The vibe at Glynn Academy’s band camp can go from playful to serious in a matter of moments.
On Monday morning, nearly 150 campers were enjoying popsicles in the shade, where they were making friends and cooling off from the humid weather. And just minutes later, the entire band was in formation, all silently concentrating on learning the drill steps.
Glynn Academy’s marching band kicked off its annual summer camp on Monday.
During the two weeks of camp, the band members start from scratch, learning the basics of marching and rehearsing performances for the fall. They also go through crucial team-building experiences, said Christopher Duke, the band’s director.
“There’s limited time once they go back to school, we’ll be back and we’ll be into performances pretty quick,” he said. “The biggest chunk of learning happens during band camp.”
Both high schools have band camps going on this month. Brunswick High’s camp began July 13 and will wrap up on July 28.
Band camp acclimates the students to the activity, which is more intense and physically-demanding than most people realize, Duke said.
“There’s a lot of stamina that you have to build up,” he said. “You come out here the first day, and you start slow and you build them up and kind of strengthen them from their core, so that when it comes time for the big time performances they’re prepared for it.”
The students begin the first day practicing steps without instruments. Later in the camp, they’ll begin to learn drill formations, memorize their positions and practice the music.
By the end of the camp, Duke said, they’re capable of running an entire show.
“It’s a very methodical process,” he said.
On Monday, the students were divided into sectionals, practicing their steps, and they were just beginning to learn to move and play as a unit, said Christopher Goodson, an assistant instructor at the camp.
“The fundamentals we’re doing right now are important to teach the freshmen who are coming in and to refresh the returning members,” he said.
And just as important is the team building that goes on both on the practice field and in the spare moments between rehearsal, Duke said.
“It’s really a unique opportunity to have them come together and work together for such a long amount of time, and they build friendships that are stronger than any other they’ve ever had,” he said.
Carter Marks, a rising Glynn Academy senior, has been a band member for four years and is one of this year’s three drum majors, the top student leaders in the band.
The friendships formed during camp are vital to the success of the band, he said.
“We spend so much time with each other, and everyone becomes really good friends,” he said. “And especially for the freshmen, it’s good for them to have friends when they get to school.”
Rhylie West, a rising junior and a drum major, said the band relies on each member’s hard work and commitment.
“In sports like football, you have people on the bench,” she said. “But in band, nobody’s on the bench. Everybody’s putting in 100 percent of their effort.”
She said she’s learned how to be a leader through band. And from the first day of camp, she feels like she’s among family.
“It’s definitely a passion, because … I’ve realized from the start that this is really what I want to do. My favorite place in the world is definitely on the podium,” West said. “I just feel so comfortable around everybody, and it’s an environment that you’re really accepted in.”
The hard work the students put in during camp will pay off once the season starts, Duke said.
“These are the best kids you could ask for,” he said. “They’re dedicated, they work hard and they focus together. And the biggest thing is they set goals and they achieve them.”