Let's Talk About Band Camp 2018

So let's get to the heart of the matter. Some situations have arisen that fundamentally change how we conduct band camp. These factors include, but are not limited to:

1. Finding a consistent site for FMB camp has been difficult. We are essentially locked into having band camp the week after the Union County Fair. If we do it the week before the fair, so much learning will be lost due to lack of reinforcement. Learning a show and taking 10 days off will lead to weeks of re-teaching. This also means that pre-camp would be set to begin on July 9. That is simply too early for all involved.  If we go the next week, it is the week before school starts. We ALL have preparations to do for the upcoming school year.

The problem lies in the fact that university academic calendars are continuing to creep earlier and earlier. The week we usually hold camp is now not an open week for every local university. We have investigated camps at Otterbein, Ohio Wesleyan, Kenyon, Denison, and Urbana, and none are open for camps during our week.

2.  I am not comfortable taking my group to a more rustic setting. It is true that there are 4h camps and scout camps that can accommodate us, but the lack of private bathrooms and lack of privacy in cabin housing is not something I am comfortable with. The lack of A/C and sometimes even functional window screens are also an issue at some of these sites. While that might be just fine for 4h and scout campers, it does not offer a pleasant camping experience for all band members and staff. I have to look out for the safety and comfort of all band members.

3. While Wittenberg is open for business our week, the price has become exorbitant. $300 is the top cap that parents and I have discussed as the breaking point for band camp. We realize it is a steep fee, especially for families that have two or more children in marching band. All of the veterans also know about the other detractors from our 2017 camp experience as well.  Also, in 2018, the football stadium will be under renovation. While the surface will remain clear, pretty much all the grounds around the field will be full of noisy construction equipment. It's not an atmosphere conducive to rehearsing.

4. The amount of preparatory work required from directors and camp staff has become too much. We essentially have to pack up our entire department, including the field, and move it 45 minutes away...and then move it back again.

With all of these factors taken into consideration, we have decided it best for the everyone involved to hold FMB camp at FHS this year. Many many schools (including all of our local neighbors) hold camp at their own facilities. It's cheaper. We have everything we need, including an air conditioned rehearsal room.  The boosters and I will work very very hard this year to make FMB camp the learning and bonding experience that members expect except that we will not be having a resident camp.

So here are some things to look forward to:

*Plenty of shade will be provided at the rehearsal field via tents. We'll be looking into some larger structures for this as well.

*We will have power run to the field this year, so PA issues will be fixed.

*Boosters will be catering lunch and dinner every day. Band members get to sleep in their own beds and have a healthy breakfast at home before arriving at 8am.

*The schedule will be very familiar to veterans: Morning field rehearsal, afternoon music, sectionals, and memorization. Evening will be another field rehearsal and social events. Attendance will be absolutely required for all band members, just like when we go away. No appointments, work, or other events are to be scheduled during this week.

*We are planning a lock-in/sleepover on Thursday night of camp, pending approval from the administration. It will be a chance to spend some quality time together and have some "away from home" camp fun.

*There will be daily spirit days where members can plan what they wear and things they do based on the day's theme. Band leadership will help program these as well as the daily social events.

*The end-of-camp show will be on our own practice field.

*Camp will cost significantly less than in past years. The high-end figure right now is $120. This will give much relief to most families. Yes, you heard that right. ONE HUNDRED TWENTY DOLLARS.

I understand that this will be a big change, and that some of you might be somewhat disheartened about this, but I assure you we will work together to continue to make FMB camp an unforgettable week.  We still have a lot of details to work out, so much more information is to come. We're hoping that this actually INCREASES the number of students that can take advantage of the opportunities that marching band participation presents.  You, the member, have the promise of the directors, staff, and boosters, that this will be a change for the better. Please keep an open mind and help me find ways to make this a very special week for all FMB members.


Mr. Keller


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