Band Camp 2011

I’ve been helping with Bookworm’s Band Camp this week, and in consequence have been busier than I’d anticipated. Thought I’d share a few pictures of the fun:

Blocking the first number, march-through with no instruments. It's so humid you can barely see Peak's Knob in the background for the haze.

The chaperones have been setting up tents, icing the Gatorades, preparing set cards, setting up lunch, giving first aid (a couple of twisted ankles, a rash caused by allergic reaction, some minor overheating), cleaning up, and generally being go-fers and fixits.

Members of the flute and alto sax sections, resting under the tents at break time.
Members of the drumline, plus the mellophone section leader, resting under a shade tree at break.

I think camp is going fairly well.  A little intense, maybe, but still, the director is pretty calm and patient, and so are the assistants, both the staff ones and the people pulled in just to help with band camp.   I vividly remember my own band director getting ticked and throwing things.  Not at people intentionally, but still… you ducked if Mr. King was in a temper.

Mr. Butler, at the top of the director's tower. Below and to the left is Cody on the primary drum major's stand. You can't see Charlie on the smaller stand, but she's there too.

Each day, the drum majors have led a “drilldown,” where the band is in a parade block and given audible instructions that they must follow in good order: Mark Time, Forward, Backward, Quarter-turn to the Right/Left, To the Rear, Left/Right Slide, Left/Right Flank, Halt, Parade Rest, etc.  Anybody who screws up has to go to the sidelines, and the last member standing wins.  Bookworm’s done pretty well; she’s usually in the last dozen before she gets tripped up on back-to-back turns.  As you might expect, it’s typically the seniors and section leaders who make it into the later rounds, and the winners so far have been Cooper (senior trumpet), a tie between tenor drum Ben and drumline captain Jolly, and then Jolly on his own.  I can never figure out whether drumline has it easier to march or not, because they don’t do Horns Up/Down commands, and they don’t Slide, either.  They Crab instead.  Bookworm says this is easier, but she might be wrong.  Drum harnesses are heavy, and it always looks to me that they impede leg movement.

Part of the drumline: Ben, Taylor, Jamie, Jolly (Matt), Madison, Brandon, Li'l Bill (yes, he's grown since getting the nickname), and TJ. Jon, the other bass drum player, isn't pictured. Poor Jamie's back was red the next day. He told me he'd sunscreened, but I have my doubts.

I remember the first time Bookworm picked up her instrument: it was five years ago, and it was a clarinet.  The squawking… oh, the squawking.  She got better.  Then she picked up the alto saxophone, because the only kid in her grade at the middle school that played it had moved, and she decided not to go back to clarinet, though she has played bass clarinet in concert band from time to time.  When she was a freshman, the marching band was short on tenor saxes (they’re not this year, four tenors to five altos), and her section leader asked her if she could play a tenor instead.  She could play it, all right, but she’s so short that it kept hitting her in the knees.  She was selected Rookie Marcher of the Year her freshman year, and she’s only gotten better.  I’m proud of her.

Bookworm in the front, in green: Miss Prepared and Paying Attention, being a Good Example. I think she's digging being a section leader.

I’m looking forward to the week being over.  It’s exhausting, and I’m not even there the whole day!  The end-of-camp cookout comes Friday night, and families will get to see the part of the show that the band has prepared that evening.   Turns out we’re not doing that until the night before the first football game, two weeks from now.  


Thursday update:  we had a junior trumpet go down with heat exhaustion this morning, just about the time the kids were ready for their Gatorade/granola bar break at 10:40 a.m.  I don’t think Amy has been hydrating at home very well, and she’s had this happen before at band camp.  It’s not terribly hot – in the 80s – but humid, with no shade on the practice field, and when the kids came to the tents for Gatorade, she just collapsed on the ground and was having trouble breathing.  Her mom had the motorcycle at work with her today, so I took Amy, her mom, and her boyfriend (Jolly) to the emergency room.  Amy was feeling better by the time we got her to the hospital, and she was able to walk and to finish her Gatorade, so they’re just going to rehydrate her by giving her lots to drink (no IVs, since she’s able to consume liquid without help), and watch her until her temperature stabilizes.  Poor kid.


Photos are mine.  (I cannot imagine why my camera thinks it’s April of 2009.  Moreover, I cannot figure out how to fix it. Aargh.)


4 thoughts on “Band Camp 2011”

  1. Hi lady, am really enjoying the adventures of band camp.
    Reminded me of my junior year in the h.s. band flag corps. The first days of camp the girls on either side of me got a teeny bit bruised as it took me a while to get the hang of all the twirling and spinning, etc.. But I remember it being a lot of fun (not to mention getting to go to all the games). And congrats to Bookworm for winning the drilldown! You go, girl!!

    1. Ohhhh, band camp. I was on the drill squad myself, but my school had both a flag squad and, get this, a letter squad. That is, we carried big plywood orange letters with handles on the back, that spelled out W-M B-Y-R-D (William Byrd). Auxiliary judges never knew what standards to hold us to, because sometimes we danced and sometimes we marched around with our letters, and it was so unusual that often we’d get marked down in competitions by judges saying, “What are these big plywood letters doing on the field? Ditch ’em.” And so right after our director was promoted to music administration for the county (the year I graduated), the new band director mothballed them. I miss my letter…

      But band was so much fun.

      And I am very proud of Bookworm! It’s the first time a saxophone player – or indeed, any woodwind – has won a camp drilldown in more than three years.

  2. My son did marching band last year which was all new to me since I never even went to any football games when I was in high school. (Male flutists—not in the majority!! )He just loved it!! He has home band camp week of Aug. 15 and away camp the next week. I was going to volunteer at home band camp on my days off from work but after reading about the girl down this woman going through menopause just might not. Even though I would not be doing anything strenuous heat is not my friend!!!

    1. No, not many male flute players… but he should just go and ROCK THAT FLUTE, man. Sounds like he’s found his place.

      We didn’t do too badly with the heat – the band has a grassy practice field (no way the football team shares the real field until they have to), and the chaperones set up tents on the sidelines, with lots of ice and water. We did shifts, too, which was nice: 7:30 to 1pm, 12:30 to 5, 4:30 to 8pm. It wasn’t bad. Just make sure you’re hydrated, which was the problem with our trumpet player.

      Had a bass drum go out today. We knew he was on a restricted diet, but I thought he just had food allergies. Turns out he has a systemic digestion issue, and he, er, got blocked up this morning. Took him to the hospital to rule out appendicitis, and he was fine and resting a few hours later. Poor TJ.

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