By Allison Owen On Friday afternoon, Taylor, Josh and I set out for Rock Hill, S.C. I didn't really know what to expect, but I knew this was a dream I was following through with. I wasn't really nervous. I think I realized that I could obviously only do what I was capable of doing, so there was really no reason to be worried about what I didn't know how to do. When we finally got to camp there were huge lines for registration. I registered, paid my camp fee and got my nametag. Surprisingly I still wasn't feeling nervous. I saw quite a few people I recognized -- mostly '05 vets -- and some friends from school and my local area.

Allison Owen
There were actually a few people that came up to me, looked at my nametag and said things along the lines of, "Hey, you finally made it. Welcome!" For some reason that made me feel pretty good and even better than before. From the moment I arrived, I felt very welcomed.

After a while of walking around and meeting people, I brought my stuff inside and changed into appropriate rehearsal clothes. Soon after changing, we had a typical "Welcome to the corps" meeting. It was exciting to see all the people that had come to audition. Everyone seemed either nervous or excited -- and with some I couldn't really tell which emotion they were experiencing at the time. I know that I was excited to see what the weekend would hold. Before we were dismissed to go rehearse, we all gathered around Bob, the drum major, and the vets sang the corps song. It was so cool to be surrounded by a huge group of people and listen to them sing a song that meant so much to them. We were soon released to go to our sections and begin the weekend. The guard had another little informative meeting about how the weekend would go and what kind of things were expected of those who would ultimately be selected for a spot in the color guard. After any questions were answered and we had a general idea of what to expect from the weekend, we spread out to learn a stretching warmup. Some of it felt a little odd, since I wasn't used to it, but it was fun to learn. We went through the routine several times in chunks and as an entire exercise with music. I wasn't having too much difficulty with any of it. Granted I certainly wasn't perfect, but I at least knew how it was supposed to look. We moved on to flag basics after our stretching exercise. Tootie, another tech, taught us how to hold our equipment with confidence and look intimidating. He mentioned things I had never really thought of, but now intend to use in my daily spinning. We had barely reached a couple counts of dropspins before it was already time for snack. Our evening block, although short, had flown by. I showered, ate snack, and sat around talking to some friends. Soon it was time for lights out, so I went back to the girls' sleeping area and prepared for hours of some good drum corps sleep. The floor was just as inviting as it had been when I left it in August. The lights were making a buzzing noise that was bothering some of the other girls, but I've learned to adjust to whatever surroundings I've been placed in. The buzzing of the lights didn't faze me and I drifted off into my first drum corps sleep of the 2006 season. I awoke to the sound of "Good morning ladies!" and a normal morning rundown of the time, breakfast location, and start of rehearsal time. Even though I had woken up several times during the night, I felt well rested and ready to start the day. When it was time for rehearsal to start after breakfast, we went over our stretching exercise from the night before. I remembered it all, which was surprising compared to some of my previous auditions. We went through it a few times together and then stretched out some more. After this review it was time for basic dance techniques and across the floors.

We then began to learn our combination for show-and-tell. It was pretty modern, seeing as our dance tech Jenn is a modern dancer, but I actually caught on to most of it fairly quickly. There were a few things that I had a little bit of difficulty with, but after a little while I had most of it down pretty well. Of course I wasn't perfect, but I felt a lot better about it than any other audition before.

Once we learned the whole combination and went over it several times, it was time for a little bit of flag basics before lunch. Just like Friday night, Tootie gave us several things to think about every time we were holding our equipment. We did some spinning and before I knew it, lunch break had arrived. During meal breaks I tried to meet new people and talk to those I had seen before but didn't really know. One thing that really stuck out to me about the whole camp was how friendly and welcoming everyone was. I felt really comfortable talking with almost everyone I met

Our afternoon block was dedicated to spinning. We learned a few flag exercises before the weapons left. When it was just the flag auditionees, we broke down the exercises and worked on all the checkpoints. After breaking everything down I felt more confident about the new exercises. We also learned the exercises on the left side and worked on some tosses. Again, time flew by and it was already dinner break. We had another meeting after dinner about basic corps policies and camp schedules. Several times throughout the weekend we were told that everyone is invited back to the December camp. It was a bit comforting to know that no matter what the outcome of the weekend was, I had a chance to improve and come back in December. The evening block was dedicated to learning a flag routine with a lot of body underneath it and reviewing the dance combination from that morning. We worked everything out in one large group and then performed in smaller groups for each other. Even though I was slightly out of my comfort zone with some of the dance and flag work, I was having a pretty good time. I tried not to let myself get too frustrated with anything, because I knew that if I kept working on things I would eventually figure it out. When we finished up the block Saturday night I was beginning to feel a little pain from all the stretching and dancing we had done throughout the day. Even though I had gotten a little frustrated at times, the day had overall been really enjoyable for me. I was having a good time and learning a lot of new things at the same time. Sunday morning was a block of reviewing everything we had learned over the weekend. We worked in small groups again as well as in large groups. Jenn made sure that we knew where all our checkpoints were and the rest was up to us. In our last run-through of the dance combination, I rolled awkwardly at one point and my ear began to hurt pretty badly. When we finished I reached up to check my ear and there was blood on my hand. Somehow my earring had ripped out and my ear began to bleed. I thought I had cleaned it up for the most part, and we all went to the other gym for show-and-tell. When we got in there I touched my ear again and realized that it was bleeding pretty profusely, so I asked Jenn if I could go clean it up some more. I ended up missing the show and tell performance, but I did get to see the percussion and horn line. Wow, they sounded pretty amazing -- for the first audition camp especially. I can't wait to see what December will bring because I'm pretty sure great things are going to continue to be in store for Carolina Crown.

We finished cleaning up and prepared to go our separate ways. The guard ratings had been posted on a wall, so I went to check. I talked to Jenn and Tootie for a minute about how I had done and felt pretty good afterwards. I have every intention of returning for the December camp; in fact I KNOW I'll be there. I now know what to work on and how to do it. I learned a lot at camp and had a really good time. For the first time that I can remember I didn't wonder what time it was or how much longer until the next break. I truly enjoyed my weekend with Carolina Crown. Everyone seemed to be so welcoming and friendly that there was no way for me to not enjoy myself. Everything about the camp was really good for me. I learned a lot and was pushed slightly out of my comfort zone, but I felt that it was all within my reach if I work hard enough. Overall my first audition weekend there was a great time and beyond anything I could have imagined it being. I don't know what my future with Carolina Crown will hold, but I can say for sure that I'll be there in December ready to learn more and try new things. Allison Owen, 17, is a senior at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, Tenn. She was assistant conductor at Southwind, and she enjoys dancing, performing, color guard, writing, English, and having fun. She plans on attending Western Carolina University next fall...