Camp 2013

Camp 2013: Taps & Night Brass

The following is a re-post from August 2013

Who wouldn't want to end each night with goose bumps?

I've absolutely loved listening to the Taps duet each night.  I hope the locals appreciate the sound too.  Such a nice moment when you stop squirming around in a sandy sleeping bag and just listen to the trumpets calling goodbye to another day.

On Friday nights, they replace the traditional trumpet duet with a full brass assortment and a beautiful arrangement of Amazing Grace.  Stunning.  Absolutely stunning.  I watched from my open window and could see their bells catch the moonlight.  Such a perfect moment; I'll freeze it and carry it with me forever.

I longed so much for an encore that I went out onto my cabin porch to listen to the repeat performance down in the boy's camp.  It sounded even better as it wafted slowly up the hill.

So much talent in those gangly and gawky teenagers.  Under cover of darkness, you don't see the wrapped knees, the band-aids, the dirty feet, or the bags under their eyes.  You just hear their music, their talent, their hearts.

Your kids are awesome.  Thank you for loaning them to me this week. 

Camp 2013: The Wall

The following is a re-post from August 23, 2013

These are good kids and 99.2% of them would shave their heads bald to do another week of band camp.

But they all hit a wall at some point.

They try and they try and they work their little musical buns off.  But they're away from home, away from life.  Yes, they're with their friends but it might as well be on Mars.  At a certain point, they all break down.  Even the strongest, they all feel it, to varying degrees.

Yesterday we saw a lot of kids slam into the wall.  Hard.  Today, we've got a few more.

But you know what?  Kids bounce.  20 minutes later, that same kid who was struggling just to keep a'float of all their emotions and homesickiness is suddenly laughing and back out on the field.  By choice.  And we adults kinda have to stop some of these kids from practicing during their free time.  Because they love what they're doing.  And they're seeing their own progress and noting with pride all the new skills they didn't bring to Torch Lake.

So maybe you've had a few sad-eyed-puppy-dog phone calls or emails or texts.  Help them through the rough minutes.  But it's just a minute, it isn't insurmountable, and we have yet to require an emergency pick-up for a kid dying of Playstation withdrawl. 

These kids are strong.  You've raised them to be that way.  Now watch that strength with pride.

Camp 2013: Friday Food

The following is a re-post from August 23, 2013

Friday Breakfast

  • Cinnamon French toast
  • Sausage patty
  • Cold cereal (no oatmeal this morning)
  • Yogurt & fixin's
  • Beverages
  • Asst whole fruit

Menu: Friday Lunch

Here's the deal: we have no idea what we had for lunch.  Half of us voted ham, half of us voted turkey, so I'm none the wiser for asking.

  • Ham (or turkey) (or ham) (or was it turkey?)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Rolls
  • Salad Bar
  • Asst whole fruit
  • Water, red koolade, lemonade

2013: Crack o' Dawn Club

The following is a re-post from August 23, 2013

I get up every morning at 5:30 to beat the beauty-queens to a hot shower.  Then I sit and watch the world wake up.

Here's my daily animal count:

Monday- 20 hummingbirds buzz the field in the dark.  Yogaing, running laps, tossing rifles.

Tuesday- 3 rabbits in the dawn, jog-walk the track chanting "you can do it".

Wednesday- 1 determined fox gently stretching in the morning sun.

Thursday- 12 grumpy tortoises trudge to the showers, 20 minutes before breakfast.  Most have only one eye open and do not speak english.

At the rate they're devolving, I expect only a few amoebas to ooze past my deck tomorrow.  By Saturday, I'll have the entire place to myself.

Camp 2013: Reunited

The following is a re-post from August 23, 2013

We finally pried the front ensemble away from the boathouse yesterday afternoon.  It wasn't easy to get them to abandon their beachfront property in favor of the hard trodden dusty practice field.  Let's just say that promises were made.

Note to Cristie: Avery has the Swiss bank accounts all set up.  You can wire funds immediately.

