My son is a gifted saxophonist. He shined brightly in his middle school band, as well as in many regional competitions and festivals. Having no musical abilities whatsoever, my husband and I basked in his accomplishments without truly understanding the effort he put forth to achieve them. We assumed that the hour or two he stayed after school was all the commitment necessary to be a successful musician. Then he started high school and joined the band….

Holy Moly. I had NO idea what participation in marching band involved! Practices started the week school ended and have been increasing in intensity ever since. Now we’ve moved into the final stretch of summer and BAND CAMP is upon us. Having been through football camp, baseball camp, cheer camp, dance camp (you get the idea), I thought I was somewhat prepared. I was not. Band camp requires physical stamina, discipline and serious organizational skills- and that’s just for the parents!

Freshmen are feeling their way through these first crazy weeks of band camp. The days are long, hot and tiring but lots of fun! Below are some tips to help your newcomer survive AND thrive!

LOTS OF LIQUIDS

Be sure to stay well-hydrated during the steamy days of band camp. Fill your biggest water bottle (we use a jug) with ice and water and be sure to refill often.

FOOD FOR FUEL

Eat well during these weeks. Hauling instruments around for eight hours a day is surprisingly rigorous and requires healthy meals and snacks.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS

Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are essential for long days in the sun. Lightweight shorts, comfortable shoes, and white t-shirts help as well. Fanny packs will help keep you organized while keeping hands free. If you aren’t a “fan” of the fanny pack, wear some cargo shorts to easily carry notecards, pens or other necessities.

EXTRA ESSENTIALS

Extra items that may be helpful include note cards on a spiral ring, chalk for marking placement, balm for chapped lips, extra instrumental supplies and a poncho (they can’t all be sunny days!).

REST AND REJUVENATE

A good night’s sleep is vital to making it through the long and strenuous days. This really shouldn’t be a problem, though, as odds are good your freshman will fall into bed!

CONTROL THE CLUTTER

It seems the only thing longer than camp days is the time it takes to complete the paperwork! It’s a never-ending barrage of consent forms, order forms, permission slips, medical forms, fundraisers and more.  Keep control of the chaos by keeping everything in one central location (think office file, folder, etc.) and keep the due dates on a checklist on the front.

PARTNER WITH THE PROS

Freshmen will always have to pay their dues as band newbies, but upperclassmen are kinder than we think. Team up with one of the more seasoned participants for advice on how to navigate these new waters.

My rookie is currently in the thick of band camp and seems to be faring well, despite the arduous days. These few common-sense suggestions can help make the new recruits’ time in the trenches a bit more bearable!