The sounds of summer are giving way to the sounds of fall as camps for both Grove City and Central Crossing's high school marching bands are being held this week.

"It's a good time for our students to get away and come together as a group," said Jason Graham, Grove City's band director.

Keith Hallas, Central Crossing's band director, echoed that sentiment, saying "The camaraderie aspect is probably as important as working on the music," in terms of camp.

Central Crossing's camp was scheduled for Aug. 6-10 at the Fort Hill Christian Youth Camp near Hillsboro.

Grove City band members are spending the week at Skyview Ranch in Millersburg.

Band camp allows students to concentrate on the band without the distractions of home, Graham said.

"It's a pretty intensive week," he said. "We have more time to work with the students, so we're probably getting as much accomplished in that one week of camp as we would in nine or 10 weeks during the school year."

Hallas said Central Crossing's band camp features three components.

"We like to get started early with practicing so we can get a lot of work in before it starts getting too hot," Hallas said.

During the afternoon, students participate in a fun activity, whether it's trying out Fort Hill's zip line or swimming in the pool.

"Later in the evening, we'll schedule another group activity and also take some time to sit down and talk about teamwork and how we can improve as a band," Hallas said.

This year, about 190 students are marching in Central Crossing's band, he said.

Grove City High School's band has more than 260 students, an increase of about 25 over last school year.

"It's awesome to see so many students participating in our band program," Graham said. "It's even more exciting to think about the future.

"This year, we'll have about 130 eighth-grade students in band at our middle schools (in the GCHS boundary area) and that bodes well for next year for our band. We could have close to 300 students next year in the high school band," he said.

Both bands held pre-camp at their schools the week before the regular camp.

"Pre-camp gives our students a chance to reacclimate and reinforce the basics of marching band before we jump fully into learning the music," Graham said. "It's like a sports team holding some basic drills before they start learning the plays."

Central Crossing held a "pre-pre-camp" this summer, Hallas said.

"We wanted to have an extra week of preparation because we participated in the Harrisburg parade on July 29," he said.

Central Crossing's halftime show this year is "Under the Starry Night."

"It uses the Van Gogh painting 'Starry Night' as kind of a theme," Hallas said. "The whole idea is the concept of someone looking up at the night sky, at the stars and the vastness with a sense of wonder."

Among the songs included in the show are "Tonight Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins and "Stars" from the "Les Miserables" musical.

The show will incorporate lights and props that allow the band's formation to suggest the wonder of the night sky to audiences, Hallas said.

Grove City's show, "Coming Full Circle," features a theme of "coming back to our roots," Graham said.

"Last year we had the honor of participating in the Tournament of Roses Parade. This year, we'll be coming back to a more normal year of concentrating on performing at our football games and at competitions," Graham said.

The program includes "American Salute" by Morton Gould, "Bring Him Home," from "Les Miserables" and "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copland.

A highlight of Grove City's season will be competing in the Ohio State University Buckeye Invitational Oct. 21 in Ohio Stadium.

Central Crossing will compete in November at the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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