Band Camp

Something recently triggered my memories of attending band camp when I was in high school. We would travel by bus to a large camp somewhere near Tobyhanna, PA, and spend about five days learning the fall show. It was everything you would hope the experience would be: fun, informative, social, and very challenging. Early morning “marching and maneuvering“ practice was the WORST. We would descend on the practice field still covered in heavy dew, and our feet stirred up all of the resting mosquitoes and no-see-ums (it’s a Pennsylvania thing.) Luckily this was done without instruments, so our hands were free to swat and slap.

Those days in the heat promoted bonding that I still feel with my fellow band members when I see their posts on FaceBook. I had the opportunity a few years ago to officiate the wedding of a former drummer’s daughter. We don’t even live in the same state, but the friendship that began on a sweltering practice field in the August of our youth made it seem like a natural fit, and it was a joy to re-connect with old friends.

Many of us probably don’t remember how to play the instruments we carried during those years. None of us could recall the intricate routines. We probably can’t remember all the names of the songs we had to memorize. But the bonds we made in those formative years last forever.

Philippians 2 (The Message)

1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Band-life was Philippians 2-life. Except for the chair challenges, when each player tried to capture first chair in their section, we did not push ourselves to the front or try to get our own advantage. When we hit the field, we were a community that felt a deep-spirited friendship, and we worked together to defeat the other bands. We were a team.

If you have ever been part of something bigger than yourself, you understand. God calls us into community so that we might bond with other workers toward the same goal. In the community of believers, that means humbling ourselves in the way that Christ did:

5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! 

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Where is God calling you to take second chair? Where might you make a bigger impact by putting others first? Is God inviting you to forget about yourself, and offer a helping hand to someone else?

Being part of God’s bigger vision for your life means being a part of a deep-spirited community. Let us choose to love one another, agree with one another, and be deep-spirited friends. This is the way we will win the world.

East Coast Champions by the Record Breeze via Greta Mattingly


  1. Mason Coonie Smith · February 14, 2020

    I know what you mean– I was in the Elizabeth City HighSchool band for 8 years. I learned a lot about life !


  2. Flannelnerd · February 15, 2020

    I remember, and perhaps Betsy does too, that the marching band’s repertoire included “Be Still My Soul”, the hymn with music by Jan Sebelius.


  3. Nancy Simpson Anderson · February 16, 2020

    that is a beautiful story u wrote it well, i was never in the band but i do remember a time myself n my mom went to a competition it was awesome fun we enjoyed the entire event. former Eastern High school student
    enjoyed reading u article


  4. Richard Sellers · August 3, 2020

    Betsy, i can honestly say, looking back, that was the time of my life being in the best band, and the respect we had. I still talk to old bandmates today, and i still play my saxophone,that i played in high school.there is a lifelong bond, that only God knows, because he brought us all together. God speed with what you do. Love evryone for life


    • Betsy · August 3, 2020

      I agree. We were soooo blessed to have each other during that precious time. So blessed, and we didn’t even know it at the time. It was magical.


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