When it comes to sporting events, there are many unique variables to consider, especially when it comes to the niche of youth travel.
It’s a whole different ball game when you’re managing a group of people under 18 on and off fields, courts, rinks, or other sports venues.
Whether you are a full-time meeting professional or part-time volunteer working with events, there are some special considerations and plans to put in place to make sure your children are safe and have a great time.
Hotels vary in their rules and regulations with youth groups.
Most importantly, share the rules ahead of time with parents, chaperones, and the kids. It’s a good reminder to share this multiple times, including when you arrive. In your itinerary, include a team meeting when you arrive to review expectations. No one wants a knock on the door from security complaining about kids playing hockey in the lobby.
Communication is key. Be sure to provide the hotel staff with a contact list and cell numbers to easily communicate any issues or concerns during your stay. It’s generally a good idea to have one person pick up all the room keys and distribute them, this avoids chaos and confusion at the front desk. Once the keys are handled, you can distribute to chaperones and parents (preferably with a hotel map).
Does your group like to socialize? With many sporting groups, kids, parents, and coaches like to gather during non-competition time. Instead of overtaking a hotel lobby, reserve an area for your group. It could be a hospitality suite or even a meeting room. This is perfect for informal or formal gatherings and even group meals. Watching your budget? Ask for a room where you are allowed to order from outside the hotel or see if they offer some casual and inexpensive options like pizza or other kid friendly menus.
Based on Sean’s experience he offers some crucial tips to ensure safety and peace of mind during youth travel and sporting competitions.
• Know your venues. Know emergency procedures, contacts, and plans. Inform participants, chaperones, and adult leaders of plans, including evacuation plans, meeting locations, and other procedures. A written plan, no matter how simple should be developed and shared with proper authorities.
• Meet with local emergency authorities (police, fire, EMS) to give them details of your event. Inform them of the nature of the event, expected crowds, and let them know that many participants are under the age of 18.
• Consider having EMS or Public Safety onsite even for smaller events or those in which the venue may not require such presence.
• Keep a database of emergency contacts and chaperones.
• Have access to medical releases for participants who are under 18 so there is no delay in access to medical care. While EMS will treat those under 18 with no parental authorization in a true emergency, having access to medical releases including known allergies and medications makes the emergency response smoother.
• Have plans in place for lost/misplaced children or participants. If budget and logistics allow, have all participants wear a wristband or other ID that contains emergency contact information.
Youth travel is not necessarily all fun and games, but with proper preparation and planning, everyone can stay safe and enjoy the camaraderie and team spirit – which is really what youth sports should be all about!