Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps 2014 Volunteer Tour Manual

Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps
Volunteer Tour Manual
Ascend Performing Arts
1137 South Jason Street
Denver, CO 80223
(303) 777-1937
E-Mail: [email protected]
Web site:
1137 South Jason Street
Denver, CO 80223
(303) 777-1937
E-Mail: [email protected]
Dear Volunteer:
The Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps has been one of the World’s elite competitive drum and bugle
corps for over 25 years. Each year the Corps tours coast to coast and is viewed by millions of fans in person
and on TV. The Blue Knights travel in excess of 12,000 miles each summer with an entourage in excess of
200 persons carried in four motor coach style busses, 3-4 vans, two semi-tractor trailer rigs and various other
vehicles as needed.
On the field, the Blue Knights wow audiences with their class, precision and excellence as performers. It is
through the development of this performance that the young men and women in the corps develop the skills
and discipline that will transform them into incredible adults. These performances do not happen without an
incredible effort during rehearsals led by a staff of designers and instructors that are amongst the best in the
world. Behind the scenes it takes a herculean effort to provide a positive, healthy and safe environment that
enables them to focus upon their performance.
Key to providing this experience is our “support team” of volunteers, drivers and administrative staff. These
individuals work tirelessly cooking meals, sewing uniforms, managing housing sites, providing medical
support, selling merchandise, driving and performing a multitude of necessary tasks needed to keep the corps
moving down the road. In this manual you will find job descriptions for the support team and helpful hints
that will make your participation as a part of this team just a little bit easier!
I invite you to join us this summer for the experience of a lifetime! This is a rare opportunity to truly make a
difference in the lives of some of the most incredible young people in the world!
Mark Arnold
Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps
Tour Volunteer Manual
To Prospective Tour Volunteers:
Thank you for considering spending some time as a summer tour volunteer. Those who have been on tour
have found it to be one of the most rewarding things they have ever done. It is said that the greatest rewards
come at a price, as in no pain, no gain! In all honesty, this describes tour. It may well be the hardest, yet
most satisfying, thing you have ever done.
This manual has been prepared as a guide to help you determine if tour is something in which you might
wish to participate. By evaluating job duties and expectations, you will be able to better understand your
choices for participation.
Basic Jobs, Options and Requirements
1. Bus Driver: Requires proper license (CDL), excellent driving and safety record, etc. This is usually
a hired position but if you are a professional driver and could volunteer, it would be greatly
appreciated. The nature of this position requires that it be coordinated through the Blue Knights
office. If you are qualified and interested in a driving position, contact Mark Arnold, Executive
Director, at 303.777.1937. The basic job description follows:
a. Most driving is done at night.
b. Sleeping is usually during daytime hours in shared area with other drivers.
c. Basic understanding of bus mechanics, willing to do required general maintenance, bus
washing, etc.
d. Must submit to drug testing, have current medical card, CDL and provide current MVR.
e. Must be a team player showing good rapport with other drivers, staff and corps members.
2. Truck Driver: Requirement is same as bus driver. Arranged through the Blue Knights office. Call
Mark Arnold, as above.
3. Van, RV & Other Drivers: Requires a valid driver’s license and excellent driving and safety
record. Again, driving positions are arranged through the corps office. The basic description:
a. Most driving is done at night. You must be able to stay awake without a lot of noise or
companionship, as your passengers have to sleep.
b. Sleeping is usually during daytime hours in shared area with other drivers.
c. You must be a team player with a cooperative spirit.
d. You must have a willingness to help with other duties when awake. Examples: help in cook
trailer, setting up drink area, serving food, selling merchandise, errands, airport runs, etc.
4. Fly-ins & Short-term Volunteer: These volunteers can help with souvenir sales, errands, food,
drinks, shopping, uniform/flag sewing, etc. Hours and accommodations are the same as for other
volunteers. This is a great area for volunteers who have only a day or two along the way. It is quite
common for parents and family to stop in when the corps is in their hometown area. Extra help is
appreciated and the reward for services is getting to share a meal with the corps. If you help, you get
to eat!
5. Meal Sponsorship: Some families provide a meal for the corps when the group stays and performs
in a member’s hometown. Arrangements can be made through connections with your band,
organization, churches, etc. This is a wonderful treat for the corps and provides the cooks much-
appreciated R&R for a while! Contact the Tour Cook Coordinator (information at the end of this
6. Tour Chef: Responsible for meal planning, food purchasing and the overall quality and cleanliness
of the entire food service program. This is a paid position. Those interested should have extensive
experience in all aspects of food service. If you are qualified and interested in this position, contact
Mark Arnold, Executive Director, at 303.777.1937.
