Hearing “the coast is clear,” the Grants Pass High School marching band rescheduled its camp to Brookings this week to ensure students had clean air to breathe.
“Last week we had extremely hazardous conditions with smoke,” said Travis Moddison, band director. “In order to keep our students safe we decided to hold it somewhere else.”
After calling several places, Brookings-Harbor schools opened its doors to the marching band, and it will be spending the next week sleeping on the gymnasium floor and practicing its marching band techniques from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The marching band has 140 students at the camp and is planning to hold a community performance at the end of next week. However, practices and rehearsals are open to the public and a full run-through of the band’s routine can be watched evenings at 7 in the soccer field behind Kalmiopsis Elementary school.
“It’s really nice to be here; it’s so hot in Grants Pass,” said Austin Basinger, a ninth grade percussionist.
The campers were out on Friday, practicing marching techniques or working on drumming. “There is a lot of technique and focus required. We always have to be on top of it and be alert,” said Megan Carney, a sophomore baritone player.
Nathan Kasdorf, a senior, is one of the band’s three drum majors. He said being a drum major is a completely different experience from playing an instrument.
“We’re one of the main peer influences on the kids,” Kasdorf said. “It makes us humble.”
The camp, which will last until Aug. 24 when the band returns to Grants Pass, can influence how the band performs, with the band participating in several competitions throughout the Northwest, including one held in Grants Pass.
“It really determines how your season goes,” said Kyra Hegdahl, a junior baritone. “If you don’t have a good camp, you’re not going to have a good season.”
But besides all the learning and practicing, the camp also helps the students’ camaraderie.
“Nobody else gets to feel the way we do,” said Alexis Gonzalez, a junior snare drummer.
“We bond as a family,” said Cabot Metz, a senior snare drummer. “We learn our show and it’s an awesome experience.”