Directors’ note: Instead of the usual post-camp letter from me, I thought it would be interesting to see how a camp looks from a visiting member’s eyes. Adrienne Peck is a 2nd year guard member from Cleveland, Ohio. We don’t have the guard in until April, but she made the trek over with her boyfriend (veteran brass member Mat Tomsa). Aside from helping out where ever needed, she took some notes and agreed to file this report. Enjoy!


Mat and I began the drive from Ohio to Illinios evidently too early, considering that what should be a 7 hour drive took only 5 hours. Chicago traffic was merciful this time.

We actually got in to town so early we stopped by the corps office and talked with Rick Valenzuela and met new visual staff member Stuart Shulman, who had just got in from O’Hare airport. Rick’s a really nice guy and it’s fun to have him with us. Stuart seems nice too. We then headed off to Keith School.

We pull up to the infamously cold-showered Keith School, set back in a wooded neighborhood in central Rockford, and then it was off for a weekend of drum corps. This was my first camp experience without the guard. OK…here’s my only shout out – I promise – but I miss you all! Anyway, I got to see everything that happens behind the scenes and with the other sections of the corps during a camp weekend. It was fun.

Camp began the same as it does when the guard is in…we started out like usual: “division two sized” as Pat likes to call it, due to the usual traffic and airport delays. Camp always starts with a quick “Pat meeting”. I must say, this was by far the shortest one I have ever experienced. Holding out on us guard folks, hey Pat?

Everyone broke off into their respective sections and it was off to work. Battery went off to the elementary school building and worked on technique and music. It was pretty cold outside so I decided to stay with the hornline Friday night and promised to visit the percussion section tomorrow when it was a little less frigid out.

The brass section stretched and warmed up with a big focus on technique and breathing. I never knew that breathing could be so complicated. I tried to breathe along with them but ended up getting light-headed, so I decided to leave that up to them. They played through all of the “Phantom History Bits”. That made me realize how special this year is going to be and how deep the Phamily runs. They spent the last part of the block working on some show music (by this point, we were up to “division one size”).

The pit had finally unloaded everything and began learning all of our ballad (that’s a lot of music to learn in one night!). It was also the first time I had ever gotten to see Darian conduct the hornline – all I have to say is, the 2006 Phantom Regiment has arrived! Everything is really starting to mold together- I’m so excited!

Once the block was over, everyone went off to go grab snack (ribs, chicken patty sandwiches, and amazing peanut butter cookies), rehearse a little bit more, or go shower (which is an amazing feat to accomplish at Keith School- I don’t know which would be colder, standing outside for a few hours with nothing on or standing under one of the shower heads at Keith. I’m gonna guess the showers.)

Everyone went upstairs and got re-acquainted and started watching every drum corps show known to mankind on the various portable DVD players and
laptops. But once Darian called “lights out” everyone went straight to bed.

Wake-up call came a little too early Saturday morning. We arose up to a wonderful breakfast of doughnuts, cereal, fresh fruit and my all-time
favorite, Regiment’s famous OATMEAL! Then the upper brass wasted no time going to visual block, while low brass, battery, and the pit jumped right into sectionals.

I didn’t spend too much time with the musical ensembles during the morning block because I was helping out our amazing support staff. That really made me appreciate how complicated our “chickens” really are (“chickens” are what we call the plumes on our helmets). I was told that every other year or so we make a new set…by hand! I made three all by myself – and trust me- the feathers were flying! Spending just a few hours with them made me realize how demanding camp is for everyone- not just the marching members.

Lunch came fast and I think every single person in the entire corps showed up at Beef a’Roo. If I could, I would drive to Rockford every day to get some ‘Roo!

After lunch, lower brass went into visual block while upper brass went into sectionals along with the battery and pit again. The battery and pit were hard at work learning even more show music and perfecting what they already had.

After the block, it was a mad rush to Fazolis for dinner break. Then the battery went into visual block, which I stayed and watched. I never knew how intricate marching was. By this point I was learning a lot about the complexity of being in the horn and drum line! The brass spent a lot of time working out our opener while the percussion worked with Dwight and Jay on visual in the high school gym. It’s gotta be really tough to lug around those heavy drums (and horns!!!) and worry about marching technique at the same time! I give y’all (whoops-“you all” since I am from the north) a LOT of credit for that!

By late evening the full brass ensemble congregated together and worked on a few “instrumental experiements” to part of our show. Once again, the ’06 Phantom Regiment has arrived! It was nice to hear that deep, dark, passionate Phantom Regiment sound again. Then the percussion joined in and worked on the closer. It was so cool to watch them work.

By the time this block ran out, even I was ready for bed! Pat had another meeting…and this one was short too! We got birthday cake (cassada!!!) for snack. There was no DVD watching tonight- in fact, I think lights out came early for almost everyone – at least for me it did!

Sunday morning…breakfast was awesome again because it was OATMEAL, and Robert made his famous scrambled eggs too! The day was off to a good start.

Battery jumped right into their own ensemble in the gym and the hornline did the same thing next door in the carpeted cafeteria/stage area. I spent a good deal of the first part of this block hunting down helmets and uniforms in the equipment truck, although I did sneak away and hop in the shower once everyone was working. I had a really WARM shower- which is a rare occasion at Keith School to say the least.

The first part of Sunday flew by and soon it was time for my favorite part of camp – music ensemble! My sponsor – alumni and Board member Dana Pelan – stopped in along with other alumni and support staff. It was really nice to introduce, catch up with and see all the supporters that we have!

We ended camp with a full run-through of the show – that’s right! A FULL run!!! It was pretty impressive and, as usual, the hornline blew everyone in the stands away. The talent in this year’s corps is completely unbelievable. The drum line…I don’t know much about drums, but they looked great.

Pat wrapped things up and Darian gave out clean-up chores. There was a big snow storm on the east coast and it looked like a few members from the New York City area and Boston were going to be stranded. Pat and Rick made sure everyone had a corps family to stay with if they couldn’t get on their flights. That’s what’s so great about having a tight “phamily” here. Everyone else got packed up to drive home or catch their flights.

Okay, so I lied about the shout outs…I wanted to shout out to all of the members and staff, AND the support staff that work behind the scenes to make Phantom Regiment what it has been and what it is going to be. This year is truly going to be something incredible!

Thanks to everyone who is giving Regiment their all! You guys are amazing! Can’t wait to hear how much progress we have made by March camp and then April when (yay!) the guard finally enters the picture for the first time since December!

I’m stealing this quote from a past camp report -but I think it still stands true…


Adrienne Peck (colorguard ’05-present)