15,000 miles and over 2 months have passed since I last filed a report. Wow. What a summer it’s been! Everything I said about this year’s membership – and staff team – back in May has proven true all these miles later. It has been an honor and, quite frankly, a humbling experience, to be with such a group. I like to think the fans in the stands can actually feel the results of “the corps’ vibe” shine through in each show we do.

Lot’s to share…but let me start with this week’s news first. Yes, we’ve closed the rehearsal site this week. We’ve done so quite often over the many years, and for a variety of reasons we’ve chosen to do so this year.

We have spent a full year not merely teaching 10 minutes of a competitive drum corps show, but also teaching these amazing young people about life, and growing up, and taking charge of their own destiny – be it dusting ourselves off after a bad day and trying again, or realizing our many blessings, or being respectful to those who help us get through life.

We also strive to teach a healthy work ethic and that when it’s time to end a chapter of our life, we owe it to ourselves to focus on the job at hand and make the best of the time we are given.

This years “team” has really gelled, especially these past few weeks. Taking the time to focus not only on our work at hand, but the phamily bond we have is something we like to think is a life lesson that will stay with these kids forever. We have but 5 days left together and we hope to make the most of it – on and off the field.

I hope our parents, fans and alumni come out in force Wednesday evening, and then spend the rest of the week enjoying all that southern Wisconsin has to offer. Then, Thursday night, go on and get a seat at Camp Randall and enjoy what your Phantom Regiment has to offer. Thanks for understanding.

So, how was the tour, you ask? There is no way I can even come close to sharing what happened. Josh’s Journal does a nice job. I could elaborate, but no justice would be served. A few memories do jump out, however: The amazing feeling we got from the fans at Special Olympics, that first long bus ride, and all that followed (600 miles to Oklahoma from San Antonio!). Rained out beach time in Virginia, laundry in Rockford, Show of Shows and all the love from the phamily that day, walking onto the field in Atlanta and hearing the crowd cheer BEFORE we even got on the turf, hot days just about everywhere, the smiles from the food crew each morning, everyone looking good on banquet night. On and on. It’s been a great year so far. No doubt.

I’ve actually taken some time off the road this summer. Shook a few folks at first, but Brandon Stansbury and Brandt Crocker (tour managers) ran a tight ship, and our man Rick Valenzuela can still run a great tour too. Thanks guys, your efforts prove that we are an organzation with great depth.

Dan Farrell and his staff team are clicking like never before. It is an awesome experience to witness these folks working together as they put their heart and passion into each and every decision made.

The support staff team is not only overflowing with good people, it is just plain and simply GOOD PEOPLE. The drivers, cooks, wardrobe crew, doctors and nurses, souvie team and management folks…all pros in the truest sense of the word.

It’s been a good tour. Only 1 bus swap (last year we traded out buses 8 times!), never arrived to a housing site later than 1 hour – and that was a rare occasion – and always out of the lot each night right on time. Yes, we like running on time here.

But most of all, friendships have been made that will last a lifetime and we’ve lived experiences that will forever shape who we are. We used every emotion in our body, and a few times at that! Certainly there will be at least one marriage born out of this summer’s corps and I can see in the ranks of this 2006 membership our future. Perhaps our next great brass arranger, or our next corps director, or our next super booster is on the field right now as you read this. And that’s why I know we’ll be here another 50 years.

Thanks for everything this summer. Stop by Wednesday evening if you can. Otherwise, cheer loud and send some good karma our way later this week. These young people who make up the Phantom Regiment apreciate it, I assure you of that.

SUTA – Pat