Stories from Northwestern (Part 1)

The “Stories from Northwestern” posts are where we’ll be playing catch-up for the time that my blog wasn’t up and running due to the website renovation. And the first post is about… that’s right, band camp.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m going through my second quarter of my freshman year here at Northwestern University. Looking back to my very first experiences here at Northwestern, all that comes to mind is the Northwestern University “Wildcat” Marching Band, or more affectionately known as NUMB. Because, you see, Northwestern is a Big Ten school, and that means our nationally televised Division I football is kind of a big deal. Which, in turn, makes our marching band also kind of a big deal. Because of the high level of excellence for which Big Ten Bands strive, most Big Ten Bands ask their members to come in a few weeks before the start of the school year for band camp, where everyone learns (or refreshes) the basics and do nothing but band-related things for every waking hour of every day.

And when I say nothing but band, I really mean it. Everyone, including the freshmen, move into the temporary housing on the very first day. It’s like any other college move-in day, but only much smaller in scale and for only band geeks. You say goodbye to your family and make new friends, and you don’t know it then and there, but that moment is the beginning of some very long-lasting friendships (and in some cases, romances). You wake up every morning thereafter, eat breakfast, report to rehearsal by 8:30am. Then you practice until 9:30pm, save for lunch and dinner breaks. And you do this with the same 180 other student musicians for two weeks. That’s band camp.

As you can imagine, as the days grow longer and the legs get sorer, the friendships get tighter and the bonds become stronger. Going through band camp with someone is an experience that will forever change how you view them.

Despite the physically taxing schedule, NUMB keeps the spirit high throughout band camp and onto the rest of the season. Spirit, after all, is what we’re all about. And for me, that’s what NUMB is all about. Sure, NUMB wouldn’t be what it is without the music or band camp or numerous other things that all contribute to the experience. But when it comes down to it, our spirit is what keeps us united. Our spirit keeps us shouting our drum cheers after long days of rehearsal, our spirit keeps us doing the traditions from generations before. Our spirit, the spirit of NUMB, is what I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

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