Three Phases of a Drum Corps Summer

By Karl Koemmpel and Nathan Pratt, Box 7 Staff

Imagine if you showed up for a summer of drum corps after just throwing a few things into a duffel bag, playing or spinning a few times a month, and maybe going for a run last week. If you aren’t properly prepared, you’re going to have a bad time!

The same is true of your spiritual life, especially as we are getting ready for the intense lifestyle of drum corps. We want you to be prepared for the challenges you’ll face over the next three months, helping you develop healthy rhythms in your walk with Christ and life with others in three different phases: spring training (Everydays), the first half of tour (Early Tour), and the second half of tour (Late Tour).



The first phase of the summer tends to involve physical challenges. You’ll be marching, playing, moving equipment, and working hard for multiple hours, day after day. It can be easy to center your life entirely on drum corps, feeling isolated from God and others. This is a time to be disciplined, taking advantage of your consistent schedule and location—especially since you won’t enjoy that consistency once tour begins. Focus on establishing community with other believers at your corps, investing in friendships as you spend time encouraging one another, praying for one another, and growing together.

Early Tour

The second phase of the summer tends to involve mental challenges. Suddenly, your schedule, location, and responsibilities will change every day. Your fellow corps members may tend to become discouraged, frustrated, or unmotivated when the excitement of new experiences wears off—and it is often when members in the corps start to wear on each other. Buses break down, rain ruins rehearsal, the show gets tweaked, and through it all you’ll need to be flexible. Among the community of Christians at your corps, focus on establishing communication. Since your schedule is now different every day, the way you communicate will need to shift once tour begins. Be intentional about your decisions regarding where you sit on the bus, who you share meals with, and how you use social media to connect with each other in person.

Late Tour

The third phase of the summer tends to involve emotional challenges. The realization that all things come to an end will start to become prevalent when there are only a few weeks left before the end of tour. Emotional tensions that have been simmering for weeks can boil over as competition grows increasingly intense. Also, reflecting on the experience of the summer can cause drum corps members to divert their thoughts away from the present, either dwelling on past moments from the summer or anticipating the future after tour is over. Don’t forget to be present with the people around you, cherishing the moments you have together in person. At the same time, focus on establishing continuity as you are about to return to life outside DCI. Plan with other Christians how you will remain connected with one another after the summer and how you will continue your growth in Christ as part of a church community and a college ministry or youth group.

This chart is a summary of the above: how you can spiritually approach different parts of your drum corps summer.



Ministry Focus



Be Disciplined

Establish Community

Early Tour


Be Flexible

Establish Communication

Late Tour


Be Present

Establish Continuity

How Box 7 Can Help

As we experience each of these three phases together, our hope is that we will grow in Christ, without being held back by the physical, mental, and emotional challenges we face. Moreover, we believe the promise of Jesus, “I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” (John 10:10 CEB). We want your summer in DCI to be lived to the fullest in Christ, and we hope that the relationships and resources of Box 7 can help.

Box 7 WORD devotionals can help people be disciplined in their time in prayer and Bible study, since they are designed for life in drum corps. Using Facebook group message threads can help people stay in communication more efficiently than using individual text messages (and they’ll keep you from accidentally posting in the wrong GroupMe!). Box 7 Meetups after drum corps shows allow people from different corps to meet each other, share about what God is doing, and encourage one another in faith.

At the end of the summer, we want those who have shared this summer in DCI to make a healthy transition back into their regular life, helping each other process the summer and encourage one another to pursue Jesus in community with others, both in a church with believers of all ages and in a small group with people your own age (church small group, campus ministry or youth group).  Let the Box 7 leadership and staff know if we can help you with this transition home!