There are no fish in Fish Creek. Well, unless you count the giant sculpture on top of the pub.
I don’t remember seeing a creek, either.
I did see an awful lot of gorgeous banksia bushes, a lot of music, endless smiles and a significant amount of Unstable Unicorns… which meant I didn’t really notice the lack of fish or absence of creeks.
But what was I doing in the inexplicably-named Fish Creek? And why was I taking so many photos?
Let me answer those questions with another one: Would you like to find out what really happens on Band Camp?
There’s a quote about Band Camp…
What happens on Band Camp stays on Band Camp.
It’s a lie. Whenever I go on Band Camp, I talk about it constantly. I talk about it in the lead-up to Band Camp. I talk about it while I’m on Band Camp. And I certainly bang on about it for weeks afterwards.
I’m surprised I haven’t written blog posts for the past two Band Camps. I must have been too busy going on about them to innocent bystanders until they fell asleep out of desperation.
But when something is this much fun, it’s your duty to share it with everyone, isn’t it? I gave you an introduction to the whole Band Camp experience a couple of years back and it’s time I gave you a bit of an update.
Plus, we went somewhere different this year, which meant I took a lot more photos.
So what really happens on Band Camp?
Food is important
There may have been a wee bit of a food fight on my second ever Band Camp in school. It was a little strange, given we were all massively well-behaved students who were least likely to step out of line in class. Yet I definitely remember the food flying on the bus trip.
That sort of thing doesn’t happen on Band Camps now, but there’s still a focus on food. We have a tradition of massively over-catering for the whole event, which means we spend the last half hour of camp trying to find someone who wants half a dozen roasted potatoes or a mostly-unused bottle of sesame oil.
But that’s better than running out of bread on the last morning or only bringing enough snacks for the clarinet section.
This year, we met up for dinner to kick proceedings off. We feasted on fish and chips and all manner of delicious meals and enjoyed a fabulously convivial multi-instrumentalist dinner. Clarinets dined with flutes. The tuba conversed with the trumpets. We talked with people who are usually over the other side of group when we rehearse and it was fabulous.
We also spent a fair amount of money in the local cafés. Even though Fish Creek is a small town, around eighty percent of the shops are cafés, so we were never at a loss for a caffeine fix. (FYI, The Paddock was our favourite.)
You may have thought Band Camp was all about the music. Now you know: the food comes first.
There is music eventually, of course. In fact…
You’ll play more music than you thought possible
Our regular rehearsals run for seventy-five minutes each week, and that includes setting up.
On Band Camp, we manage to run through the equivalent of at least three normal rehearsals, including sectionals where each section of the band has a dedicated rehearsal on their own.
We needed extra space for our rehearsals this Band Camp, so we rented the Fish Creek Memorial Hall for our rehearsal space. There was a bit of a booking mix-up with a yoga class in the morning, but that gave us time to check out one of the other cafés, then amuse rail trail walkers with our instrumental warm-ups in the park.
By the end of the day, your fingers are tired and your notes don’t sound as crisp as they did in the morning, but you still want to keep playing. It’s a happy sort of exhaustion.
After the day’s rehearsals are done, you head back for dinner and suddenly you’re ready to sit around the piano or someone playing guitar and sing along with the group. The music never ends!
Band Camp is always in the country
Band Camp is always a bit of an escape. In theory, you could have it in the suburbs, but it’s much more fun to pack up the car and head off to new and interesting places in the country, far from the busyness and demands of everyday life.
There’s nothing like gazing at a glorious sunset while a saxophone player brushes up on their flute playing just a few metres away from you.
Someone always brings a tent
And they always seem pretty happy about it, which puzzles me greatly.
Sometimes, people bring a swag, which is pretty much a sleeping bag with a tenty-type bit that covers your face if it rains. They seem to enjoy this experience, too. This puzzles me even more.
I much preferred my cosy bed indoors. Once I’d set up my sleeping bag, it felt exactly like those school band camps I remembered, except with fewer teachers and no food fights.
It’s not all about the music
You may have picked up on this already, but there’s a lot more to Band Camp than music. There are always adventures on offer in between rehearsals. On our first Band Camp, we visited the fascinating pink cliffs in Heathcote. (The time after that, our only exercise was walking across the road to a café.) This time, we had new things to see and new places to explore!
With the morning’s rehearsal and sectionals done and dusted, my fellow flute player and I headed to yet another café for lunch to fuel ourselves up for some adventures. We wandered around town before driving along a rollercoaster of a road to reach an amazing lookout and then a nearby town where you could drive along the beach.
We, alas, did not drive along the beach. I didn’t even know you could until we were walking along said beach, avoiding the occasional bit of traffic.
The end is always the worst part
This never changes. After a weekend packed full of music, food, friendship and adventures, it’s hard to pack up and contemplate the drive home. We drag our feet as we load up cars and divide up the excess food (I scored a jar of Robert Timms coffee and the aforementioned sesame oil this year). We draw out the farewell conversations on the deck with the gorgeous view.
Eventually, we have to face the fact that it’s over and we need to go back to ordinary life again.
And that’s what really happens on Band Camp.