April camp is always a sort of a homecoming event, not only because we see the guard for the first time since December, but because “spring fever” has kicked in and encourages a lot of fans and alumni to stop by. It’s less than 3-weeks until sections start moving in, but the theme of this winter has all along been “we can’t wait for tour”! I think that fact – and the sunny weather – made the weekend really feel as if the “Summer of Faust” truly is near!

Once again we were at Beloit Memorial High School, just north of Rockford on the Wisconsin side of things. The field house insures that we can learn drill, even if it’s cold or rainy. Didn’t really need it this weekend though. We set up shop on the green grass and learned some drill!

We are fielding 70 brass this year and we still carry alternates, 71 of those folks were there (a few had concerts back at school). The battery was in, though the front line wasn’t (they’ve held camps in Texas on their own and will be in in late May). And of course, there is the return of the guard! I don’t know who I missed more…the young people in the guard (both vets and new ones I met in December) or my friends on the guard staff…but either way, April camp is always a bit more exciting just because the guard is back. This year was no exception.

As for all the other folks at camp? Wow…where do I start? The wardrobe team (with a special visit from the folks at Stanbury), food crew friends, souvie team, parents, drivers, fans, Board members (Joe Hickey made it in!)…even a large handful of recent age-outs stopped by to visit or hang for a good while. Camps are as much reunions for the boosters and fans as they are work weekends for the members and staffs! Longtime wardrobe head Barb Glasscoe always hosts a party at her home on this weekend, and this year was no exception. Thanks Barb, always a nice touch.

It was reasonably warm, the leaves were budding and the sun was out, so we just went for it, lined a field, set up scaffolding and marched outside! Now, you must accept that this is a big deal for northern Illinois drum corps! I have been here for 6 years now, and this is only the 2nd time weather permitted an outdoor day at April camp! The visual team was quite happy, as Jamey Thompson’s drill is all about field coverage, and as nice as that field house is, it just isn’t quite deep enough. We marched and played this year far more than we have since I’ve been here. Very cool indeed.

Several new shirt designs were on hand…new souvies are always fun (keep your eye on the
on-line store, they should be up soon).

Saturday night we took some time to preview the summer tour and talk about the things that make this experience exceptional and all that it can be. Teamwork, selflessness, joy of performing and understanding our roles as entertainers is the center of doing touring drum corps. It felt good to talk about the impending summer with a little sunburn on the skin!

Sunday was “march and play” time. Henry Clay High School from Lexington, KY was in the area for an event in Chicago and asked if they could stop by and catch some of Sunday’s rehearsal. How cool was that? And…being that Clay HS school is the alma mater of our current conductor Darian Sanders made it that much more special. Wow…not only we were outside for April camp, we’re already attracting crowds too!

We fit more uniforms and the guard got a sneak-peak at this year’s costumes. Adam Sage and Tommy Keenum are outdoing themselves. Wait until you see…

This year’s corps is a lot of fun to be with. With 73 veterans, an average age just over 20 years old and new members with serious experience and backgrounds, it has been one of most mature, easy-going yet determined groups I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I am looking forward to touring with this years Regiment; there is no doubt about it.

Thanks to all who lent a hand at this camp, and to the teaching/design staff team too. Thanks also to the members for yet another move forward on a season that promises to be one for the books, and lastly, thanks to the fans for stopping by and cheering us on!

It’s all just around the corner…