GeekNights Thursday - Camp

Tonight on GeekNights, we discuss the very American (and even then only for certain segments of America) idea of Summer Camp. Band Camp, Day Camp, Science Camp, and the like also fit in. In the news, J-Bars are tools of the devil, the world of mapping and navigation data is complex, and you can help US Democrats win Texas in multiple ways that require your time and skills rather than your money.

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Christ I’m glad I just refused to play clarinet any more after eighth grade if marching band camp is like what @SkeleRym says. I was in Boy Scouts so I did a week of sleepaway camp every year from when I was like eight until I was sixteen. It was cool you signed up for classes to earn merit badges and by the end of the week you earned like four or five, and you could just go do activities for funsies to. I learned to build a bridge with sticks and rope, did rock climbing and repelling, learned to shoot sporting clays and target shooting with a .22 rifle, boating, wilderness survival, all kinds of fun stuff.

I also stopped playing for the same reason. Freshman year of high school I joined the concert band. When I saw the militaristic culture of the marching band, I chose to not continue. Not even just teachers and instructors, but apparently senior students who were section leaders would be telling other students in their section to do push-ups or run laps and such. This was considered normal and acceptable. Probably good I didn’t join because there would have been a big scene the first time I told someone to go fuck themselves.

What area was this? Any chance it was T L Storer? Camping was pretty much the only part of scouts I liked, and summer camp was fucking legit.


Nah this was Rotary Scout Reservation up in Poestenkill New York. I liked camping and the rest of it was okay in Scouts, a couple of my friends were in my troop and we spent most of it goofing off. Our scoutmaster hated it, he was very… not militant but took it really seriously. The hard way was the correct way basically. Like when we did a day hike but he carried a bunch of gear like we were doing wilderness camping. He jacked up his back and we had to divide his shit between us and carry it all out. We sarcastically called him Fearless Leader behind his back.

Hah. Yeah I had friends in scouts but once I started high school I joined a bunch of clubs and quick scouts pretty quickly. I was still Second Class when I quit cause I never bothered with the promotion requirements.

I was dragged through to get Eagle rank by my mom. It sucked cos I was way over scouts by then but it looks really good on a resume so I can’t complain too much.

Band camp for me wasn’t anything like what Rym described, and we were a hard core competitive marching band.

For one thing, it was just a day camp. We’d arrive just after lunch time and then we’d practice until about 9 PM with an hour off for dinner at about 5 PM and then we’d go home. This took place during the last two weeks before school started for the year.

Are eagle scouts as culty as they seem?

Nah, people who couldn’t do the drills were just let go from the marching band. No drama. Also, people who had disabilities, injuries, or the like were excused from anything that didn’t make sense for them.

All summer I’d meet once a week with the horn section, and twice a week with the entire band for drills and then choreography. End of summer was two weeks of band camp away.

After school started, we had practice until well after the sun set on the field once a week, plus 2 full periods of field time during each school day.

When I was section leader my senior year, I’d run drilldowns in the morning. People who failed out had to do laps, and got some extra tutoring.

The drilldowns made people better marchers: think of them like quizzes in a regular class.

The laps were equally important: playing in a real marching band is heavy exercise and requires substantial lung and cardiovascular capacity. It counted as a gym class. Laps and other exercise were a basic part of it.

We also had a day camp for a week or two, separate from the away camp. Dawn 'till dusk every day.

In some circles maybe? But every time I meet one it’s just like, Eagle scout? Eagle scout! Then reminisce about dumb scout stuff.

I forgot this. Marching Band was always scheduled for 5th period at my school. 5th period was always slightly longer than the other periods, because it included lunch. Some classrooms had first lunch, which meant you went to lunch first, then to class. Some had second lunch, which meant you stopped in the middle of class to eat. Band was always third lunch. They would practice, then eat.

Except they never showed up to lunch on time. The band director would keep them in there and sometimes they would go to lunch as it was ending. Sometimes they never even showed up to lunch. If I had been in the band I would have left immediately when third lunch started no matter what the director said.

This isn’t 36 year old Scott talking either. I have clear memories of band friends complaining they were hungry and I told them to just walk out when the bell rang. Nobody did.

I would have definitely been a major disturbance if I had chosen to join the marching band.

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That sounds like a living hell.

How so? It’s just like being on a sports team.

If you were on the football team, you had regular practices outside of school, including physical exercise and drills.

If you were on the Quiz Bowl or Debate Team, you had regular practices outside of school and drills/exercises.

You hit the nail on the head with “It’s just like being on a sports team.”

Heh. Like I said, in my school they would have just kicked you off the marching band and put you in the concert band instead.

Marching band was parallel to the other bands. Anyone in marching band also had to be in a normal band: non-negotiable.

The other bands were, in order of quality/skill:

  1. Freshman Band
  2. Concert Band
  3. Symphonic Band
  4. Wind Ensemble

There was also an orchestra and a jazz band, but neither of those counted.

I was, for example, in Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band for three years. So I had band 1st, 6th, and 7th, and 9th periods every day. I didn’t bother scheduling a lunch period (it was optional).

I played baseball though highschool. It was not this crazy. It was afterschool practice. Sure the practices could get intense, involving running and and fielding and long distance catch etc. All that really happened was you showed up to practice, showed up to games, and that was it. Basically 0 interaction with school.

I heard other schools had like ralleys or some shit. Not where I lived.

Well… Senior year I also joined the orchestra, so I had another band 8th period. But I was just a horn player for them and usually just skipped it.

As long as I showed up to important practices and the concerts (and played well), I got an A even if I never went to the class.

Marching Band was a varsity sport and counted as such. But unlike the other sports in the school, it didn’t have a JV or intramural equivalent: only varsity.

The JV/intramural sports teams were way more laid back, but all the varsity teams had camps and serious practice in and out of school.