“This one time at Band Camp…”

FHC Marching Band members spill the details of their week long trip to CMU in summer of 2015

Caroline Kuiper

More stories from Caroline Kuiper

Looking out over the fresh new faces of the marching band, senior Drum Major Hannah Peper steps on to the podium to conduct them in a run through of their halftime show. As the tunes of Blues Brothers reach her ears, she thinks back to her past years at band camp as a regular marcher, and how being a Drum Major this year has turned her camp life upside down.

“There’s so much I didn’t realize the Drum Majors took care of,” Peper said. “Before I had kind of just thought everything happened, but the Drum Majors make a lot happen. It’s great planning things for people to bond over and then seeing them have a great week with them.”

This amazing experience is the Forest Hills Central Band Camp, an annual week-long summer getaway to the always scorching Central Michigan University for all members of the marching band and visual unit. For the past two decades, these students have taken a week out of their lives to devote to playing their instruments, practicing their show, and bonding with their peers over crazy activities.

Throughout the week, the schedule for these marchers was a fast paced mix of practices, bonding, and almost no sleep. Every day kids were practicing on the field or in the gym for up to nine hours, and whenever they were not practicing the group was together getting to know each other better and welcoming in the new freshmen.

“You come into the camp looking at all of these freshmen who don’t really know anyone,” said new band director Robert Ash. “Then by the time the school doors open all of these kids have over 200 new friends to count on when they’re back home.”

The overwhelming favorite moment for many band members this year was the third annual Hunger Games, a race run by the Drum Majors in which the various sections of instruments are divided up and compete against each other in zany activities until a champion was crowned.

“We did a hula hoop thing where you had to connect arms and get the hula hoop to the end of your line without letting go,” freshman trumpet player Matthew Candela said. “We also did a cardboard car race around the gym along with a ton of other fun things.”

Not only was the camp filled with funny moments, the musical training was intense and serious. Each day was filled with hours upon hours of practicing pieces, formation, and overall technique in playing. Each section received special training from professionals, something that really helped the students articulate their notes and learn new tricks.

“I can play longer and higher than I used to be able to,” said Candela. “My mouth is much stronger and that was definitely something that camp helped me be able to do. It helps now that I’m back in school and don’t have as much time to practice that.”

Like any amazing experience, however, band camp had to come to an end. As every member who left spoke of their new bonds, Peper looked back on her week along with the many memories of band camps and seasons past, a smile crept across her face as she thought of the good times.

“Band really accepts everybody and brings people out of their shells,” Peper said. “Watching my friends become leaders over these few years at the camps and beyond has been priceless for me.”