Band Camp Advice from a Veteran Band Mom

Marching Band Tips
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For my kids’ school, the marching show for next year was just announced, and the leadership clinic is fast approaching. Band camp dates are on my calendar. This will be my fourth year as the mom of a marching band kid, and we are already gearing up again. Looking back, there is so much to know if you have a kid going into marching band. Here are some of the things that I wish I had known and things I still do. Buckle up. It is a wild, fun ride!

Lean into Challenge

First up, you need to know that marching band and band camp can be a fun, rewarding experience, but they will be challenging. Your kids will make friends. Your kids might cry. You might cry, too. Everything will be so sweaty, and your teen’s grumpiness will be impressive.

Encourage them to lean into that challenge. Sitting out and shrinking back will isolate them and rob them of confidence. As you help them lean in, remind your kid that camp is often the hardest part of the season. Lots of kids have told me that the band gets fun at the first football game. However, games and competitions can’t be fun if you don’t put in the hard work at band camp.

Plan For Success

Clear the calendar for band camp. Juggling camp with appointments, summer jobs, etc., will run your kid into the ground. While you have your calendar out, put competition Saturdays and game nights on the calendar. Also, be sure to plan for lazy Saturday mornings during marching season; you’ll need them.

Physical Preparation to Beat the Heat

Most importantly, get your child’s physical before band camp. Get chronic conditions under control. Get a hydration plan from your doctor. Being physically ready for camp will be a huge gift for your kid, and an annual checkup is your starting point. Also, if your child needs accommodations, discuss those with the director ASAP so they can be addressed. 

Kids have headaches, get irritable, and pass out from not eating and drinking enough. Yet, they may not feel like eating or drinking. So, it’s important to make a plan to keep your kids hydrated and fed. Have lots of favorite drink options on hand and take more than necessary to camp. Have light meals and snacks ready. Some of my kids’ go-to camp foods and drinks are sub sandwiches, cold fruit, applesauce pouches, popsicles, popcorn, pretzels, multiple flavors of sports drinks, juice, Skittles water flavors, tea, and lemonade. 

In general, hold off on caffeine, dairy, carbonation, and heavy or greasy foods until after the last session of the day. These kinds of foods and beverages tend to bring nausea with heat and exercise. Also, watch out for energy drinks, because some of them contain ingredients that (in high doses) can reduce heat tolerance.

Starting in May, make your kid get daily exercise in the heat; otherwise, the heat and activity of band camp will be simply miserable. Remember, they will be walking quickly while blowing a horn in August! And finally, make your kids go to bed on time during camp and marching season. A full night’s sleep is a game changer for attitude, endurance, and heat tolerance.

Tame your Mama Bear

When your kid is feeling tired and challenged, you might want to unleash your temper on the band director, chaperones, or other band parents and kids. Instead, put the claws away and tell your kid they can persevere. Your patience will allow your kid to build confidence in their ability to work hard and meet challenges. 

Also, encourage your kids to put their claws away and be understanding. Everyone at band camp will be grumpy at some point. Your kid will have stronger relationships if they don’t take grumpiness personally. You can model this by treating them with understanding, too.   

Expertise of Others

Finally, rely on the expertise of your directors. With high school, college, teaching, and non-academic bands like military and DCI, even the youngest directors have 10-12 years of band experience. Lean on their expertise even if you don’t yet understand every detail.

Befriend band parents and take their advice. Other band parents gave me so much advice along the way. And I am still getting advice from them.  Take advice from parent of kids who play summer/fall sports or do scouting. They will have lots of tricks to help their kids beat the heat. Also share your advice along the way.

What’s your advice?

  • Have you put a kid through band camp?
  • Have you put a kid through summer workouts like football or cross country or put kids through physical summer camps like scouting?
  • What is your advice to help kids get through activity in the summer heat?
  • What is your advice to help make summer workout camps fun? 

Share your wisdom in the comments!

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Michelle H
Michelle grew up in the Trussville/Pinson area but has lived in Leeds for 22 years. Michelle has been married to Todd for 25 years. They have 3 boys: Erik (16), James (13), and Micah (9). Michelle’s mom also lives with her family. Michelle has a Bachelor’s in Bible and Theology from Southeastern Bible College and worked at her alma mater in institutional and educational research for 14 years. Michelle works a couple hours a week teaching preschool childcare for The Church at Brook Hills. She also teaches a ladies' Bible study class and provides leadership to some ladies' multigenerational classes. She also volunteers with Leeds Elementary School and the Leeds High School marching band. In her spare time she likes to read and play around in the arts and crafts.


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