Drum Corps International
Getting away from it all: Report from a Colts' camp

Getting away from it all: Report from a Colts' camp

by Drum Corps International

By Joe Smith As my final year of high school draws near, the end stress levels seem to be building up. This last weekend, though, was a nice little vacation away from it all. We had camp by the Mississippi in the corps' hometown of Dubuque, Iowa.

Joe Smith
Unfortunately Friday night I was late arriving to camp because of a concert band performance. I was very lucky though, because Julia and Jake Ansley stayed in the Des Moines area long enough to give me a ride to camp. We made it just in time for rehearsal to end and snack to begin. I was disappointed because I missed the introduction of a brass staff member named Tom Lizotte, who is from Maine. Saturday morning was the general routine for camps: Wake, shower, eat, calisthenics. After a nice twelve-minute run around the school that seems to be on a steep hill, we finished our stretching. During the morning block we had warmups then split into sectionals. The mellophones ended up in the cafeteria, which didn't seem to help my hunger because they were baking brownies and I could smell it. We dug heavily into the closer and then worked a bit on the opener right before we broke for lunch. After lunch the brass and percussion headed outside to the "hybrid" baseball/football field to work on drill. There we reviewed a few sets of drill and put the people absent at the last camp into it. The guard then joined us on the field to work on blocking drill together. While we were working on drill we could hear the front ensemble working on music just a bit out of our eyesight. Then towards the end of the breezy afternoon block the front ensemble joined us so that we could start to march and play part of the opener as a full corps. I have always loved doing full ensemble with the full corps and this weekend really whet my memories of marching and playing that I still carry from last summer. After dinner we met for a full corps meeting then had a short performance by the Dubuque Horn Chorale before our evening block. The founder of the horn chorale marched for Phantom Regiment in the late '70s and another member of the group is a Colt alum from back in the Colt .45 days. Once we were done listening to the performance we once again broke off into sectionals. The guard worked once again in the small gym doing a dance/movement block from what I have been told. The percussion section took over the gym to work as a section on a few parts. The horns split into sub-sectionals once again to work on a minor change in "John Henry/Threshers" and to work on the rough edges of the show. At around 10 or so the percussion and brass joined together in the large gym to full ensemble. We worked on the entire show throughout our last 2 1/2 hours. The block felt almost too short, but I was quite sore when we finished and my chops were pretty much slaughtered for the evening. We finished the evening around 12:30, at which point most of the corps helped the percussion load all of their equipment on the semi-truck. We then had down time until lights out at 1:30 a.m.

Matt Gibson woke us up with the famous "Good Morning Colts" at around 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Whether or not we were fully rested in our opinions is another story. We had a great breakfast with one of my all-time favorites, bacon. After calisthenics with Craig Armstrong and Beth Wilson we split up into our respective sections. Percussion headed straight over to Dubuque Senior High School where they would warm up. After a short but sweet warmup the horn line worked on a few spots in the show and ran several of the pieces before breaking to head over to Senior High School for lunch and a bit of lunch before the performance. After riding the bus over with a few other members and staff, we had our short lunch, mixed with the Colt Cadets. After lunch we had a short full ensemble block to make sure everything was shipshape for the performance. We then lined our horns up on the outskirts of the gym or in the hallways and came back to watch the performances of other groups. At 2 p.m. to a large audience, the performances started. Many different groups were involved besides just the Colts. The venue started off with a 5th and 6th grade flag team from one of the local elementary schools. Then the Dubuque Senior High School color guard did a wonderful performance to some of the music from the movie "Chicago." The two Dubuque Youth Choirs then sang for the audience. The Dubuque Youth Chorale sang a medley from the movie music of "The Lion King," which featured two young vocal soloists. The piece also featured three young dancers that Colts guard member Liz Theobald helped with. Once the youth choirs were finished, the Colt Cadets took the gym floor. The performance surprised me with how well they are doing; they have improved quite a bit especially from last season! After the cadet corps played two pieces from their show entitled "Snoop Dog" they left the floor and we came out as the final group for the afternoon.

Greg Orwoll, the corps director, announced our show "From the Heartland" and announced our drum major, Matt Gibson. After a few tuning chord progressions Gibson took over. The run of the show was extremely good, and although I don't remember some parts of it, I have recordings that I can listen to that remind exactly how it went. After the performance an older gentleman came down to meet both the Colts and Colt Cadets. The man was Bob Buelow, who is the founder of the Colts. He looks to be doing quite well for his age. Buelow seemed extremely to see how far the corps has progressed within the last 41 years. I am extremely pleased with how this weekend went and how much we accomplished. I'm very excited for next camp when I move in with the guard and percussion, and also our first performance in uniform of the year in Dubuque.

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