By Allison Owen I was looking back at some of my old articles this weekend, and I'm amazed at how far I've come in the past year. That may seem kind of weird, but I can't believe how much I've changed since I marched corps. Drum corps was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. A finals medal and great tan lines aren't the only things I brought home with me in August. I learned so much about myself --and those I marched with -- and I can't wait to do it again. I learned responsibility while marching corps. Instead of worrying about what I would wear that day, cleaning the house, or writing a paper for history, the only things I had to worry about were myself and getting my stuff taken care of. No one was there to make sure I knew my work or kept up with my dot book. If I didn't know how to do something I found out quickly. There's something about being on your own for three months that makes even the most irresponsible person grow up. Another thing I got out of my first summer of corps was learning how far I was willing to go to accomplish my goals. I was somewhat surprised by some of the things I found out, though. I spun rifle for the first time, tried new food, grew to love watered-down Gatorade, and found that I really didn't like junk food and soda as much as I thought I did.

I'm pretty sure my stomach shrunk this summer. My body got used to eating pasta salad and fruit so much that on free days I couldn't even eat half of what I would have before I left. I had never really cared for tomatoes, but when my only options for lunch were peanut butter and jelly – again -- or a tomato sandwich, I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked eating a piece of tomato between two slices of bread. I visited more places this summer than some people will in a lifetime. How many people could say that one day they were in Indiana and the next they were in Mississippi across from the Gulf of Mexico? Sure, spending tons of hours outside in the summer heat rehearsing may not sound too appealing to some people, but I can think of no better way to spend my summer. Enid, Okla., and Siloam Springs, Ark., may not seem like the perfect vacation spots, but I have memories from these places that will last me a lifetime. One of the best parts of the summer, in my opinion, was the friendships I made. On the PBS broadcast this year one girl said something that really stuck out to me. She said something along the lines of, "You can call someone you marched with and they'll be there for you in a second." I think that's something you can't truly understand unless you have marched; there's a bond that forms when you spend 24/7 with the same people for three months. You eat, sleep, shower and sweat with them day after day. You become a family and when the summer is over, and you have lifelong friends because of it. These friends "get" you like no one else ever could. These are the people that you would do anything for, and they'd do the same for you.

If you're considering marching corps, but you're not quite sure if you want to give up your whole summer; DO IT! My first summer was probably the best time of my life and I wouldn't trade any of it for anything. It has made me a better person and I'll never forget the experiences I had in drum corps. You'll never know unless you try!