Band Camp Survival Guide

All students who will be performing need to attend.


The Camp occurs two weeks before school starts (check the website for this year’s dates) and consist of five full days 9am-5pm and five full days of 9am-9pm to teach all band and guard students this year’s field show, how to march/move, how to play and perform well outdoors and how to become a contributing member of the group. 

You do not want to miss camp because the staff cannot hold a spot in the show for you if you are not there during camp. Camp is mandatory, most students who miss camp usually are alternates for the field show. Alternates do perform in shows by playing their instrument while standing on the sidelines. Alternates still practice and shadow someone during rehearsals but do not actually march during field tournament competitions. 

Sometimes new students have difficulty with coordination of marching and/or playing their instruments at the same time and will sometimes be designated as an alternate to ease the pressure. Being an alternate can be beneficial to a student who is having difficulty their first year and allow them to hone their skills at marching and or playing their instrument more proficiently. Most students who are alternates their first year will march 10th grade on.

Camp is a place to have fun while learning to play/use your instrument/guard work. While you are there to work and learn, it doesn’t have to be torture, and can actually be part of the best days of your high school life.

Things You’ll Need

Your instrument

A backpack

Water Jug

Sunscreen and chap stick

Hat, sun glasses

Athletic Tennis type shoes

Music , in a binder with plastic slip-covers to protect them

drill sheets and dot books, pencil.

Proper emergency instrument supplies (Slide/Valve Oil, Cork grease, Reeds)

PARENTS: Students must be registered by you in person for band/guard camp!

Check our website for your specific times.

There is a $75.00 fee for camp. Students will be fed one meal a day during the 9am - 9pm days and this fee covers instructional staff and facility fees during the camp.

At the end of Camp, there will be an performance and BBQ for parents, family and alumni. This is a really fun event and parents should not miss out. Come see what your student has accomplished in one exciting week of hard work.

Need some tips on how to do well at Band/Guard Camp?

1. Don’t forget anything. Remember what to bring for rehearsal. Obviously, you’ll need your instrument and your music in a flipbook and your drill dot book. Bring a pencil for note taking. It would be a good idea to bring a water bottle, a hat and sunscreen to prevent burning. Make a checklist so you don’t end up in a predicament.

2. Dress comfortably and appropriately. Since band camp takes place over the summer, you’ll want to wear shorts and a light-colored t-shirt or tank top, hat, sun glasses and tennis type shoes for marching. NO sandals or flip flops.

3. Be on time. Timely arrivals show you want to make a commitment to the program and will save from being otherwise reprimanded by your director/drum major. Remember: In band: to be early is on time, on time is late, and late is unthinkable!

4.Take the time to practice and exercise before Camp starts! Chances are if you haven’t played or done a long rehearsal for a while, camp can be exhausting. Get in shape on your instrument and physically, walk, run or just move this summer. you may also wish to stretch.

5. Learn rehearsal and performance etiquette. Ask your section leader or band director if you’re not sure about something. Good etiquette helps things flow smoothly and more professional.

6. Try your hardest. You will probably make friends faster and be respected more if you make a decent effort at marching and playing your instrument. “When in doubt, play out.” If you’re trying to hide that you can’t play part of the music or execute a certain move, nobody will be able to help you and when someone finally notices that you’ve been doing it wrong, you’ll have a harder time learning the further we get into camp and the season.

7. Be optimistic. Complaining or bellyaching is extremely annoying and not helpful.

8. "Hi! How’s it going?" Make friends. Get to know your classmates, your section, whoever is sitting or standing next to you in formation, and anybody else that seems interesting. You have band and music in common already. However, do not talk when you’re setting up drill formations, at attention, or listening to the director talk.

9. Learn the show. Learn the show. Now is the time to practice. Practice as you would like to perform… learn your drill formations, work, music, rhythms, etc.

