SparkNotes Blog

How to Survive High School Band Camp

Millymellophone is back with another hilarious guide to life in marching band!—Sparkitors

Hello, and welcome to band camp. Please run a lap and grab your instrument. What’s that, you’re in pit/front ensemble? No matter, you probably still have to learn the basics. Oh, and meet your drum major(s), also known as supreme marching overlords. And would you just look at that? It’s a hundred degrees up in here! Overwhelmed yet? Don’t fret! You’ve come to the right place for band camp survival.

1. Bring water. So much water. Every year, there’s that one kid who passes out at band camp. Don’t let it be you! A tell-tale sign that you are dehydrated would be collapsing on the field and flapping your tail while gulping for moisture.

2. Push-ups and laps are a part of at least one band camp that I know of. This is a little trick stolen from drum corps and actually does help the band. Be sure to give your push-ups decent effort, or else your band director and drum majors may give you noogies (it’s in the handbook).

3. Early is on time. Even if this isn’t your band’s motto (it’s ours!) you should always arrive a few minutes early to band camp. Remember that you need time to gather your things (you probably play an instrument) and get to the field.

4. Remember your coordinates. In marching band, coordinates are synonymous with “Bible.” They are a list of all the places you need to be during the show (2.5 steps outside the left 25 yard line, for example), and when in the music you need to be there. Forgetting one’s coordinates may result in banishment from all that is holy. Also a lap.

5. Snacks are a good idea. Some bands, like mine, have a band camp with long stretches of activity. During water breaks, it can’t hurt to grab some Cheetos. Don’t bring anything un-wrapped or meltable, however, unless you want your snack to become sideline gunk.

6. Dress athletically. Nobody else will look cute, I promise—it’s marching band. Rain gear is helpful, especially when a hurricane is in the area. Additionally, you’ll want to keep your hair out of your face to preserve your peripheral vision. Don’t take a mellophone to the back of the head. It hurts. I would know.

7. Your section leaders probably know what they’re doing. If they tell you that you’re out of step or not doing something correctly, they’re likely right. If your section leader is a generally terrible person, you can utilize the “sarcastic ‘thank you.’” This is an advanced technique, so be sure to use it sparingly—don’t get caught!
(ex: Section leader: “You’re half a step off from where you’re supposed to be! Get it right, inferior marcher!“
You: “Gee, thanks, section leader.”)

8. Have fun! At first, band camp may feel completely insane. (“I have to play and march?!”) However, nothing can compare to the feeling of marching your field show at halftime with all of your friends. Did I leave that out? You’re going to make tons of friends. Granted, some of them may enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons twelve hours a day, but a few of them will be normal kids who are also in band (a rare breed).

All in all, band camp will lead to one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life—marching band! Even if you’re not sure about band, you should try it out for at least a year—can’t hurt! Just don’t quit after you’ve signed up. It will result in a hole in the field show where a person (you) should be, and may cause the entire marching band to march to your house, flaming clarinets in hand, and end all that you love in a fit of roll-stepping fury. So good luck this year!

Onward, brave souls, to band camp! To all you band camp vets out there: what are your tips for survival?

Related post: Blogging Band Camp