Band camp is a great time to build community, establish operating procedures, and set the tone for the entire marching band season. Here are some tips to make yours most effective.
1. Establish Health and Weather Procedures
- Insist students wear hats.
- Establish a policy for timing the length of water breaks.
- Establish a routine for physical warm-up and stretching.
- Clearly state procedures for what students should do in the event of weather and other emergencies.
2. Orient Your Staff and Student Leaders Before Camp Begins
Your teaching staff and student leaders need to already be functioning as an effective team before camp begins. They need to understand their role and how to report issues up the chain of command.
3. Establish Routines
Post a daily schedule where everyone will see it upon arriving.
4. Build In Some Fun
Theme days at camp can be fun and build community. Pajama Day, Crazy Hat Day, and other activities add variety while you are blocking all that drill.
5. Establish Goals
Have specific and measurable goals for each segment of your time together.
There’s no such thing as too much communication. Share information on a “need to know” basis far enough in advance and with enough repetition that all stakeholders get the message and respond. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.
7. Set the Tone for How Things Begin and End
Students retain more of what happens at the beginning and end of a segment. Start by sharing goals and providing models. End by sharing what worked and what didn’t and releasing them to the next segment with a positive spin.
8. Do Everything You Can to Get the Drill Blocked by the End of Camp
Unless weather keeps you away from the field, shoot for having it all done, with the musicians at least singing their parts, by camp’s end.
9. Don’t Forget About Your Family
Band directors are passionate about band, and their band members become a second family. Don’t forget about your first family. They understand that this is important to you, but their understanding is limited.
10. Don’t Forget About Yourself
Prepare, pre-plan, delegate, pace yourself. Your students need you to be physically and mentally functional. Take time for other pursuits to give your mind and body a break.
Adapted from 10 Quick Tips for a Successful Band Camp by NAfME member Thomas J. West.
—Becky Spray, Originally posted August 11, 2010, © National Association for Music Education