Surviving Band Camp: (almost) Everything You Need to Know

Surviving Band Camp: (almost) Everything You Need to Know

This one time at band camp…we all got really bad sunburns. Band camp is a period of intense sunlight, heat, training, and bonding. Band camp is a whirlwind of experiences, but most importantly, it’s a time to immerse yourself into your band family culture. In order for you to focus on this, here are the top tips on how to survive the dreaded heat and exhaustion that can be potential side effects of band camp. 

Band Camp - Sun Screen

1. PROTECT YOURSELF - Apply sunblock, preferably with an SPF of at least 30, at least 15 minutes before you’ll be outside. Don’t be afraid to apply more than you think you’ll need. Get a friend to help you cover the hard areas like your shoulders and the back of your neck. Keep in mind that sunblocks are sweat-resistant, not sweat-proof, so remember to reapply the sunscreen once or twice during your outdoor block. Not only will this help to protect your skin from sun damage, but hopefully you can also minimize the dreaded sock tan and shorts tan that are the telling signs of a band kid.

2. DRESS FOR SUCCESS - There is no reason that you should ever show up to band camp in skinny jeans. Wear athletic clothing that will allow you to stretch, jog, march, and sweat. Leave your flip flops at home and instead reach for your tennis shoes (usually flat shoes like Converse and Vans are discouraged by band directors). Opt for lighter colored clothing, rather than an all black ensemble which will absorb more heat from the sun.

Band Camp Water Cooler

3. DRINK - Investing in a Camelbak (a backpack filled with water) might be the smartest decision you’ll ever make, and you’ll thank yourself when you can sneak a sip while your band director or section leader is going over a couple of instructions. Another smart drinking purchase is a cooler jug, like the one above. You can fill this with water and ice, and it’ll stay icy cold and refreshing throughout practice, unlike the Camelbak which has limited insulation power. Finally, consider having a supply of water and a supply of Gatorade (or Smart Water if you prefer something without flavor). These drinks have electrolytes, which you’ll need if you’re working outside for a couple of hours. Keep in mind that it’s important to pace yourself; don’t chug a ton of water before a hard rep, your body won’t let that go down easily. 

4. EAT - Take advantage of your lunch and dinner breaks to rest in an air-conditioned place. While some might take advantage of this time to get some extra practicing in, listen to your body and rest up if you need to. It’s better to recharge and continue the following practice block with full energy levels, than to exhaust yourself for the rest of the day. Some good energy-boosting foods for lunchtime are fruits, especially bananas and blueberries; carbs, preferably in the form of whole grains; a small amount of fat, like peanut butter, paired with a sandwich or celery; almonds and walnuts; raw veggies; and sandwiches with protein like turkey, ham, or egg. Try to avoid eating foods that are high in sugar so you won’t crash after a rush of energy.

Band Camp - Knee Problems

5. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY - Try to pace yourself throughout practice. Band camp can have a reputation for injuries, fainting, etc. This ONLY happens when you don’t listen to your body. Plus, these things are usually due to the heat from being outside, not the physical demands of learning to march. Remember that the number one concern is your health, and if you’re feeling unwell don’t be afraid to tell a member of the band staff. There’s a flip side to this coin, and that’s don’t give up too easily. After the slightest amount of exhaustion or pain, it’s easy to say, “Ok, I’m done now”. But it’s important to power through so you can build up your stamina and prepare for the 7+ minute shows you’ll be marching in a month’s time. Any seasoned band member will tell you that a positive attitude on the field makes a world of a difference in your band camp experience.

6. PREPARE - It’s almost impossible to stress how important it is to adequately prepare yourself for band camp. If you’ve been sitting around all summer and expect to shift effortlessly into band camp mode, you’re wrong. Take a walk outside, play with your younger siblings, or do some push-ups before you go to bed. Drink at least 8 cups of water a day during the week leading up to band camp. And then during band camp you can…

7. TREAT YOURSELF - By going to bed early! Your body will need as much rest as possible after a long day of hard work. While it’s tempting to relax by watching TV or talk with friends late at night, remember that for the time of band camp, your health should be your number one priority.


Band Camp

8. DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY - Enjoy yourself as much as you can during band camp. While all these tips might sound intimidating, as mentioned earlier, the most common reason people have bad experiences with band camp is that they didn’t listen to their bodies or adequately prepare. Be smart and take these tips (and the extra ones below) into serious consideration. 

9. TEAM EFFORT - Remember, you’re not the only one who has gone through band camp and you certainly won’t be the last! If you have any questions, talk to your fellow band members. Band camp is not just a time to learn the technique of marching and which places you always miss when you apply sunblock; it’s a time to get to know your fellow band members and bond with them over your awkward tan lines (and other, more important things). Everyone is in it together to succeed, a goal which can be easily lost in all these other potential issues. Be in the now, and focus on learning and enjoying the time you have with your fellow band family. It might be hard to believe, but a couple of short years from now you’ll miss it.

Extra Tips for Surviving Band Camp

  • Consider buying a knee brace or ankle brace if you have a known weakness in those areas
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. Don’t be embarrassed to wear a large hat that covers everything, it’s okay to be known as the sombrero kid.
  • Plan on bringing your own water, not mooching off of your friends’. Ask your friends to expect the same for themselves. Not only does this guarantee enough water for you, but it’ll help stop the spread of sickness (which can spread like wildfire when so many people are close together).
  • If you know that you’re sensitive to heat, consider investing in a cooling towel to wear around the back of your neck. That’s the first place you want to cool down if you’re worried about overheating.
  • If you have a serious sunburn from an earlier day of band camp, cover that burn up with clothing, even if that means wearing a long sleeved shirt or long pants. Look for athletic clothing that’s long, white, and breathable, which should do the trick. This will help the sunburn from spreading and getting worse (and from appearing in the first place).

Let us know if you have any more tips you think we should include by reaching us on Twitter or Facebook.