7 Secrets You Need to Know About Freshman Band Camp

As an inexperienced freshman, you undoubtedly have already chained yourself to your apprehension about the upcoming freshman band camp. Chuck those chains out the window! Because I have marched in your shaking shoes before. These 7 secrets will direct you to a fresh frame of mind.

1.) PLEASE know your instrument beforehand.
As simple (or stupid) as that sounds, do it. You would not believe the amount of people who go into freshman band camp without even looking at their instrument for about 6 months before band camp. It’s called marching BAND, not marching people-who-hold-an-instrument. Yes, it’s funny now, but you won’t be laughing when you’re trying to figure out what to play, where to go, and when to change direction all at the same time. If the band program gives you music to memorize, commit it to memory before you go to band camp. This way, you can focus on deciphering your marching drill chart (a.k.a. Your messed-up connect the dots puzzle) instead of relearning your instrument.

2. You will eat ridiculous amounts of food.
If people think you don’t eat a lot, there isn’t a better place to prove them wrong than freshman band camp. In a typical band camp, you will be working outside, in unearthly hot temps, for most of your 12-hour day, EVERY day. You will be hungry all the time, even after you have just eaten. This is because you’re basically burning off calories faster than you can put them in your body. Consequence: you ingest truckloads of water, sports drinks, and food.

3. Never be the last person to show up.
As general rule, arrive early to everything you go to, because that’s simply a smart life choice. But during freshman band camp, never be the last one. To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be left-forever alone. I don’t care if you’re just going to get a “gush and go” (a drink of water), you better not be the last one back on the field. What will happen if you’re last? I am not entirely sure — probably because everyone is too terrified to find out. Most likely, the ground will open directly beneath you and swallow you in a burning, black hole.

4. “Freshman initiation” is quite boring.
Basically, every band program hosts a “freshman initiation.” As awful as that sounds, it really isn’t awful at all. Think more “summer camp” with team building. Then, you will probably be taught the history and traditions of the band. Granted, these go back to the beginning of time in every program. Therefore, prepare yourself to sit through an extended history lesson, and participate in some cheesy team building games.

5. Do your best all the time.
If your band uses an “alternate” or “shadow” system, that means they have a specific number of marching spots for their shows. No more and no less. Since they have a limited number of marching spots, your superiors will be looking to put only the very best band members on the field at any given time. Therefore, you need to demonstrate a hardworking attitude all the time, because if you are the best, you can replace someone who is doing less than their best. Your superiors will be evaluating your performance at any given time, so always march and play to the best of your ability.

6. You get to know your campus before everyone else.
It is a little-known fact that band students have the advantage over everyone else on campus. Why? By the time school starts, you know your way around campus AND you have already met a bunch of friends. Upper classmen will most likely even teach you the best ways to get around and fill you in on the “do’s and don’ts” of campus. Band upper classmen are truly your best resource when you get into a freshman pickle, because they have faced your problems just a few years before. Use this resource to your advantage.

7. No worries, there is ALWAYS someone who is worse than you.
Whether you’re thinking of marching or music, somebody will always be worse at it than you are. Every freshman will concern themselves with trying to survive just as much as you. Realize that it is ok if you are not the best marcher on the field. No one really expects you to be the best marcher or player as a freshman anyway. If you’re concerned about what your leaders will think of your skill, just know that their main job is to keep you from falling on your face throughout the course of freshman camp. Lastly, take it one step at a time, and you will be just fine.

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