Now the entire band is together on the field for the first time.  The sound, while still primitive, is amazing.

I'm a former brass player, so I naturally appreciate a good metallic chord that you can hear with your teeth.  Makes my heart sing and my gooses bump.  And most of your kids all play in the winds, so you're right there with me in appreciating that sound.  But for those who don't understand the point of the non-marching kids who stand around beating stuff, let me fill you in on the purpose of the front ensemble.

They're the mood setters, the undertones, they make all the sounds your marching kids can't make.  And while all the field hoofers are out learning to point their toes in sync and make it to their next dot without tripping over a trombone, the front ensemble spends their time fine tuning perfection.  They've got incredibly talented pianists, funky bass guitars, a master of tympani, techy kids who trigger samples, and a whole bunch of mallet keyboards who play chords and complex rolls which blur the eye.  And they're choreographed.  Watch those marimba players- their chops all match, not just timing but stick heights.  There's a lot of work that goes into all that standing around.

And they juggle flaming chainsaws too.

The winds and battery sound great but it takes the front ensemble to get that Dolby surround sound and the chills down your spine.  They complete the group.

So this season, after you've watched your student on the field a few times, spend one performance watching the kids along the front sideline.  That's a whole 'nother show and well worth the time. 

Camp 2013: Thursday Menus

The following is a re-post from August 23, 2013

Thursday Breakfast

  • Breakfast burritos with salsa
  • Sausage links
  • Hot and cold cereals
  • Yogurt & fixins bar
  • Mixed breads bar
  • Asst whole fruits
  • OJ, milk, cocoa, coffee & tea

Thursday Lunch

  • Salisbury steak
  • Mashed potatoes & gravy
  • Fresh rolls
  • Cooked carrots
  • Salad bar
  • Fruit bar
  • Beverages
  • Push-up ice cream treats

Menu: Thursday Dinner

  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Curley Fries
  • Fruit cocktail
  • Salad & fruit bar
  • Beverages
  • Chocolate chip cookies

(Please note the lack of chicken nuggets and curly fries on my plate.  This is what happens when you spend time talking to Mr. Steele at the salad bar.  I had to borrow the fries to take this picture.)

Camp 2013: Wednesday Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The following is a re-post from August 22, 2013:

Wednesday Breakfast

  • Omlettes (cheese and something?)
  • Bacon
  • Yogurt
  • Cold & hot cereal
  • Fresh berries
  • OJ, milk, asst beverages

Wednesday Lunch

  • Pot roast (amazingly unbad)
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Mixed veggies
  • Salad bar
  • Asst fruit

Wednesday Dinner

  • Spaghetti
  • Fresh zucchini with bruschetta topping
  • Garllic bread
  • Salad bar
  • Asst whole fruit
  • Apple crisp

Camp 2013: Rough Day at the Office

The following is a re-post from August 21, 2013

Ever had one of those days when you've got 4 projects overdue, so you stay a little late at the office?

And your boss sees you working late and asks you to run 400 copies of a 20 page report?  And while it's not something you normally do, you're willing to take one for the team?

So the park ranger leads you to a dark remote part of the forest, to a little shack inhabited by wild vermin and sets you to making copies?

And two hours later, the thought occurs to you, that NOBODY knows where you are and if a carnivorous moose attacks, it could be months before the search team finds your bones?

So when the job's complete, you drag a six ton box of paper across the forest floor, watching the bear watch you?

And the box breaks?  And the bear laughs?

Yeah, I thought so.  Probably happened to you twice last week.

Camp 2013: The Trials of Cabin No. 9

The following is a re-post from August 21, 2013

Cabin no. 9 is a quaint girl's cabin set into the side of a hill.  Among it's many feature are large, low-set, screen-less windows.

The girls who live in cabin no. 9 all fear starvation, so they packed their luggage full of healthful items like Peanut M&Ms and Gummi Bears.

Which the gray squirrel immediately found.

