By Julianne "Gumby" Stennes Leaving my house in New Brighton, Minn., at 6:10 p.m. to head over to Irondale High school for color guard practice is not an unusual activity for me. But this particular part of my routine is not usually surrounded with as much excitement as it was last Friday night when I left my house to go to March camp. After seven minutes of driving I arrived in the old familiar parking lot, but as I entered the building for the fourth time this week and probably the thousandth time in my life, it struck me exactly how lucky I am -- and not just lucky for the short drive (although I am sure some members may envy me for that). What was really amazing about this camp was how so many of the things that bring me joy, inspire me, and define my personal identity could come together in one weekend. The first thing we did once camp started was to head down to Irondale's old "upper gym" for a full-corps stretch. For most of the corps this gym is just another forgettable place, one of many we are sure to see during our adventures as a drum corps family; but for me this place has been one of the most important spaces in which I have lived my life and formed my identity. It was here that I first spun a flag, and where a friend first called me "Gumby." It was here that a piece of fabric on a pole and a character made of green clay first became inseparably tied with my personal identity. Now, once again, I was back in this old familiar place, practicing hard and working to be a better performer and a better person. In addition to practicing hard all weekend, on Saturday night the color guard got to go and watch state color guard finals. We saw many of the same groups we had seen earlier when we went to another local guard show during January camp. It was a great opportunity to bond with each other and to see how far a color guard can come in just a few months. We also got the opportunity to cheer on some of our fellow Blue Stars who are members of some of the performing color guards. Our dance instructor, Michael, was with us all weekend. The dance he taught us for show-and-tell was one of the most difficult and beautiful I have ever done. Michael is a professional dancer, and as someone who has worked hard and made dance his life, he is an inspiration to all of us who have a passion for our art. Throughout the camp the corps was surrounded by many other people who inspire me and who embody what this drum corps is about. New people like Bill Sucha, Gary Swanson and Greg Struve remind us that the Blue Stars are going places. Old faces like the Furlanos and Eric Miller, who are the heart of the corps and the embodiment of what a Blue Star is, reassure us that no matter what changes may come, this is still the same corps that we all fell in love with. There is no better place than Irondale, the school where I learned to love colorguard and worship drum corps, to remind me that the Drum Corps I pour all my love and devotion into is alive and well. For me, this camp was about reflecting on where I have come from and where I am going, and also reflecting on the bright future the corps has: one that is solidly rooted in our and strong past. Julianne Stennes a captain of the Blue Stars' color guard. This will be her third year as a member of the corps.
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