Behind the scenes: Housing set-up

And a great show followed by a regrettably preventable theft

Regardless of the similarity in score, The Cadets’ performance was worlds better last night than the previous show. The corps seemed much more confident, and (as far as I could tell) there were no major ensemble tears to speak of. The show is definitely still a work in progress from both an achievement and a design perspective, but based on my six years here, I would say that The Cadets are looking strong for late June.

Unfortunately, due to a major communication break-down, the high school we were staying at yesterday was left unlocked while The Cadets warmed up and performed. When the members got back to the gym, three iPods, two HTC phones, two iTouches and one person’s cash had been stolen. The police took down descriptions of the items and we’ve been online trying to locate the iPhones using their GPS tracking feature, to no avail so far. We’re so sorry to those who were affected.

The convoy rolled into the parking lot of Liberty High School in Kissimmee, Florida at 8:00 this morning after another long drive south. Groggy members and staff piled out of the buses, squinting in the morning Florida sun. Bus sleep certainly isn’t the best sleep for anyone, and thankfully they’ve got two hours down before breakfast at 10:00.

For the rest of this post, I thought it might be of interest to talk through the housing set-up process, since I always wondered about it when I was marching.

Corey Moore is our housing guy on the admin team. He works in the YEA! office in the off-season, and throughout the year he diligently contacted schools in every city The Cadets are going this summer to find the best housing sites possible (based on location, field/stadium quality, etc.). On the road, Corey calls the band director of each housing site a week before we are schedule to arrive, then again the day before, then the hour before.

During the night of travel, the admin RV leaves the convoy to get as far ahead as possible after the first rest stop. Our driver wakes Corey up when we’re about an hour out (although he usually stays up), and Corey gives the band director a call to make sure they’ll be meeting us at the school on time.

Thirty minutes out, Corey wakes up the rest of the admin team, and we sit around in sleepy delirium for a few minutes, then start getting radios, yellow Cadet signs, duck tape and dry erase markers together.

When we pull in, we all shake the band director’s hand, and then they quickly show us around. We figure out where we’re parking the convoy and the band director shows us to non-GFI outlets and water hook-ups which determine where we can park the food truck. Patrick then walks out to the street corner at the entrance of the school, or sometimes further to the last red light, to wait for the lead bus.

Then we plunge into the school and try to familiarize ourselves as quickly as possible as the band director leads us through winding hallways to the gym and other sleeping rooms and locker rooms. We put up signs at each destination, then go back to the entrance and put up more signs to direct everyone to their respective sleeping and showering areas. Wayfinding has to be clear enough that the half-asleep masses can navigate through the school with no trouble.

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While I finish taping up signs and drawing colorful arrows, Corey heads outside with the band director to check out the fields so that he can tell the field lining captain (this year it’s Jesse Garcia) where to go in the morning. During this time (and hopefully not too soon) we start picking up our night Transportaion Manager, Dave Holland, and the other drivers on the radio. Chris and Kevin station themselves in the parking lot, one where the convoy will be, one where the food truck will be.

After that, it’s smooth sailing. Dave stops the Entertainer (design team/volunteer bus, also known as the Rock Star Bus) to pick up Patrick who directs him into the correct school lot. Then the guys help the drivers park while I stand at the door and smile, open doors and point people in the right directions, just in case they don’t read the signs.

From there, the food crew starts setting up and, on a day like today, starts cooking breakfast immediately. And that brings us into the day’s schedule.

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