10. Take care of yourself. You’ll perform better and feel better if you take care of your body. While marching band is technically considered an art, it is more rigorous than many sports. Stretch properly. Marching band can be demanding during the summer. You don’t want to pull a muscle or injure yourself. Wear sunscreen and a hat when you will be marching in the sun. That sunburn won’t feel good tomorrow, and it’ll spare you sock tans, glove tans, and drum harness tans (somewhat). Remember to reapply every 2 hours or so. Apply chap stick that protects against the sun. Sunburned lips are not fun to play an instrument with, especially for brass players. Also be sure to wear good tennis or cross-trainer type shoes that don’t come off. Drink plenty of water. This means water. Soda and juice will dehydrate you. Avoid drinking milk or eating dairy products. The heat will cause it to curdle in your stomach and make you nauseous. Get an insulated jug for water. Don’t forget to clean and dry it after each day’s practice, so it doesn’t gunk up inside. You might also want to invest in a water backpack, so you can drink water whenever you want to without disrupting rehearsal. Eat healthy foods! Don’t just eat a pop-tart for breakfast on your way out the door; marching a lot is a very physical activity, especially if it’s for the entire day. Also remember to eat lunch. Fried foods aren’t good for you anyway, but if you eat unhealthy fast food, you will regret it after marching. Wear movable clothing and comfortable, athletic shoes. Dress appropriately.

11. If you’re a freshman, make sure you get fitted for a uniform. Try your uniform on. Avoid disasters before an actual show at a competition. Minutes before your first show is not the time to discover that your pants are too short or too long, or learn that nobody ever issued you a Glenn Gary.

12. Gently, please! Care for your instrument. Insert the brass mouthpiece or woodwind part firmly enough that it doesn’t fly out when snapped up and down. Tape them during the show. Remove tape as soon as possible to avoid getting the mouthpiece sticky or ruining it. Avoid getting a woodwind wet, especially the pads – they will fall off. If you are forced to march in the rain close all holes/keys. Use your cleaning cloth to dry the instrument after each practice. Oil your valves or slide before practice. It’s much harder from mid-field. For percussion, take the opportunity to learn from your drum advisor how to tie cymbals properly and how to replace and tune a drumhead. Learn the proper way to set your instrument down: not on its keys or delicate valves. If you must set your instrument on the ground, set it with the others from your section in a formation. It’s a nice flourish and shows off sectional spirit, and it might help save them from a careless foot.

13. Tired? Get some rest. Band camp can be strenuous, and it’s easier if you’re well rested.

14. Be respectful and courteous towards the band directors and assistants. Often they are busy or stressed during band camp, so be understanding.

15. This goes hand in hand with working hard, but put in effort: You get out of band what you are willing to put into it! Practice your instrument and music, memorize your music as soon as you can. Memorizing music gets easier the more you do it, so don’t wait. You will need to demonstrate by playing tests that you have memorized your music. Section Leaders and Mentors can help you memorize music if you ask them. The more effort you put in at band camp, the easier it will be later during the school year and at competitions. You don’t want to spend all your time later in the season playing catch-up. (This is especially for brass players. Holding up the horn requires a lot of endurance!) The musical rewards can be great in band if you are willing to go the extra mile!

16. Be aware of your place on the student totem pole. If you’re an underclassman, don’t try to boss others around as if you’re the section leader. On the flip side, if you’re an upperclassman, don’t alienate and harass those younger than you. Everyone should keep in mind that while they may not like to take advice, instruction or orders from other students, band section leaders and drum major(s) are there to help you get better with your playing and marching. Student Leaders should be given the opportunity by you to earn your respect as they are the highest in student leadership. You should listen to your section leaders, they can help you get through the marching season.

17. Be considerate of chaperones (Band Moms and Dads). These parents are here on their own time, often using vacation time. Band Moms and Dads assist the band director. They are not there to pick up after you.

18. Smell good. No one likes a smelly bando! Deodorant helps, please apply some during camp since you will be working up a sweat. Deodorant should travel with you so that you can get to it when getting in and out of a sweaty uniform. Remember to take showers and use deordorant before you wear your uniform/costume during marching season!

19. Keep a pencil in your instrument case and on your stand to mark sheet music during practice. Guard people, sometimes a change will occur in your drill book- stick your pencil into your ponytail to hold it. You can also use duct tape to make a holder for your pencil to attach to your dot book, so you can always have one on the field.

