HAYS, KS --- More than 230 middle, junior and high school students from Kansas and five surrounding states converged on the Fort Hays State University campus for the 54th annual Hal Palmer High Plains Band Camp.
Ninety-three schools have contributed some of their music students for one week to produce the second largest band camp in the state.
"The kids get to practice alongside their own teachers and with professionals from around the country," said Bob Brown, camp director and FHSU professor emeritus.
Brown has been in charge of Palmer's Band Camp for the last 12 years. He was previously a woodwind specialist for the camp and an associate professor of music for FHSU.
The attendees began an average day from the dorm rooms where they are housed with breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Band rehearsal was at 8 in the Memorial Union followed by a free period. Then sectionals began, which led to ensembles and finishes off with lunch at noon.
After lunch the campers had another band rehearsal and a 45-minute mini-class on any of a number of topics. After a recreation period, the day concluded with dinner at 5 p.m.
"My older brother was here the last two years," said seventh-grader Trenton Roth from Hays' Kennedy Middle School. "He said it was fun, so I came."
"I came to meet new people, further my education in band and learn new pieces," said eighth-grader Dylan Schuette from Dodge City Middle School. "Mostly I came to have fun."
On Saturday, all of the campers' rehearsals were put to the test in a series of concerts at the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center in Sheridan Hall.
The middle school ensemble concert began at 10 a.m. followed by a high school ensemble concert at 11. The middle school band concert was at 1 p.m. followed at 1:30 by the high school choir concert. The high school honor and silver bands performed at 3 p.m..
These concerts, all of which were free to the public, punctuated Hal Palmer's High Plains Band Camp with an exclamation point.