7. Food Service: This is the area requiring the most personnel and possibly the most demanding of the
jobs for the summer tour volunteers. Those who have previously toured believe this job has the
greatest contact with members and staff. The personal rewards here are great. The following is a
more in depth job description:
a. Food Service volunteers work under the direct supervision of the Tour Chef. As menus are
planned not everyone needs to be a great cook. In most cases it is just a matter of being able to
follow directions. If you have cooking skills beyond the basics they will be put to good use.
b. You must be able to function with a minimal amount of sleep--usually no more than 6 hours
per day. Most sleeping is done on van seats, with usually (but not always) one person per seat
in order to lie down. You will sleep in shared area with other cooks when staying at a facility
c. It is IMPORTANT that you drink lots of water!
d. Bulk cooking requires heavy lifting. A lot of what is carried will require 2 people.
e. Dishes have to be washed, drinks made, tables cleaned and lots of chopping, etc.
f. Being on tour requires physical stamina. Many hours are spent on your feet wrestling with
#10 cans and cauldrons! On an average day the kitchen serves 4 full meals to approximately
180-200 people.
g. Some agility is helpful…you frequently will need to navigate stairs with full hands and climb
a ladder in the food truck. Everyone doesn’t have to be a monkey, but we need to know your
level of skill.
h. You must be a team player. While the kitchen operates with much democracy, there is no
room for big egos or bosses. It has been said “there are no promotions or job raises at stake
here!” There will always be a designated cook in charge to guide those less experienced and
make final decisions when needed.
i. You must be able to tolerate communal living. Quarters are close and privacy is a rarity!
Some school locker rooms have private showers, but that is not always the case. Your choice
may be either a shower with others of your sex, or none at all! Most folks decide that
cleanliness is more important.
j. Remember, the drivers sleep during the day and work at night… they wake up to dinner
(yuk… lasagna for breakfast) and work throughout the night. The sack lunch you provide for
them is the only meal they get all “work day” and they love to eat at the end of the day
(usually before the corps breakfast) so… be tolerant of the “midnight raids” on the kitchen by
our drivers!
k. You must maintain a good sense of humor and be able to relate well to kids, staff, and drivers.
Fragile emotions do not work here…take a deep breath, smile and move on.
7. Merchandise Sales:
a. You may sign up to work Merchandise Sales but understand you will be asked to assist with
other duties, such as food service and sewing, on non-show days or pre-show; or you may be
assigned to work in “Souvie” Sales, giving you a nice diversion from your other assignments.
b. Because you represent the Blue Knights in the Market Place, you will need to wear a nice
shirt with Blue Knights branding. Good shoes are advised; sandals are not recommended for
safety reasons.
c. Team work, positive attitude, smiles and customer service are a must.
d. Some agility is required as you are climbing in and out of the trailer and on/off a stool to
reach items stored up high. Also, you will be on your feet much of the time.
e. Merchandise pretty much sells itself, but assistance is required--getting the correct size, color,
transfer to imprint (if applicable). Be patient as some people have trouble making instant
decisions. Busiest times are before performances begin, during intermission and after the last
performance while scores are tabulated--be prepared for a “rush”.
f. If you are traveling with the Corps, you will be taken to the Market Place and picked up after
the event. Hopefully you will be there in time to help setup and breakdown the displays.
Because there may be some downtime between setup and opening of the stadium for the
show, this is a good time to learn the merchandise if you are not yet familiar with everything.
You can take a book or magazine to fill in quiet moments if you wish.
8. Sewing Uniforms/Flags:
a. If you join the tour in this position, you will also be expected to share in other duties, such
as food service or merchandise sales.
b. Uniforms constantly need to be repaired and refitted/or taken in. Flags, too, need
repairing and you may be helping create new flags. Sewing is fairly simple, easily done
but the challenge may be in finding the best working space. Machines and all supplies
travel with the corps, including spare uniforms for new members joining the corps.