20. Remember that everyone is at band camp to learn. If you’re a newcomer, don’t take it personally when an instructor gives advice. Remember, they’re trying to help you look better in performance. If you’re a returning member, help out newcomers and be patient with them. You had to learn once, too.

21. If your water bottle is transparent, sometimes keeping it in a bag or rapping it in foil will keep it cool on a hot day; this keeps the sun from heating it up. Freeze part of the water so it stays cold all day.

22. Don’t complain. Nobody wants to be around someone who whines too much.

23. Woodwind players may want to consider buying newer reeds for the marching season. Tone quality is as important as your marching, nobody wants to hear bad sound from a marching group. Make sure youbuy good quality reeds as well (Van Doren NOT Rico). Always have a good amount of reeds in your case and/or with you at all times. You do not want to be in the middle of practice and have something happen to your only reed (having 3 or 4 is enough to keep away from that problem and buy a reed guard to keep them safe)

24. If you are a new member, don’t critique upperclassmen. They will only tolerate it for so long, and this is one of the fastest ways to make enemies. It also won’t look very good in the future; when you’re running for leadership… people do remember these things.

25.Remember that band directors hear everything and at times, appear to be all-knowing too. If you make an offhand comment along the lines of: “Why do we have to learn this crap, it’s not like we’re gonna beat (rival band) anyway “, it will get back to him, and he will likely call you out on it. At the very least, he will file it away in his mind for later. The same goes for anything you text or write on a social networking site… if you think another member of the band won’t report you, you’re wrong. Keep your negativity to yourself.

26. If you have trouble distinguishing between left and right, especially quickly, start working on that as soon as possible. It may be tolerated for the first few days of band camp, but later on, if you’re the only one to turn left when the command was to turn right, it could be quite embarrassing. If you have to, write it on your hands or arms where you can see it while at attention.

27. The ground is not going anywhere. If you stare at the ground for the entirety of band camp, you will learn next to nothing and spend the rest of the season playing catch-up. Meet new friends in the program and be more out-going. Trust yourself and your neighbors.

28. Make sure to take your instrument home daily. Full band rehearsals are to pull together everyone’s individual parts and to balance all the parts equally. You have to know your part to be able to balance it with others. Don’t rely on full band rehearsals to learn your parts.

29. Woodwinds and brass should not play their instrument after eating or drinking sugary stuff (like gatorade or candy). It’s fine to have a snack during breaks, just make sure to wash it down with water.

30. Never handle or play somebody else’s instrument without permission. It is very rude, and you will be held accountable if the instrument breaks.

31. Many people can overheat during band camp if it’s hot outside. If you start to feel fatigued, dizzy, nausea, you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Tell a section leader, drum major, or staff member immediately. Get to some shade and get some water if you think this is happening to you.

32. Don’t talk when the band director, staff, drum majors, or section leaders are talking. Not only will this annoy the directors, but it will distract people around you from what they’re saying, which could be very important. If you need help finding your drill spot, quietly raise your hand and someone will gladly help you. Respect upperclassmen- chances are they’re more often right and you’re wrong.

33. If you are given a drill sheet with your formations on it or music, do not lose it.

34. Be disciplined. Marching Band is very military-esque. When the director is speaking, you do not. When you need to snap to attention, you snap. Take it seriously; many skills that you learn in this activity can be applied to everyday life!

35. Don’t be “that guy or girl”. There’s always that one person who forgets to wear their band shirt, or loses one of their marching shoes and shows up to rehearsals without something, because they started looking for it the night before, or walks into the room and goes “Ohhh… we were supposed to bring our instruments today?”. Don’t let “that guy” be you.

36. Make sure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing or it will come back to haunt you. Starting band camp as a new member and having a lazy reputation will leave you in a place with the director where you don’t want to be. If you are a freshman, don’t come off too cocky or you will be on the bottom of the totem pole until you graduate high school. No one forgets how people were their freshman year of band.