Chaperones assist not only their dioceses, but also the NFCYM in providing an experience that is both fun and safe for young people. Many dioceses have in place their own chaperone formation programs that address their specific needs while other diocese have not yet developed such programs. Because chaperones serve both their dioceses and NFCYM, as delegation leader you are asked to find a way to impart the following information in advance of departure from home to the adults traveling with your delegation. NFCYM believes that informed chaperones make the best chaperones.
Advance formation can take place in many ways, from face-to-face meetings conducted by you or by parish/school group leaders to a series of informational messages emailed directly to each chaperone to web-based materials. You should design a process that works for your delegation's size and diocesan geography. Regardless of how chaperone formation is conducted, you are strongly encouraged to provide opportunities for chaperones to meet the young people who will be in their care before leaving for Indianapolis. This will help the chaperones and young people recognize each other, learn each other's names, and a little about one another, which should make the chaperones' job a great deal easier on site.
NFCYM requires that chaperones be at least 21 years of age and appropriately screened and trained for service per the diocese's safe environment/youth protection policies. NFCYM suggests that delegations have both male and female chaperones in proportion to the gender make-up of the delegation. Further, NFCYM suggests that dioceses require chaperones to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages for the duration of NCYC, including travel to and from Indianapolis.
NFCYM Adult Code of Conduct
Young people are the most important gifts God entrusts to us. As an adult participant in an NFCYM-sponsored youth event, all adults must agree to abide by the NFCYM Adult Code of Conduct. The code outlines both appropriate and inappropriate behaviors for adults working with young people. While adults do not sign the code of conduct directly, it is referenced in the NCYC adult release form which all adult participants are required to submit. You should keep at least one copy of this form to return to the chaperone on site. It should be placed into the name badge holder. It can act as a reminder of what the chaperone has agreed to do (and not to do) and it also contains a broad "permission to treat" in the event of an emergency.
While chaperones will likely be aware of most of the following, it is always good to provide a review.
- Chaperones must adhere to the NFCYM Adult Code of Conduct.
- Chaperones should review the NFCYM Youth Code of Conduct with the youth assigned to their care and supervision as chaperones are responsible for helping enforce it. If a person is engaging in appropriate and/or unsafe behavior, chaperones should not hesitate take appropriate corrective action. This should be done in as pastoral way as possible.
- Chaperones, as well as youth, are expected to attend all conference activities. This means that while breaks should be taken for meals and personal care, attendees should not just "hang out" in hallways, other public spaces in the convention center, or on the streets or in the shops in Indianapolis.
- During all conference activities, especially the recreational/social activities on Saturday afternoon, chaperones should be available and supervising all youth.
- Chaperones should not go anywhere during NCYC where youth are not permitted (i.e. cocktail lounges, bars, etc.).
- Chaperones are responsible for enforcing the NCYC curfew. NFCYM has set 12 a.m. as the latest young people should be out of their hotel sleeping rooms. An earlier curfew or extension (to allow for a delegation gathering) may be set by the delegation leader only. Chaperones do not have the authority to extend the curfew.
- Chaperones should be sure that all youth participants have the following information:
- Hotel Name and Telephone Number
- Delegation Leader's Name and Mobile Number
- Chaperone's Name and Mobile Number
- Bus Number and Pick Up Zone
- Emergency Meeting Location
- Chaperones should review key program information with youth. Help the young people become familiar with the layout of the facilities, review safety information, and help plan breakout session choices.
- Chaperones should designate a place where young people can locate them at set intervals throughout the day. This meeting place should be in a public and identifiable part of the convention center and not obstruct the flow of foot traffic. Hallways, stairs, doorways, and escalators are off limits as meeting points.
- Chaperones are expected to maintain the separation of boys and girls in sleeping rooms at hotels. If boys and girls are found in the same sleeping room, the chaperone should notify the delegation leader immediately. NOTE: If an adult must enter a youth sleeping room, a second adult should be present.
- At your request or at designated times, chaperones should check to make sure that young people are in their assigned sleeping rooms and not in the lobby, hallways, or stairs. Hotel staff/security may question youth's presence in the lobby or corridors, especially after curfew, as well as investigate complaints of excessive noise coming from sleeping rooms. NOTE: If an adult must enter a youth sleeping room, a second adult should be present.
- Chaperones should have your cell number in case of emergency. You may wish to define what constitutes an emergency that requires notifying you (ie. Trip to the hospital).
- Before leaving the hotel each day, chaperones should be sure they and each of "their" young people are dressed appropriately and have everything they will need for the day, including: NCYC name badge; NCYC program book; copies of their NCYC Release Form and Medical Permission Form; and a coat/jacket/sweater as appropriate for the weather. It's helpful to make sure youth do not have things they will not need. The more they carry the more there is to lose.
Depending on the size of your delegation, every chaperone might not need to know every detail of what is happening within the delegation. Nonetheless, you should have plan for regularly communicating on-site with your chaperones. The better informed and prepared chaperones are the better they can assist you in shepherding your delegation.
All participants should keep a copy of their medical permission form with them at all times. This includes adults. The medical permission form is provided the diocese. NFCYM does not provide this form.
If someone becomes ill during the conference, chaperones should know the diocesan guidelines for the appropriate action to be taken (who to contact and when; who administers medications, etc.). First aid and emergency medical assistance are available during program hours at the stadium and convention center. If a situation occurs during non-programming hours, your hotel front desk staff should be able to assist with contacting appropriate medical assistance. Medication, even over-the-counter, should not be shared. It is especially important to track youth who are taking any type of medication, but be sure to track adults who are taking medication, too. In an emergency, medical personnel will need to know what the patient has taken and when.
Caring for Chaperones
Be sure that chaperones are prepared for the physical experience as well as the religious one. Good shoes, good hydration, a snack or two, acknowledgment of their assistance, and a decent amount of sleep will help keep everyone focused on having a good experience overall. If you can bring “extra” adults who can do nighttime room checks and hallway patrol, you can allow those who are directly responsible for youth to retreat to their rooms upon return to the hotel. If you can’t bring additional adults, try to schedule chaperones in groups for morning and evening duties such that all chaperones get a decent amount of sleep. A tired chaperone may not be the most effective chaperone.