Watching "Price is Right" at 10 a.m. has become a kind of tradition at the High Plains Band Camp, which is currently in its 56th year at Fort Hays State University.
More than 200 middle school and high school band students from approximately 85 schools in Kansas are participating in the camp, with hopes of not only fine-tuning their instrumental skills. But also of making lasting friendships.
Sarah Snow, 7th-grader from Soule Intermediate Center in Dodge City, said that while she has learned a lot about playing the flute and percussion, she has also made many new friends. During her first year at camp, she has taken classes in areas that she was not previously familiar with.
"I learned how to play swing music and tympani," she said.
The students start the day out with breakfast around 6:30 a.m. and then head to mini classes that focus on fundamentals and other aspects of music besides just playing the instruments.
Emporia Middle School 7th-grader Raelynn Pearson plays the oboe and learned how to make oboe reeds in mini classes. However, she said that the dances in the evenings were her favorite part of band camp.
After mini classes, the students go to rehearsal, where they practice for their concerts with their groups. After rehearsal is the much-anticipated viewing of the "The Price is Right" on the big screen television in the Memorial Union. If game shows are not for them, they can just relax or hang out on campus.
Following this break comes ensembles. All the different instruments group together and practice with only the same instrument and come up with songs to play at their concerts.
Lunch is the next feature of the day. The students relax and eat lunch in the Memorial Union cafeteria.
Sectionals are the next stop for students. Recreation time comes next. Students can nap, go to the arcade, play volleyball or swim.
Then they meet up for dinner before attending the faculty recitals. Faculty members present at the camp, along with the soloists who are working with the students, demonstrate their abilities to the students.
Once the students go back to the dorms, the groups get together for meetings which outline the next day's activities as well as comments about what went on that day.
According to Bob Brown, camp director, soloists from Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, Canada and other areas have been present at the camp to add a different perspective to what the students typically learn in the classroom.
"They get exposed to a higher level and quality of music than in school," he said.
He added that not only do the students learn, but many teachers from the schools learn as well.
"It's a great time for public school teachers to study with outstanding soloists from across the country," Brown said.
There's something about the High Plains Band Camp that tends to draw students back year after year. Damon Newell, head men's camp counselor, who now teaches band in Pretty Prairie, said this is his 15th year at this camp. In fact, he attributes his career in music to his experiences at the camp as a student.
"I came back every year because of the memories I made with students, staff and faculty at the camp," he said. "I still talk to people that I met at band camp when I was 12 years old."
Whether it's the friendships or the instruction that the students experience at High Plains Band Camp, the camp continues to bring students in every year, making it the second oldest band camp in the state. Maybe it's the daily viewing of "The Price is Right."