Burke and Wando marching bands battle the heat during band camp

‘Water Warriors’ putting in work behind the scenes of Wando band

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Bulky instruments, fast tempos and the blistering sun, that's what marching band students are dealing with at band camp.

"5,6,7,8," a majorette counts out the steps to her routine as the Burke High Steppin' Bulldog Marching Band practices during camp.

They're trying to perfect their routines that get the crowd on their feet.

Dondre Smith, a band student said, "Band camp is a lot of hard work and dedication. You got to be here, you got to do what you got to do, but in the end it all pays off."

Band director Linard McCloud says parents and staff keep a close tab on kids as they practice.

"45 minutes of drill, 15 minutes of relaxation and get out of the sun before 12," said McCloud.

The performers know all too well what could happen if they aren't prepared to face the sun every day.

"It could lead to stomach pains, exhaustion, dehydration and it's not good when you're on the field," said Smith.

East of the Cooper at Wando High, the 8 time state champions aren't letting the high temperatures slow them down.

Drum major Emma Gierszal said, "You need to have a hat and sunscreen all the time to protect your face. But it is very hot, very tiring, it'll just drain the energy right out of you, but you just need to keep pushing."

The kids use all kinds of hats to shield themselves from the sun. Their band directors pay close attention to the heat index.

"Well under normal conditions, we take a break every 40 minutes. If the heat index is higher, we'll take a break every 25 minutes and sometimes even more often than that," said Scott Rush director of bands.

While band camp is a lot of work, both directors say the kids will take a lot from the experience.

McCloud said, "We are our brother's keepers so we watch out for each other. We make sure you do what you're supposed to do in the classroom away from the band and in the band."

Rush said, "It's important that we establish this is kind of a family atmosphere and that we're all working together towards the same goal."

Both bands will continue 12-hour rehearsals for the rest of the week.

'Water Warriors' putting in work behind the scenes

Before the week is over, the Wando marching band of nearly 280 students will go through about 10,000 paper cups used during their water breaks.

There's a special group behind the band who jokingly call themselves the "Water Warriors."

The group is made up of parent volunteers who help out whenever they can often time setting up water and Gatorade for the kids.

A lot of the parents even take time off work to volunteer during the long hours of band camp.

"We get here at 7:30 in the morning and we do 3 shifts a day. For this week it's 7:30 in the morning until 9:30 at night," said Allison Walshe.

The thousands of cups used during rehearsals will be recycled as part of a school project. Parents say the cups were donated and the band program relies on help from several places.

"It is very much a community effort so we could not do this without our sponsors," said Walshe.

Parents say it's a team effort. There are more volunteers than just the "Water Warriors."

There are parents who sew uniforms, build field props, serve as chaperones on trips and even doctors have offered their medical service.

All of the help keeps the band program up and running.

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