The Camp Band?

The Camp Band?

Camp Band Camp Ondessonk

By Pati Egan

In the early 1960s and 1970s, the Belleville Diocese had an extensive grade school band program. As an example, the East St. Louis Deanery used its grade school band as a feeder system for the Assumption High School Band. Camp Ondessonk decided to take advantage of this and create a band to play at inspection.

A school band program donated red & gold band uniform jackets, black pants, and some instruments. I have heard that the East St. Louis Assumption Grade School Band donated the uniforms and instruments. I have also heard that these uniforms came from Mater Dei. There is a Mater Dei in Breese, Ill., and Evansville, Ind. The uniforms are the old Assumption colors but are also the colors of Mater Dei in Evansville, Ind.

Campers in their red and gold uniforms are seen in the background to the right.

The campers played the Star-Spangled Banner. The drummers played as the campers walked in and when staff inspected the units, and as the campers left the Parade Ground. They also did a drum roll while waiting for the cannon to fire. I believe a staff member always played the bugle. To the Colors is a difficult tune to play,

The Certified Counselors in Training lowered the flags during inspection, and you can see in the back row, one CIT is playing the bugle.

The campers who participated in the band received a Band Arrowhead. The band had a rather short lifespan. Those who earned this arrowhead have a unique award that not too many earned.

By the mid-1970s, staff took over the drum duties. The bugle call was played over the public address system if a bugler could not be found among the staff. The Office Manager and the Riflery Instructor would have to listen closely for the command “Staff about face – hand salute.” The Riflery Instructor would light an announcer bomb that would go off over Central. The office manager would hit the play button on the tape recorder to begin the bugle call.

The puff of smoke in the background is the announcer bomb. I am certain the residents of Ozark appreciate that these 1 inch “bombs” are no longer used.

The Camp Band met its demise most likely due to a few factors. Band instruments are delicate, the cost to maintain them was probably prohibitive. Many elementary schools dropped band in the late 1970s.

Usually, Camp has at least one person who can play a trumpet. To the Colors is now played live while the flags are lowered. Inspection is a long tradition at Camp. It teaches the campers proper flag etiquette. For 60+ years the drummers have called the campers to inspection. The red and gold uniforms are gone, but the spirit lives on!

To the Colors (Bugle Call)

If you’re curious what the bugle call To the Colors sounds like, here is a link. Perhaps you’re Camp sick for Inspection.

Click here to learn more about Camp Ondessonk’s Mission and History.


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