Connections: 2006 Madison Scouts Alumni Reunion Corps project

by David Endicott, DCW staff

Publisher’s note: This article appears, along with 20 selected photographs, in the August 31, 2006 post-DCI edition of Drum Corps World that was mailed to subscribers on Tuesday, August 29. The 32-page issue has full coverage of DCI week and a photograph of every corps that competed in Camp Randall Stadium during the week. There is also a selection of senior corps show reports and, of course, complete recaps (five pages worth). To subscribe, click on the “Subscription” box on the front page of this Web site.

Lesson: It’s important for each of us to understand that we stand on the shoulders of others who have gone before us, and who struggled to create the personal and institutional foundations on which we build today.

One of the facts of life is that, sometimes, some people are just more equal than others. For many of us in the Madison Scouts Alumni Reunion Corps, that’s the way it is with the young men, our successors, of the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps. Sure, our families and all those wonderful local and national fans attending the Drum Corps International Championships in Madison were important, too. But there’s a very special feeling we have for the guys in the Madison Corps. We wanted to impress them. More importantly, we wanted to connect with them, as brothers. Perhaps the greatest result of our efforts during the past 10 months is that we did connect with them. Our families are the larger for it.

As background, the Madison Scouts is the junior drum and bugle corps for 16- to 21-year-olds that was created in 1938. Last year, Scouts alumnus Randy Ferrie convinced the Madison Drum & Bugle Corps Association, Inc. board of directors that a special, one-time corps of alumni of the Madison Scouts would be a worthy, successful venture. Thus was born the Madison Scouts Alumni Corps, whose initial purpose was to develop and produce an on-field show at the DCI Semifinals at Camp Randall Stadium in August. More than 240 Scouts alumni responded and have been attending monthly weekend rehearsal camps in Madison since February.

Most of us Scouts alumni decided to take part in the project for personal fulfillment reasons: we wanted to relive the glory days of our Madison Scouts past. And we wanted to do something we’d already shown we were good at doing. “Success” is a pied piper. Largely unsaid, even as we progressed through the first monthly weekend rehearsals, was that we also wanted to get to know today’s Madison Scouts: the boys of the championship performance field we once had been ourselves. The problem was that they were just as busy rehearsing as we were. This goal would have to wait.

Another problem was pointed out to us early in the process by horn instructor John Georgeson.   There was a risk in our zeal to relive our glory days. The risk was that, if we didn’t do this project well, we could replace a great performance memory with a less-than-satisfactory performance memory. In other words, we’d better do this reunion project very well, and we’d need to work very hard to do it.

If you, dear reader, have been following the previous monthly reports of this project, you already know that we did work very hard to achieve our goals. (If you’ve not seen them, the previous reports may be read online at, by clicking on The Capital Times, News and then Madison Scouts Reunion.) But a surprise, a very agreeable surprise, awaited us.

Following weekend rehearsal camps in February, April, June and July, the 240-member Madison Scouts Alumni Corps arrived at its early August rehearsal camp leading up to our two final, important performances. The grand goal was the Friday night performance at DCI Semifinals on August 10. But during the preceding months, word had spread that the alumni project was turning out pretty well. So a special performance had been scheduled for Wednesday evening for the Madison Scouts family and friends, including all those who work behind the scenes to sell the souvenirs, check the tickets, drive the buses and vans, and do the countless other tasks that make such a sophisticated non-profit youth operation possible. Among them would be today’s Madison Scouts. Our time for connecting had come.

What we did not know until the last moment was that the boys of the corps had heard a lot about the alumni corps. They had heard that the music featured many of the Madison Scouts’ standards, including Ballet in Brass, Rhapsody in Blue, Ice Castles, Malagueña and other favorites. They’d heard about our 115-member horn line, nearly as large itself as their entire field corps. They’d heard about our fabulous drum line and color guard. And we heard that they were excited to see and hear us, and would be in the stands that night. Once we knew that, it would have been a mistake for you to stand between the alumni corps and the Wednesday night starting line.

That night, the Scouts Alumni Corps watched from the stands as the Madison Scouts performed.   And then we exchanged places with them, and they got their first view of “the old guys.”   The result was magical.

At a couple of points during our show, I noticed the young men of the Madison Scouts cheering us on. They were genuinely enthused and impressed. At the end of our show, the Madison Scouts and all Scouts alumni not already on the field were invited to the floor of Mansfield Stadium to sing together our theme song, You’ll Never Walk Alone. It would have been a terrific experience anyway, but was made all the better because I was able to do it once again, arm-in-arm and 40 years later, with my Scout buddies from long ago, Boo Kelly and Jimmy Veloff.

And so, Boo, Jimmy and I connected once again as Scouts. And seven decades of Scouts alumni connected on the performance field with today’s Madison Scouts. It was all any of us could have hoped for — and much more.

As we’ve worked through the months of rehearsal camps, we might be reminded by champion skater Michelle Kwan that “. . . it’s not all about the gold. It’s the journey, completely the journey. It’s being inspired, motivated, believing in yourself . . . You have to live in the moment.”   The Madison Scouts Alumni Corps members have lived in the moment, once again.   We’ve enjoyed the journey, once again. This time, with our brothers of the Madison Scouts.

On our last day together, horn instructor extraordinaire John Georgeson told us that life can have great achievements, as well as too great an assortment of disappointments. In his recent book, “The Power of Intention,” Dr. Wayne Dyer quotes Michelangelo as saying that, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

Connections help. And you have at least half the role in making any connection.

So, the project is finished. Madison Scouts alumni were on the road again and conducted their final rehearsal camp in Madison in the three days leading up to their August 11 performance at DCI in Camp Randall Stadium.   The Scouts Alumni Corps has been convening from month to month in Madison to experience — for perhaps one last time — the performance excellence that has earned the Scouts the reputation as one of the best drum and bugle corps organizations in the history of this dynamic youth activity.

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David Endicott is a native of Viroqua, WI, and marched with the Madison Scouts as a contra bass player in 1966.   Since his days with the Scouts, he has worked at the University of Washington, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the United States Senate and for several Seattle area consulting firms. He can be reached at
This five-part series of articles has been published in Drum Corps World and in edited form in the Capital Times, the Madison, WI, evening daily newspaper over the past six months.