When my 16-year old mentioned that he was interested in participating in drum corps, I wasn’t totally surprised because we had been following DCI corps since he was about 8 years old. But, as parents we were a little concerned because there where no corps within a reasonable distance of our home, until he mentioned the Raiders.
Having been a DCI fan for years, I thought I knew about all of the corps in the area, but I had never heard of the Raiders. So, we decided to register him and attended a winter camp to learn more. He was immediately very interested in pursuing his drum corps experience. As the camps progressed into the spring, his interest in participating continued to grow, so we continued to bring him to each successive camp. When he was offered a contract to become a member, we can't recall a happier moment in his life!
As parents, we still had some concerns about how things would be for him once the tours began. Would he be able to keep up physically? Would he fit in? Would his desire to participate wane? Our questions and concerns were answered at the end of the “mini-tour” when we met the corps for their first competition. It was obvious that he had settled in was now part of the Raiders family which is a bit difficult to explain. The camaraderie that Raiders members feel is noticeable when you see them interact in practice, at meals, even before a show. In fact, there is a lot of sadness when the mini-tour ends, even knowing that the “full tour” is yet to come later in the summer.
Overall, we are not sure that any other activity could provide the experience that he has received from being a member of Raiders. The physical benefits of marching in competitive drum corps may be visibly apparent, but just as important is the self-motivation and responsibility of being part of a family/team that all have the same goal. There was no question about whether he would go back and audition for his second year when fall rolled around again. Raiders has provided a fantastic learning environment for him and all of his “family members”.