One of the side effects of being a so called “expert” in any subject area is that friends and acquaintances often ask your advice. The subject that has come up frequently in the last few days, since I just returned from Winter Jam 2013 in Tampa, FL, is “Is Winter Jam appropriate for my X year old”? The answer is a resounding, definitive, absolute “it depends”.
For uninitiated, Winter Jam is an annual tour featuring many of Christian music’s top artists. Chances are that it is coming to a city near you in the next few months. The environment is absolutely welcoming for children of any age. It’s a typical big concert venue without the drunks, cursing, fighting, and faint smell of pot that usually accompanies a show of this size. If a family friendly environment was the only criteria, Winter Jam would be an unambiguous go for all elementary age children. But as with most parenting issues, it isn’t that simple.
Younger elementary age students will be challenged by the volume levels. Little ears are not accustomed to pounding mega-decibels being pumped out by the massive arrays of speakers throughout the venue. In many cases it will be more than a 5- or 6-year-old can take. The other problem for youngsters is the length of the event. The pre-show begins at 5 pm and the show runs until 10 or later. And no matter whether you choose the $10 at the door option or one of the more expensive and exclusive options, you will need to arrive at least a couple hours before the doors open. Add in travel time to and from and you’ve got one long day, replete with periods of overstimulation mixed with long intervals of waiting.
The show itself is great. TobyMac (pictured) is the headliner of the 2013 Winter Jam Tour and he puts on an incredible show. Of all the bands, only one, Red, would likely turn off most early elementary students. The rest are friendly hip-hop style acts with catchy tunes and wholesome lyrics. The value is unbeatable. Ten acts for 10 dollars is a better deal than you could hope for. It just comes down to your individual child and his or her tolerance for a long, loud day.