From director Patrick Seidling:

A very productive weekend has just concluded and I thought I’d share with our phriends and phamily a little of what we did over these freakishly cold three days.

Friday began with our southern members exiting planes and cars and walking into below zero temperatures. 10 below without windchill, to be exact. Unloading the truck was “re-freshing” to say the least! As a life-long northerner, it continues to be great entertainment to see the faces of our Texans and Flordians on these cold weekends!

This camp saw us back at Keith School…a cozy private school in a beautiful wooded neighborhood. It’s a little tight for us these days, but the carpeted cafeteria is perfect for the pit and battery and the gym fits the brass line nicely. The upper building and it’s own gym and classrooms make for a perfect area for the battery to wood-shed away. Also, we’re pretty close to a BeefaRoo, so a trip or two to the corps “official” fast-food place are always in order on Keith weekends.

Camp began with some-what light attendance at first…late planes and traffic jams…but by 9 pm we had just over 70 brass in the arc and all but 4 drummers on hand. By Saturday morning a full roster of 86 brass and a full drum line were in. In fact, only 4 brass and 1 battery member had to miss the camp. Quite frankly, this commitment to attendance and “buy in” of the membership is a key reason we have seen such success and growth these past few years. There is a true team spirit happening here, and moreso this winter then in recent memory, I feel a real bond among the corps members. It’s truly impressive to see how determined and dedicated this group is.

Friday evening was sectionals to 11 pm followed by snack and social time and even some impromptu small section “late night” practicing.

Saturday morning came and it was above zero! Along with two blocks of sectional time, we also began fitting uniforms. It’s always fun to roll out the uniform racks and take a look at those gorgeous suits. It’s also fun see who outgrew theirs and who didn’t! With 84 vets in the corps this year (though 22 of those vets are in the guard and weren’t here this weekend), fitting went pretty quickly. It’s also fun to see the new members try on a white jacket for the first time. Makes us “old timers” realize why we do this.

Uniform fitting is also cool because the wardrobe crew is all in…a fun, dedicated and very competant crew. Thanks as always to Barb, Mary, Joann, Peg, Ms. Musso, Mrs. Sailer, Lee, Jan, and a few new helpers too.

Another nice surprise was the arrival of our NEW EQUIPMENT TRAILER! Thanks to a very generous donation from the Rockford Kiwanis Club, we have purchased a much newer trailer to replace our 1975 equipment truck – that has been in service since 1990! Board members and former directors Bill Riebock and Johnny Baumgartner are heading up the design and building of the new rig. Bill brought it over from the dealer in Chicago for us to look at and begin measuring for shelving. Right now it’s empty and all-white, by June 15 it’ll be shiny and fully tricked out!

Saturday evening had the brass in visual sessions with Bob Smith and team. They were split among both gyms while the battery and pit worked on an ensemble session. We make sure we do at least one intense visual session at these early music camps, but we really dig into visual in March and April, as we rent a full field house those weekends. Of course, in May we put it all together outdoors. As an old drummer, watching that powerful Regiment drum line in their ensemble session was pretty impressive.

After rehearsal we had a full corps meeting and discussed far ranging topics including future camp details and tour information. Snack followed and then lights out. I can tell when we get a lot done at these camps – on Saturday nights most everyone is asleep before Dave and Kara even hit the lights!

Speaking of volunteers and staff: I have been with Regiment only since 2001, but I am still amazed and humbled by this great support staff. This weekend alone we had not only our wonderful wardrobe crew on hand, but a great food crew (the Garbacik’s and Bowers, Becky and Barb too!) made sure we had great snacks and breakfasts, and they kept the hot chocolate and coffee going all weekend! The always friendly souvie crew of Barb S, Mouse, Peg and Jackie were on hand, and Phil even showed up for a visit. Quite a few other parents and boosters came in to chat and offer a hand. Drivers Bill, Denny and Bernie made sure the bus-shuttle runs and meal trips got done and that the trucks were on location and on time. Mindy, Greg and Teresa kept the member records in order and helped with set-up. The back-bone of the corps has always been our support staff: regardless of how they came to us…parents, former parents, alumni, boosters or fans…it’s all one big “phamily”!

We miss the guard at these camps…they don’t come back until April. However, we did have our visual design team of Tony Hall and Johnny Sanchez in all weekend. Though we haven’t started learning drill yet, the weekend allows them to meet with the music staff and Dan Farrell and to really see and hear the music program being developed as they motivate and inspire the visual package for the summer show.

Sunday was a heatwave. Broke 25 by the time we ended at 1 pm. The Texans didn’t want to leave! But seriously…Sundays are always an exciting time at camps because we dive into a full music ensemble session, and this weekend was no exception. For a full 2 hours we worked through all three segments of the show “Apasionata 874”. The entire brass book is done, and percussion has all but a few feature sections. We read through…and then worked on…the entire show as a full ensemble. We are fully a month ahead of last winter on the design and production side of our musical book. And the music? Well…if you liked last year, you’ll love this year. This music has an emotional appeal even deeper than last season’s production. There is a section in the last piece that will take your breath away, I am certain.

At 1 pm we grouped up, made sure everyone had rides, cleaned the school, loaded cars and buses and said our good-byes. By 2:30 I was dropping “Spoony” the bottom bass drummer off to meet his Dad and then I was off to a Superbowl party with some of the local PR pholks (hosted by Dave St. Angel – a former director and legend around here!). I was pulling for Carolina.

This corps is a pretty impressive place, I must say with all humbleness. The dedication and teamwork of the members is always a joy to watch, they certainly keep me young! There seems to be a special “something” about this year’s membership. Older? Wiser? More focused? I can’t define it yet, but I can see their determination. Moreso, I can sense their true joy of performing, even at this early stage of the game.

The teaching and design staff are an awesome group and seeing them “click” as a team – now that we’ve had a season or two together – is pretty cool. The welcome and camraderie of all the adults – staff, support, Board, parents, friends – continues to be an inspiration.

It is only January, and a lot of challenges are ahead of us, but…in all sincerity…I can’t wait to the next camp. And thank heavens summer is but only a few months (and 60 degrees) away!   Pat