Making Travel Connections
Most volunteers coming and going from the tour opt to travel by air, which is at their expense. The tour
schedule is set fairly early but don’t make travel plans too firmly from a schedule noted “Tentative”. The
Tour Director needs to know your travel arrangements so someone can pick you up at the airport--provide
your mobile number and email. A ride back to the airport is also arranged. It may be necessary to wait for
pick up--catch up on a good book and don’t worry. At times, the arrangements for pick up and drop off
become creative, but no one has been left behind yet! Try not to arrive mid- to late afternoon on a show day
as this is a very difficult time for someone to break away for an airport run. Discuss and coordinate your
travel schedule with your corps contact person to arrange the best time to arrive on a particular day, the
distance from housing to airport, etc. This information must be very carefully coordinated for Finals week.
If for any reason you need to leave the tour prior to your scheduled departure, the Tour Director can help
arrange and assist you with your travel needs. Again, all costs are your responsibility. While happening
infrequently; family, medical or emotional needs could require that a volunteer leave.
What Is A Typical Tour Day?
11 PM: Leave show site. Cooks sleep on van seats. Kids and staff sleep in busses. We travel in a set
formation with the Tour Director in the lead. There are gas/restroom stops about every 2 hours. Some
people will get up for the stops but most learn to sleep through.
4-6 AM: Arrival at housing facility. Time varies according to miles traveling. Schedule for the day is set
by staff member in charge. Kids sleep on gym floors; drivers, staff and cooks to separate areas. Space is
usually limited in facilities so sleeping areas are most often designated by job description. This allows the
least interruption by someone whose hours don’t match yours! Depending on the time of arrival and
schedule for breakfast, cooks may not be able to lie down at this time. Morning shopping for perishables
is done by the cook person in charge or designee. In most cases there will be clean up from night before.
8 AM: Kids up, shower and breakfast. Some staff is up. Meals are varied…sometimes cold cereal and
sometimes a cooked breakfast.
9 AM: Kids stretch and begin rehearsal. Cooks clean up and begin prep for next meal.
10 AM: Cooks shower and clean up (these times may vary). Showers are in school locker rooms. Next
meal is under way. Other staff members begin to arise and come for coffee and breakfast. Kids will take
a break somewhere around 10:30 so fresh drinks are necessary.
11:30 AM, or other designated time by staff: Lunch.
12:30 PM: Cleanup and prep for next meal. Sometimes cooks can get a short nap. Drivers begin to get
up and their breakfast is prepared and served if possible.
2:30 PM: Kids break, fresh drinks are necessary. Continue prep for next meal, do as much preparation for
late eve meal as possible.
3:30 PM: Dinner, clean up trailer, yourself, load and pack. Food truck must be prepared to travel
requiring everything stowed away and tied down. (EPL=eat, pack, load).
5:00 PM: Leave for show. Enjoy the air conditioning and time to sit!
6:00 PM: Arrive at show. Cooks begin preparation for late evening meal.
7:00 PM: Show. Everyone tries to watch as much show as able. Passes are available to volunteer staff so
there is usually no charge to get in. Seats are not always the best in the house; however, you get to meet
volunteers from other corps whose seating is not any better than yours! There is always good
camaraderie and hearty cheering. (OTL=on the line).
9:00 PM: Cooks begin final prep for late meal and pack lunches for drivers.
10:00 PM: Show over. Serve and clean up of meal. Pack and load all vehicles. Clean up kitchen and
prepare food trailer for overnight travel. Water is limited at show sites so some cleanup may need to wait
until morning.
11:00 PM: Leave show site and start all over!
Variations to the above are quite common, including staying at one site for two or more days when there is
not a show. In extremely hot weather areas, rehearsal schedules can make a drastic change. Breakfast may
be at 4 or 5 in the morning with practice on the field until 10 AM, meal, sleep until 3 PM, meal, more
rehearsal or show until 10 PM, meal, bed, etc.
In other words, it is necessary to be very flexible. Changes and accommodations in scheduling and duties
are very common. Volunteers often are called upon to perform miracles, and somehow usually manage to
Care and welfare of the corps is of the highest priority and everyone has to do what is necessary in order to
accomplish that task. Each individual has an important job to perform and all tasks must be completed
timely and correctly. Respect your job and the jobs of others. Do not take the liberty of changing your
assignment or job description.
REMEMBER: The systems we operate under have been developed over years of touring. Although
the reasons certain things happen the way they do may not be readily apparent upon first glance, there
is a reason they are the way they are! Most everything has a reason, and the reason usually has to do with
efficiency. Example: “Why does the staff almost always eat first? How rude… shouldn’t the kids eat first?”
