April showers…well, more like “grey and drizzly”. But hey, no problem; the farmers were happy and we once again set a new standard for this time of the season.

We were back at Beloit Memorial, a beautiful, large campus on the Rock River, and thus we were able to take advantage of a large field house and a full-size gym in order to meet all our goals, regardless of on-and-off rain.

We haven’t seen the guard since January and it was very exciting to see so many old friends and meet a great bunch of new ones. We had 106 girls audition back in November and asked back just under 50. At this camp, that group and a few new faces were back after two months off for winter guard season. We’ve now set the membership at 40 very talented and lovely ladies, all who showed great camraderie and a true work ethic this weekend. Joe Heininger and team was “in the house” and put the technique program in motion, and as well began teaching various phrases and show concepts, while also attending a lot of design meetings to get the guard costume and flag designs locked down. By the way, check out the latest StylePlus cataloque… Joe’s the principal designer and we’re exclusivly endorsed (guard costumes, flags, weapons and footwear). Check out the neat pictures of Joe, the 2003 guard and even the beautiful model Lindsay Brooks (PR 03, 04)! StylePlusBand.com.

We welcomed in a great teacher to our guard program and Regiment phamily this weekend…none other than the legendary Wanda Conway! The ladies really took to her straight ahead – and intense – technique program and were continually entertained by her Boston accent (JD doesn’t sound like that!).

Brass and battery focused most of the camp on “Oblivian”. This is a peice I will never tire of hearing. It speaks right to your heart. If we do nothing but set up and run the “hit” all summer, I will have a complete season my friends! We finished the opener drill and all of Oblivian. Last year at this time we had about 20 sets of opener done. This year? Two full tunes taught, marched and played. Very cool.

It was especially exciting to already see little touches being added and toyed with…unique ways to move, small flashes of effect and nuance. In April, no less! Great job by the vis team in house: Joe Lemire, Julie Slick, Erich Sabach, Scott Tanner and Jenny Johnson, along with Tony and Johnny. We even had cameo apearances by staffers Gene Monterastelli and Chris Hartowicz!

The front ensemble wasn’t in, so again it was just battery, and the full line minus one spent the weekend back and forth between visual and sections. Thanks guys, you did great being an “on call” drum line! We are carrying 75 brass players right now, and though this camp saw more school conflicts than any this season (jury and final concert season) we still had a full compliment throughout the camp. Keven Rabon and JD Shaw were able to delve into not only notes and technique, but emotion and interpretation. That’s also very cool.

Dan Farrell, Tony Hall, Johnny Sanchez, Paul Rennick, JD Shaw and Joe Heininger make up our design team, along with motivation from Dr. Dan Richardson. The whole crew was in and spent the weekend meeting, talking, teaching, thinking, meeting some more, talking more, thinking even more yet…well, you get the picture. Piazolla’s music is truly inspiring and it’s really got the creative muse going.

Once again the school was buzzing with so many good folks in town to get the summer season going full steam. JB, Bill Reibock, Ron Wilke and Bob Joosten spent time building the new equipment trailer, and we were very excited to have the help of Mark Webb – husband of a PR guard C.O. and also father of a PR guard C.O.! Mark can build. It was impressive to see him work, let me tell you. By the way, I think Mark, JB and Bill have built or re-built about a dozen trailers over the years, and this one is their best work. Thanks guys, finish this one and you get a 5-year break. Right.

We had a great crew once again making sure snacks and breakfasts were provided. Thanks to the Bowers, Garbaciks, Becky Nelson and the Janowksi’s. Sean Lapekas and Mike Oldemeyer worked on the souvie truck and added some nice comforts to the crew’s summer ride. Barb Janowski and Bob Joosten spent time locking in all the great tour crews (drivers, wardrobe, food, nursing). In fact, with Bob, Ron Wilke, Grant Johnston and Dave Flick here, we pretty much could’ve launched tour today! All we needed was Kornman, Dieter and the sandwiches, right guys?

Dr. Tom Kupferer was in (always a pleasure!) to finish the member physicals and get all the first aid kits cleaned and stocked. Mouse (Cathy Dezarn), Peg Ripley, Barb Schantzen, Dana Pelan and Doug Wells were in to finalize souvenir item planning. We also had the pleasure of having a whole bunch of other visitors in who helped in anyway needed and came by to say HI. There were so many in that if I list them I’ll be sure to overlook someone. Needless to say, this is one of the best part of camps: Seeing old friends and realizing how many people love this corps and do whatever they can to keep the doors open.

Alumni and booster Chuck McCurdy made an April camp (first one since ’81 Chuck?) and got to meet a lot of folks and even made sure a tenor drummer got to his flight on time. Thanks, Chuck, but I bet the ‘Vette woulda made the challenge easier!

Barb Glasscoe and crew – so many, I’ll surely miss someone, but here goes: Lee Julian, Becky DeClerqc, Cheryl McCormick, Sarah Sailer, even Julie our flag pattern genius made a morning stop! Mary Keller came in to kick us off Friday eve, and I know a forgot other names, there were so many! We continued on the uniform fitting side, and a great crew of helmet and plume folks made sure we’ll have bright, white feathers on those helmets again this year. Thanks to Matt Leide, Lee and Nadine, Ms. Kusmierczak, Mr. Meier and even young Mr. Sailer! Done in record time I think. Now, what do I do with this set of berets?

Saturday evening all staff, boosters and phriends were invited over to Barb Glasscoe’s beautifully decorated home for a party. Thanks Barb, it was fun. We all want one of those pillows, by the way. Though JD may need two. Prior to that I witnessed a euphonium holding contest. You read that right. Rumor is Matt Naylor won, right?

So that was this weekend. Summer will be here soon, and I think we are ready. I am certain we all are excited to get these great young adults on the road and under the lights again. Year number 48 for the Regiment, I believe.

The next step is May camp. This one will be at at Winnebago High School on May 14-16. We’re going to assume Mother Nature cooperates and we can be in the stadium moving it all one notch closer to our best season yet. Thanks to all, and a big, virtual smile to the members of the 2004 Phantom Regiment. Pat