick, or put down another person with the intent to hurt them. Bullying happens when a person or group of people try to exercise power over another person and use this power to get their way at someone else’s expense. Bullying is hurtful regardless of what form it takes. In extreme cases, it can escalate until people are physically harmed.
Bullying is not tolerated at the UNCG Summer Music Camp. We have a firm policy against all types of bullying. We work as a team to ensure that campers gain self-confidence, make new friends, and go home with great memories. Campers who are bullied may go home with negative memories about camp even if everything else about their camp experience was positive.
In your UNCG Summer Music Camp Handbook which is mailed to all campers and parents, it states: A camper may be expelled from camp without refund for any disrupting behavior that endangers or detracts from the camp experience of other camp students.
Our camp staff takes all instances of bullying seriously. We train our staff to promote good communication between campers and staff so that everyone is comfortable alerting us about bullying. Every person has the right to expect to have the best possible experience at camp, and by working together as a team to identify and manage bullying, we can help ensure that all campers and staff have a great week of music at the UNCG Summer Music Camp.
When students return to the dorm on Sunday night following that first rehearsal, they have a dorm floor meeting during which they meet the 3 or 4 counselors on their floor. They also have a safety orientation meeting at the dorm led by their counselors which includes knowing exactly where their floor counselors live (there is a sign on each counselor door), fire safety, bathroom etiquette, getting up in the morning, use of the elevators, time for lights out, and so forth.
Are they with a counselor “at all times?” No. They have some limited freedoms and move about the campus from place to place on their own, but in groups of 2 or more. We take attendance at every single event – first thing and we employ about 10 – 12 people whose full-time job it is to keep track of any tardy students or missing from rehearsal students, etc. And, those same 10 – 12 people keep track of the illnesses, trips to the nurse, etc. At all times, we have one or two minivans “cruising” the campus with a camp staff member (with a cell phone) – just anticipating what possible problems might exist or be coming, including weather-related issues such as a thunder storm.
From 3:00 to 5:00 pm free time, the camp students may visit a very limited one-block stretch of Tate Street which adjoins the campus where there are shops and eateries. The shop owners are contacted in advance by us they all have our phone numbers. During those times, we “station” 4 or 6 counselors up and down that one block stretch to “patrol” for whatever might be occurring. Those counselors are visible to the campers and merchants. Also, during free time, students may visit the Elliott University Center, our student union, where they may shop in the bookstore, at a convenience store, a coffee shop, or visit a few fast-food restaurants (for a snack). Four of our large ensembles (bands or orchestras) rehearse for the week in the Elliott University Center and during free time we have 3 or 4 extra counselors stationed there to assist campers or watch for rowdy behavior.
Sometimes I am asked “Just who are these counselors anyway?” About 50% of them are current music teachers: band, choir and orchestra directors working in public schools across the Carolinas and Virginia. The other 50% of them are music majors at UNCG or elsewhere (but mostly UNCG) from the “rising Junior in college level” or older including many masters degree students and many doctoral degree students. The very youngest counselor we ever hire would be 19 or 20 years old and there are only 4 or 5 of them (out of 90) who are that young. The median age for counselors at the Music Camp is about 24 years of age and all 80+ of them are career musicians. Many of our counselors have worked for the UNCG Summer Music Camp for five or more years and have successful teaching careers of their own. There are four or five head counselors who supervise the counselors, depending on the number of residence halls in use that summer. Those are all experienced school music teachers who have worked at our Music Camp for the previous 12 years to 35 years.
To further insure safety at the UNCG Summer Music Camp, our counselors and teachers all have undergone a criminal background check. Of course, they are all very well known to us to begin with.
We have successfully hosted about 60,000 students since 1983 at the UNCG Summer Music Camp. We take enormous pride in what we do and in the responsibility which comes with having so many students entrusted to us. As the founder and director of the UNCG Summer Music Camp, I assure you that in the previous 29 years, we have safely delivered each and every camper back to mom and dad at the end of the week. Could something happen – yes, of course. Are we slack in any respect about the care, safety and well being of our music camp students? I truly believe that we are not.
You might ask the music teacher at your school if they can tell you who else has been to the UNCG Music Camp from your school or your town and then speak to a few parents to get their impressions of “how things work” at our camp.
I sometimes say to interested but apprehensive parents, “We did not become the most popular music camp in America by being lax regarding supervision or safety.”
John R. Locke, Director