Answer: We all must eat… after rehearsal the members all have jobs to do… take down the scaffolding,
clean the field, etc. The staff comes to eat while they are performing these tasks to basically get out of the
way of the members eating. If they waited until after the members, then the cooks would be engaged serving
later, thereby shortening the amount of free time the cooks have to prepare for departure etc. Therefore…
it’s about efficiency.
There are some basic rules of protocol common to the drum corps activity as well as rules of conduct and
expectations for all on tour, including volunteers.
• This is a Drum Corps--not a band!
• Never interrupt practice or formation.
• Show preparation includes serious personal contemplation by members and staff. Please do not be
chatty and intrusive.
• Never be late. Schedules are extremely tight and being late could mean disqualification from a show
and loss of revenue to the corps.
• Do not walk through any corps standing or moving in formation.
• If driving, maintain your proper place in the convoy. If you are a visitor and are following to a show,
please remain behind all corps vehicles. You will need to park in areas designated for visitors.
Never drive into the middle of another corps’ convoy.
• Follow directions given to you by the Tour Director, Assistant Director and Staff. While there is
great cooperation among all disciplines, final decisions fall to those in these positions.
• Do not discipline. This is not in the volunteer job description. The corps has its own set level of
hierarchy flowing from the Tour Director and Assistant to the Staff, to Drum Major and Section
Leaders. All discipline is the responsibility of others. If you have an issue with anyone or anything,
discuss it with the Tour Director or Assistant.
• Do not make any rules. Remember that the corps has its own way of conduct that is and has been in
place prior to your arrival. If there is anything in question, go to the Tour Director or Assistant.
• Do not expect help from staff, members or bus and truck drivers. They all have their jobs to do in
time frames as tight as the volunteers. There is a wonderful spirit of cooperation in the corps, but
help should never be taken for granted or demanded.
• Staff passes are provided to all drum corps at the beginning of tour season. These passes allow
access to shows at no cost to staff and support staff. Volunteers will be assigned a pass by the Tour
Director or Assistant--there is a set number of passes available. While unlikely, it is possible there
might not be enough passes for all on occasion. The use of passes entitles volunteers to sit in
designated only areas of the stadium and these seats are typically outside of the 10-yard line. When
you go through the show gates you must find out what sections you may sit in. At no time are you
allowed to sit in seats designated for paying customers. If at any time you are asked to move to
another area, you must give up your seat without question and in the most courteous of manner. If
you wish to sit in an area other than outside the 10-yard line, you are expected to purchase your own
admission ticket to the show. You are not necessarily entitled to watch a complete show whether you
use a staff pass or purchase your own ticket. Your volunteer duty necessitates that you report as
needed to your area of responsibility, especially Merchandise Sales.
• Practice the Golden Rule. This should be automatic; however, everyone on tour becomes hot, tired,
dirty and grumpy somewhere along the way. As in your own home, the one in the kitchen most often
sets the tone. If members, staff and volunteers come into the Food Service area tired and crabby and
meet an equally crabby and tired volunteer, before long the whole corps is in a war zone. If you can
just maintain a smile and a little goodwill--wow--what a difference. Feel the power!
• Respect--drum corps is unique in that it is a level playing field for everyone. Each person involved in
the activity must earn the respect of his/her fellow members. The finely tuned drum corps machine
will break if even the smallest cog is out of place. Therefore, reliance and trust in each other has
become the way of drum corps. “Paying your dues” is also the way of drum corps. Upon your
arrival you will not be gushed over by anyone other than fellow volunteers. Don’t worry--give it a
day or two. Everyone is glad to see additional help, but you must prove that you intend to stick
around and become part of things! If you are reliable, hardworking and respectful to all, you will in
turn receive the same.
Remember--whatever your circumstance or surroundings, you are representing the Blue
Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Your words and actions reflect upon the Blue Knights as a
whole. You are expected at all times to conduct yourself in a courteous manner.
What Do I Need To Bring?
□ Sleeping bag & bedding.
□ Suitcase / duffle with wheels (comes in handy as you are responsible for your own bags).
□ Air mattress & pump is highly recommended! A battery operated pump is best and most dependable.
Some housing sites have limited electrical outlets where you want them!
□ Pillow and blanket to use in the van.
