Meet ED Tour Director Tom YoungJeff Buchanan
Meet ED Tour Director Tom Young, who uses his die-hard commitment to excellence and experience to make sure a teacher’s trip is successful.
Rest assured, if the unpredictable happens on your trip, your Educational Destinations Tour Director Tom Young is at your side from start to finish. Excellent ED Tour Directors like Tom tackle the unpredictable and put your trip back on the road. After 35 years of teaching and understanding what directors need on trips, Tom knows what it takes to bring your group the best experience possible.
Tour Director Tom Young grew up in Lancaster, Ohio and was bitten by education and travel bugs early. As a high school sophomore, he was asked to join an NBTA Corps in town. Three months later, he competed with the corps in Honolulu for the World Championships…and won! During Tom’s time with the corps, he traveled and won many State and National titles. His corps was one of the first groups to march at Disney World.
As a college sophomore attending Bowling Green State University (Ohio), Tom traveled to the French Riviera as a guest of the French Government to perform in several parades. Later, he took classes at VanderCook College of Music (Chicago), before beginning his decorated 35-year teaching career.
Once he began teaching, Tom’s band traveled every other year. Favorite destinations included Walt Disney World, Fort Myers, Florida (Edison Festival of Lights Parade), Toronto, and Knoxville, Tennessee (Dogwood Arts Festival). In 2003, Tom’s band had the honor of representing Ohio in England, at London’s New Year’s Day Parade!
Upon retirement, Tom started performing with three big bands, and a rock band. This energetic and personable retiree currently teaches private lessons, works with local marching bands, and serves as a Tour Director for Educational Destinations. Friends always lament that Tom is failing at this retirement thing, but as a former band director, being on the go is a big part of who he is, and being involved in music is in his blood.
Educational Destinations corralled this popular ED Tour Director long enough to get his answers to some questions:
How long have you been a Tour Director for Educational Destinations?
Tom: I have been a Tour Director for ED for three years. My first trips were Pendleton Heights High School Band (IN) to the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade and New York, and Urbana High School Band (MD) to Disney.
What is your background in education?
Tom: I grew up in Lancaster, Ohio, and started trumpet lessons in 5th grade. I received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Bowling Green State University (OH) and a Masters of Music degree from VanderCook College of Music (Chicago). I was a band director in Ohio for 35 years (East Holmes Local – 5 years, Amanda Clearcreek Local – 4 years, and Watkins Memorial High School – 26 years). I am an OMEA Marching Band, Solo & Ensemble and Large Group Adjudicator.
How did you get started tour directing?
Tom: I had a passion for traveling with my own bands when I was teaching. I loved exploring new places and experiencing them with my own students. Earlier in my career, the owner of the local travel company asked me to come work for him, when I retired from teaching. He ended up retiring and closing down his company, before I retired. My last trip as a band director was to Chicago, with Educational Destinations, with Jef Furr as our Tour Director. A year after retirement, I ran into college friend Jeff Buchanan, who said he was looking for someone to help as Tour Director for his trips. The rest, as they say, is history!
How many trips have you tour directed?
Tom: I have tour directed around 20 trips with Educational Destinations.
What is the hardest part of being a successful ED Tour Director?
Tom: The hardest part is dealing with things that are completely out of our control, such as weather or traffic, and trying to anticipate and plan for these issues. As a band director, I was used to wearing many hats. This is true as a Tour Director as well (helping groups and individuals with their travel experience). There is a ton of behind the scenes work to help the trip run smoothly. Dealing with the unexpected can be challenging when our trips are designed with the students in mind. I always ask the parents to think of their last vacation. Did it go exactly as planned and on schedule? After some laughter, I tell them they were dealing with 4-5 people, now multiply that by up to 60.
What is the largest group you have tour directed?
Tom: The largest group was 380 from Carmel High School Band (IN), which performed at the Southern California BOA Regional. I have also been a part of The BOA Honor Band Friends and Family Tour, for the Tournament of Roses Parade, which included 275 parents and other family members of students in the Honor Band. As with any of the ED trips, there is a phenomenal staff that works on every detail to help these trips run smoothly.
Is there something you wish travelers knew before a trip departs?
Tom: ED does a great job of communicating with the travelers. Although always mentioned in departure meetings, it would be great if travelers truly understood the following things before a trip:
- There will be a lot of walking. Be prepared for this and weather conditions (cold, hot, sun, rain).
- Be flexible.
- Please tell us in advance of any special dietary needs. We can accommodate special needs much more efficiently if we know in advance.
- Do some research on your destination in advance, to get the most out of the time you have at the sites visited.
What’s your proudest moment, or a time when you being there made a difference/impact?
Tom: I am terribly proud as I watch each group perform, and to think that I had a small part in helping the students make memories for a lifetime. I enjoy the experience of helping the groups navigate parade performances in Chicago and Philadelphia (Jeffersonville, Urbana, Franklin Central). I was proud of being a part of pulling some strings to get the Heidelberg University Jazz Ensemble the opportunity to perform at a jam session at Kingston Mines in Chicago. I had the opportunity to take Wellston High School (and a former student teacher) to their first BOA Regional. It was so exciting as they finished 2nd in their class, and seeing the excitement from the group and the police escort when they arrived back home at 1:00 a.m. I was also proud of the Liberty Union High School Choir (from my hometown) that was scheduled for a concert in Central Park on St. Patrick’s Day. A heavy snow hit NY 3 days before arrival, and we were able to find a substitute site at a cathedral close to Times Square for our performance.
What is your favorite place to travel/visit with and without groups?
Tom: I would say my favorite is Orlando and the Disney and Universal Parks, followed closely by New York City. I never took my own groups to New York (due to my own fears about the big city), but now I regret that I did not share that with my students. I love listening to the deep and meaningful conversations with the students after they visit the 9/11 Museum. Upon retirement, my wife and I purchased a condo in Myrtle Beach. This is my relaxation place, to go and just sit on the balcony watching the ocean (and of course trying to visit every restaurant there).
What does it take to be a successful ED Tour Director?
Tom: I believe that organization, pre-trip planning, and communication skills are essential. A good Tour Director should be a “people person”, and be able to communicate with a wide variety of personality types before and while on the trip. The realization that the Tour Director is there to serve the travelers is essential. There will be many questions/needs while on the road, and the successful Tour Director can deal with the variety of situations and needs.
What are the benefits of having an ED Tour Director at your side?
Tom: We take care of all of the details and logistics. We are with you from the school departure and can assist if there is a bus issue (and this is from my personal experience with my own band and 2 bus breakdowns in Georgia in the middle of the night). We are there to keep the tour moving, and to problem solve, so the director can concentrate on making music and enjoying the experience with his/her students.
Any advice, or things you want to share with groups considering performance travel?
Tom: I believe it is part of our duties to expose our student musicians to what is going on outside of our own community. The experiences that are provided for the groups are things that the students will be talking about at class reunions well into the future. With my own groups, I found travel inspired them to work harder and to bond as a group at a much higher level. It is important to determine if you want a performance opportunity or a non-performing cultural experience. At ED, there is a great team that, with your input, can help craft a trip that is perfect for your group and will create many great memories.
Do you think you have what it takes to wear the cape and be an ED Tour Director like Tom Young?
Contact a Educational Destinations Travel Designer to start planning your trip!