So the cabin chaperone asked the girls to place all their necessary rations into a sealed tub.  But the girls feared starvation so they tucked the Oreos and Rice Krispie Treats under their pillows.

Which the gray squirrel immediately found.

So the cabin chaperone demanded at gunpoint that the girls place all their necessary rations into a sealed tub within a sealed tub.  But the girls feared starvation so they tucked their Chips Ahoys and Pixie Sticks into the far ends of their sleeping bags.

Which the gray squirrel immediately found.

And that's why your daughters may have tales of Rainny Kitkowski plowing madly through their luggage in search of squirrel crack while Chelle Martin and Randy Vieira beat the squirrel senseless with a tennis racket.

Camp 2013: Engine Trouble

The following is a re-post from August 20, 2013.

There's a mysterious problem the locals are having today.

There's some sort of miniature Bermuda Triangle out on the lake, about 100 ft. past our camp swimming buoys.  Every boat seems to have engine trouble at just about the same spot.  Sometimes 2 boats at a time.

They cut the engines, look back, fiddle with a few engine knobs.  And then, maybe because the engine trouble is so inexplicable, they return to their seat and drift a bit.  Waiting out the trouble.  A few close their eyes and relax.

I'm betting it has absolutely nothing to do with the front ensemble playing right there along the beach.

Nope, engine trouble.

The best engine trouble ever.

Camp 2013: Campfire Confessions

The following is a re-post from August 20, 2013

Last night was campfire night.  A small amphitheater with a campfire at the bottom. The seniors all got a chance to stand up and tell their band stories.  Their first day of band practice, try outs, first failure on the field, the friends they found, the trips they took, funniest hotel bathroom stories...

It was bittersweet.  A lot of funny moments, inside jokes, and a lot of love.  Yet some stories were absolutely heartbreaking. 

Marching band is a safe haven for misfits.  And if you remember your teen years accurately, you'll recall that misfit feeling.  All teenagers are misfits.  Adolescence is a hard place to be.

And marching band makes that place a little less harder. 

I'm so glad my children are in band.  Not just any band.  This band.  This amazing group of kids, all united in a common goal of excellence.

Let me leave you with the best quote of the evening:

The band is big.  It's this big gigantic organization but here's the secret: it can't work without me.  I am written into the drill.  I am this dot on the drill sheet and if I'm not there, there's a hole.  A hole in the band.  They need me.  I love that.

Can't say it any better than that.

Camp 2013: Monday Dinner Menu

The following is a re-post from August 19, 2013


  • Chicken sandwich on whole wheat buns, tomato & cheese
  • Canned fruit cocktail (went almost completely untouched)
  • Tater tots
  • Chicken & rice soup (made by the staff and very delicious)
  • Salad bar, cottage cheese, tuna
  • Asst whole fruit
  • Chocolate frosted chocolate cake
  • Milk, water, coffee & tea

I timed it tonight.  Dinner started at 5:07.  By 5:32 the kids had eaten and completely cleaned the entire dining hall.  Not just cleaning their own dinnerware but they wipe down tables and stack their chairs.

150 kids, 150 place settings, 150 chairs, 19 tables, 25 minutes.

Think of that the next time you're ready to leave and your kid is still poking around looking for their left shoe.

Camp 2013: Menu: Monday Breakfast & Lunch


  • Oatmeal (really thick)
  • Cheerios, Cap'n Crunch
  • Scrambled eggs (powdered)
  • Sausage links (brown n' serve)
  • Hashbrowns (kinda cold)
  • Yogurt with fixings bar (a big hit)
  • Cut melon, berries, lots of fresh fruit options
  • OJ, water, milk, hot cocoa, coffee & tea


  • Herbed chicken (not dry at all!)
  • Roasted red potatoes with rosemary
  • Fresh baked rolls (a VERY big hit)
  • Corn on the cob (cold and overcooked)
  • Salad bar (looks like the same every lunch and dinner, a very good selection of fresh items)
  • Cut watermelon and assorted whole fruits
  • Grape koolade, water, coffee & tea