□ Alarm clock: Battery-operated (pack backup batteries) or the wind-up kind.
□ Mobile device charger – consider power strip to accommodate multiple devices.
□ Underwear, socks, shorts, pants & shirts* (keep your better items reserved for shows). Tour is not
known to be kind to clothes! Aprons are provided for kitchen workers. Jacket or hoodie, rain
□ Plastic bag for dirty/wet laundry.
□ We ask you help promote the Blue Knights and wear a BK shirt at performances. It is not
required…but it sure looks great and the kids can spot you from the field!
□ Pajamas/sleep clothes--there is a major lack of privacy, so keep this in mind when choosing your
attire! A suggestion from one volunteer is to change to what you will wear the next day and use that
to sleep in.
□ Good shoes are a must! Do not skimp on the quality of athletic shoes & make sure they are broken
in before starting out. Sandals are a nice change but for safety reasons should NOT be worn in the
□ Shower shoes--very important item as you will most likely be showering in locker rooms.
□ Towels--2 usually work. Shower puffs are better than washcloths.
□ Personal care items. Hanging toiletry bags work well. A good item is some type of baby wipe.
Shampoo, body wash in bottle (better than bar soap), hand lotion, sunscreen. Sunglasses & hat also
come in handy.
□ Medications--if you occasionally get some particular ailment, check with your doctor. Usually a
physician will provide medication to take along “just in case”. Visits to health clinics and pharmacies
are necessary on occasion, but it is far easier to be prepared. Yeast and bladder infections seem to be
the culprit for females. If you are prone--be advised and be prepared!
□ Backpack--this is ideal for overnight van travel (consider packing - flashlight, cell phone, ear plugs,
sleep mask/eye covers, toothbrush/paste, personal supply ibuprofen/acetaminophen).
□ Book / reading material-- A personal music player also contributes greatly to the “illusion” of
□ Money-- You may spend as little or as much as you want. All show sites have a Market Place of
souvenir booths plus food concessions and night stops allow many people to buy snacks and goodies.
Meals from cook truck, travel, & lodging included in tour.
□ Wide mouth water bottle for your own water supply (hint: wide mouth makes it easy to fill with ice).
□ Your own health insurance and emergency information needs to accompany you.
□ Do not borrow or take possessions of others without their permission.
□ Sense of humor--if you never take yourself or anyone else too seriously, tour is so much more
enjoyable. Nothing can beat a smiling face and a cooperative spirit.
What Do I Get Out Of This?
Hopefully, this description of typical tour duties and living gives you the basic information to make your
Although the work is hard, the reality is there are few times in your life when you can make such a
difference. For the cooks - there is the knowledge that a well-fed army is the strongest in battle. For the
drivers - lives and families are dependent on your skills and careful hours behind the wheel. The many
miscellaneous duties done by volunteers allow staff to do what they do best--teach. The Tour Director can
go about the business of housing, travel, arranging show logistics, etc. if others pick up the slack.
Your comrades on tour become your closest and dearest friends. These are friendships born by sharing of
yourself, your space, your shower, your towel, your hopes, dreams, jokes and a bite of your candy bar late at
night while traveling through some unknown state (usually you don’t know and could care less)!
Learning to know many talented and dedicated young adults is the highlight. You will have the chance to
interact with more kids than you ever dreamed of. You will cheer with them in their triumphs and feel the
agony of their defeats. You will bandage hearts and souls and yes, toes and soles. You may, on occasion, be
asked for your opinion. By example, you will help teach some of the finer things in life--such as how to
maintain grace and dignity under fire, how to bite your tongue, how to revel in a meal ready 10 minutes
early, how to carry twice your load, how to crack a joke at two in the morning while standing in a bathroom
line a mile long, how to give your friend your pillow because they forgot theirs and you think they are more
tired than you.
Very few people ever forget--or would want to forget--their experience on tour. It is a challenge of mind
over body. When your mind wins, you will understand what drives your offspring to this incredible level of
performance and competition. As hard as you are working, your child is working harder. Also, as a parent,
you will gain a new level of respect for the kids that successfully endure the rigors of Drum Corps life.
Please seriously consider giving of yourself this summer. The Blue Knights thank you for whatever support
you can give. If you have any questions, you may speak to any booster volunteer or request information in
writing or by phone to:
Keith Huffman, Volunteer Coordinator
Email: [email protected]
(Cell) 303-250-3692