Our summer has once again begun and our son has gone away to begin his summer of drum corp. We all did this last summer. Been here, done that. But, I'm finding its just about as much of an adjustment as it was last year. And I wasn't expecting that.
This is his second summer of marching an extreme version of marching band all summer, traveling all over the country and competing at shows, culminating in the DCI (Drum Corp International) World Finals in Indianapolis in August. This is marching band on steroids. This is NOT the "easy A" everyone remembers band to be in school. This is kids aged 14-21 spending their summers practicing, outside, inside, everywhere they can all day, everyday and putting together a cacophony of music, props, design, color and heart like you have never seen. Some of the corps have chosen classical, serious, dramatic selections for their show, emphasizing the music of composers that never could have imagined their pieces in such ways. Some have chosen jazz or popular, comical, light-hearted selections placing more emphasis on a story told or a visual circus to tantalize our spirits. Each corp is judged at every competition on the execution of the music, the preciseness, the musicality. They are judged on the props, their integration to the instruments, their individuality from the instruments, their preciseness and creativeness. These kids from corps all over the country spend their entire summers living together, sleeping on school gym floors, eating from their individual food trailers and traveling on buses, some touring, some school for hours and hours on end to the next competition on the map. And constantly practicing. In the rain, in the sun. A smart parent would buy stock in sunscreen and bug spray companies.
Every couple of weeks a corp will schedule a "free" afternoon or day to sightsee and/or take care of personal needs like laundry. Their wardrobe consists of t-shirts and shorts and if anything is new and nice at the beginning, chances are they may need burning by the end of the summer. And quite often they come home a completely different color than what they were when they left.
These are just a few of the lessons the kids learn on their own all summer. Or don't learn. But somehow, with or without their moms help or doing, they make it and they are somehow a changed kid from the experience. They return home more mature, more disciplined, more independent. Not only have they learned discipline, they have learned excellence, striving and work ethics. How many things actually do that for our children these days? If you would like a real treat, please go to http://www.dci.org/ and find a show in your area to attend. Cheer on a bunch of kids that are giving 100% of themselves for an entire summer and let them know how much this country still appreciates such great entertainment.