This Fourth Time, at Band Camp

I turn to my right and see fellow saxophones fiddling with their newly purchased Heelys. One will be involved in a Heelys-related wreck by dusk.

To my left, the drum line has stripped down to sports bras. Most members of the drum line are men.

I stare ahead at a football field filled with sunburnt freshmen, struggling to maintain their lines. Many will have lanyard and neck strap tan lines by Thursday.

Someone shouts, “Dicks out for Harambe,” again.

Why am I here? I ask myself, again.

Logic and marching band do not mesh. Thankfully, I’m a highly illogical senior who refuses to quit fun.

And the Gold Star Marching Band is fun. Wholeheartedly unabashed stupid fun.

Though it’s not always sousaphones and giggles.

Band camp is a sweaty weeklong affair, with band geeks working on their 8-to-5 roll steps from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Temperatures got hot this year, but not as bad as my first camp in 2013. That year, we had a trombonist drop from the heat — on the first morning. Expired sunscreen and accidental lathering of tanning oil later led to copious amounts of aloe slathering.

That toasty week concluded with my first gig at West Fargo High School, where we marched in uniform in 90-degree temps.

I’ve taken drier showers. I don’t care how out-of-shape we collectively are; we are (technically) an athletic band.

We are a 200-piece marching hot-mess express, and I love it.

Marching band director and Pantene shampoo model Sigurd Johnson repeatedly calls us “the best multitaskers in the world.”

It’s not as hyperbolic as you’d think.

The Gold Star Marching Band of North Dakota State is a one-credit course that meets for five-plus hours on weeks without a home football game. Game day weeks include these aforementioned hours, plus one’s entire Saturday. Saturdays for the saxophone section start with cat-piss flavored coffee courtesy of Perkins at 6 a.m. and ends with dog-dump tasting Little Caesars at suppertime.

For those keeping score at home, that’s nearly 20 hours committed to band during weeks with games. And then there’s travel time.

How naïve of me to think I’d be done riding the bus after high school. The bus rides, especially ones to Frisco, are long and increasingly rank as the hours, and days, trudge along.

I wouldn’t spend these hours, and days, any other way. With my bandies, I’ll do nearly anything.

I met my first friends from college in band. My closest friends are from band. My only freshmen friends this year thus far are from band.

The GSMB is the most diverse, inclusive student organization on campus. Engineers march alongside educators; super-duper seniors practice music with the freshest freshmen.

This hodgepodge of students unites together, sharing a love of music making and Bison pride and dank memes.

People ask why, as a senior with four jobs and involvement in five student organizations, would I do this again. I ask why not.

Marching band provides the crazy, stupid fun that keeps me sane.

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