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Leadership positions have been posted. Students are buzzing about next year, angry parent phone calls have died down, and you are getting emails and mailers about upcoming summer marching band leadership camps.

Marching band leadership camps are a fantastic experience for you students and pay dividends throughout the season! You know this because you see the results or maybe you even attended one your self back in the day(I did and I still use skills/lessons learned from the camp today as an adult). But because of the cost, you send one or two per year…just the drum majors…and then any kid who wants to pay their own way.

The thing is, ALL of your students need to be going to a marching band leadership camp and here’s why:

1. Whether you have students who are natural leaders or students who aren’t quite there but have the desire to learn, all of them need to refine their skills.

Some students seem to be born with leadership skills, others just the desire to learn how to lead. In both cases, development is not only possible but necessary. For the natural leaders, some skills need refinement(their charisma can be refined into better conflict management, their eagerness to do everything refined into delegation). For those eager to learn, research shows that many skills can be taught as long as the desire to learn is there.

2. Your students will have a more consistent leadership style.

There are many philosophies of leadership out there, some more effective than others. Regardless, it can be confusing for band members if leadership styles vary from person to person. Leadership camps provide the opportunity for students to learn a consistent leadership style.

3. Leadership camps provide an opportunity for your student leaders to plan for the upcoming season.

It’s not always easy to fit in time for your leaders to find time to meet, especially when school isn’t in session. If the leadership camp happens before band camp, it will give your leaders plenty of time to set goals and plan for the upcoming season.

4. Leadership camps give student leaders confidence and a morale boost before the season starts and energy going into band camp.

Band camp is full of hot, sweaty days that can zap the energy right out of students. It is important for your leaders to start at a high level because the energy will inevitably fade by the end of band camp. If your leaders feel confident, they will be able to better lead the band.

5. Leadership camps provide an opportunity for your leadership team to bond

A close leadership team will set the tone of bonding and togetherness for the band. If you’ve ever had a leadership team that was divided, you know how damaging it can be for the band. A united leadership team helps create a united band.

Now, you may be thinking that’s great and all but how the heck am I going to afford sending my entire leadership team to band camp? Camps can cost $300-$1000+ per student.

Easy, you do it yourself and host a mini leadership camp at your school! Now, you may be thinking, that does NOT sound easy. But, with a little bit of time and planning, you’ll have a camp template you can use each year.

Here’s how to get started on how to plan your own leadership camp you can host at your school for less than sending:

  • List out the leadership skills that your students need to work on and pick 6-10 of those skills – this could be anything from communicating to running sectionals. Keep a running list in your phone and add to the list as you go through the season so you can add or take away sections of your leadership camp
  • Find activities for each skill you want to teach in your camp – there are thousands of awesome leadership based videos on YouTube. TEDtalks are a great place to start because they tend to pack a lot of learning in a relatively short amount of time. This website has a bunch of ideas for activities.
  • Create guiding questions for discussion after each activity and key takeaways – at the end of each section, have a few questions prepared so students can discuss what they learned. You may want to encourage students to bring a notebook so they can save their thoughts to look at later.
  • End with a plan for the season – none of the leadership camp matters if your leaders don’t actually take what they’ve learned and apply it during the season. Take time at the end of the day to allow your students to develop a personal plan they’ll work on during the season. You can also have your leaders plan goals for themselves as a team and for the whole band.

Don’t have the time to put a leadership camp together? Don’t worry!

I created an entire 6-8 hour Marching Band Leadership Camp Training complete with everything you need:

  • Director Suggestions and Tips
    Includes FAQs/tips/suggestions, sample schedule of 1 and 2 day camps, and preparation to do checklist
  • Marching Band Leadership Slides (PowerPoint and PDF included)
    34 slides that include discussion questions, videos, and activities plus 1 blank slide
  • Student Workbook PDF
    34 pages of questions and exercises that correspond with the leadership slides plus 2 additional notes pages
  • Marching Band Would You Rather? Icebreaker PDF
    Start off your leadership training with a fun activity. Includes 20 marching band would you rather questions included plus a sheet that allows you to create your own.
  • Leadership Goal Planner Sheets PDF
    2 pages that consist of a full week spread. Includes goal focus and reflection for each week
  • Editable Letter to Students Word Doc
    Pre-made letter written in a word doc for students on your leadership team giving them details about the camp

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