Once again, I enjoyed a most incredible weekend in the Garden State with The Cadets. I flew up to New York early Thursday morning to visit my sister. How early? Well, I had a 6:30 a.m. flight -- gotta love those. I checked my bags on the curb and the skycap asked me what was in the case. Clearly it was my mellophone, but he thought that it was a sewing machine. First time I've heard that one. Anyway, once inside, I made my way upstairs to security, which is always my favorite part of flying (sarcasm off). I'm pretty sure I was still asleep because I attempted to go through the metal detector with my backpack still on. Usually I get my entire backpack searched because I have mouthpieces in there.

Paula Hyman (left) and Laura Westmoreland.
It's always funny watching them look at the X-ray screen because they have no idea what they are. I know they are just doing their job, and I appreciate that they are so thorough, but still, it's just a mouthpiece! So, they usually empty my whole back pack and then I tell them it was probably the mouthpiece, as most TSA employees call flutes. "Oh, it's just a flute John, don't worry about it! Let her through!" This time around I decided to take the mouthpieces out of my bag, which avoided a backpack and metal detector search. Awesome. By time I got on the plane, I was awake as could be. I flew Jet Blue for the first time ever, and they definitely take care of you. All of their seats are leather, and they give you amazing snacks like Doritos and chocolate chip cookies -- all things that I should be eating to get in shape for the summer of course. After snacking and a little TV watching (yes, each seat has a TV in the back of it), I passed out and awoke when we touched the ground at La Guardia. I gathered my suitcase and "sewing machine" from baggage claim and made my way outside to catch a taxi. My sister lives about 10 minutes from the airport, so I decided to take a cab so she could sleep. It was great spending time with her. Friday around 3 p.m. I got picked up by Joan and Noel, who have been longtime members of the Cadets family. Joan is the corps nurse and her husband, Noel, has done everything from driving busses to vans for the corps. They are wonderful people and I know they have touched the lives of everyone who has marched in the corps and I love them dearly! We stopped for dinner on our way down to New Jersey. It was great to spend time with them and talk about the Cadets. I love hearing old stories about the corps and they definitely have plenty of them! We got to camp around 8 p.m. and I could hardly contain my excitement. Brass rehearsal that night went well. We don't really get into too much on Friday nights since we only have a few hours. We did lots of air with Chad Pence, which made us all feel like passing out, then Gino warmed us up and we played through a couple of random tunes before calling it a night. We had quesedillas for snack, and they were awesome.
Saturdays are always long at camps, and this one was no exception! We woke up around 8 a.m. and my favorite breakfast of all time was awaiting me -- chocolate chip pancakes. We started off the day as a full horn line, and did our usual warmup with, of course, more air exercises that made us all want to pass out yet again. We worked through a few tunes before breaking into small sectionals to work on our show music. We got the last bit of our closer entitled "Mirrors" this weekend, as well as a couple of minor changes to our opener, "Liquid." When we first got "Liquid" back in December, I thought it was the greatest thing I've ever heard, and there would be no way to top it. Well, Jay Bocook has proved me wrong since each piece we've received afterwards just gets better and better. "Mirrors" is the most incredible thing I've ever played and I can't wait to put this thing on the field. I don't know if the drum corps world is ready for this. For lunch, we had cheeseburgers, seasoned fries, and fresh fruit bowls. The volunteers are too good to us. Once food coma set in, we began a four-hour visual block -- at least I think it was four hours. We were supposed to go outside and learn drill but due to the monsoon, we stayed indoors. This was a super productive block and we got a ton of stuff done. We finished it off by having this year's rookies do two of our exercises together, then the class of 2004 went, etc., all the way back to 2000. It was a lot of fun to get to watch everyone do his thing. Interesting fact: Our rookies march like beasts this year. I don't know what's going on, but I like it. The straight legs are in. After visual we had dinner, and then went back to small sectionals to hack away at some more music. We got back together as a full brass line later on in the night to piece together the "Mirrors" as well as run through the rest of the show as well as a few additional tunes. Our chops were pretty beat, but we still had ensemble to do! It was like a reward getting to hear all that we worked on together with the pit and percussion. Our drums are absolutely wonderful. After ensemble, everyone's lips and hands fell off, and we headed to snack. I can't remember what we had -- I think leftover quesedillas and turkey noodle stuff. Sunday morning we actually had breakfast and then had a meeting with Hop before starting brass rehearsal. We discussed the season, why the rookies came here, why the vets came back, and lots of other stuff. We did more air yet again with Chad to start things off. The general consensus of the horn line was that our arms were killing us. I usually don't hurt like that (that I could remember anyway) but maybe they just worked us way more than usual. It's a good thing though -- bring the hurt! The hurt will definitely be there on day three of spring training, when we all wake up feeling like we've been hit by a truck. Can't wait for it. The Crossmen actually had a camp this weekend as well, so we were sharing facilities. One group would rehearse in the middle school while the other was in the high school. We ate meals together and got to do a performance for our alumni organizations on Sunday. After rehearsal, we got to hear the Crossmen perform their show, and they got to watch us. It was a very cool experience that both the corps and alumni enjoyed greatly. It was nice to see so much support and to actually do a performance this early in the year! Afterwards we packed up, cleaned up the school, loaded the trucks and called it an amazing camp. My flight didn't leave until 8:30 p.m. so team Ithaca, Colleen, and I went to Wawa, Chinese Buffet, and then Wawa again. My flight was delayed a whole lot, but luckily one of my good high school friends (and fellow Cadet), Michael, was on my flight so we just hung out for a few hours. I got home at about 3 a.m. and went to work early that next morning. Fantasy weekend was over and I went right back into the swing of things. I also have to work early tomorrow, so I'm going to get going.
Have a wonderful week and thank you for reading! Paula Hyman is a fourth-year member of the Cadets where she is the mellophone section leader. She is 20 years old and currently single. Originally from South Florida, Paula recently made the move to Allentown, Pa., to work for YEA!, the umbrella organization of the Cadets, Crossmen and the U.S. Scholastic Band Association. She ages out in 2006.