Part 1: On the road again– Can you go home?

by David Endicott, DCW staff

This article was originally published in the April 2006 edition of Drum Corps World (Volume 35, Number 1), mailed to subscribers on March 16.

All across the country — and in Canada, too — thousands of young men and women are now working in weekend rehearsal camps to develop on-field marching programs. The programs will culminate during the week of August 8-12 at the University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium with the Drum Corps International World Championships.

Starting in May and continuing in June and July, these “junior” drum and bugle corps members will travel by bus to compete in contests at scores of cities and to hone their shows to near perfection. For the past 68 years, one of the most prominent of them has been the Madison Scouts, founded by Madison business leaders in 1938.

In an unusual reversal of the traveling trend, more than 200 alumni of the Madison Scouts convened in Madison on the weekend of February 24-26 to begin working on a special show they will exhibit for the DCI Semifinals at Camp Randall on the evening of August 11.

Called the “Madison Scouts Alumni Reunion Project”, the program will be performed by Scouts alumni who are as young as 23 to one original Scout who marched with the first corps in 1938 and is now 80 years of age.   The average age of the participants is 42, according to Randy Ferrie (soprano bugle in the class of 1978), the reunion project’s director, and they come from all over the Madison area, the upper Midwest and from as far away as Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Texas, California and Washington state.

On the road again: Scouts Alumni Project No. 1

This reporter (contra bass, class of 1966) is one of those Scouts alumni and I will be filing stories about the project experience from now through the DCI Championships in mid-August in both the Capital Times, Madison’s evening daily newspaper, and Drum Corps World.

Why participate in this reunion project?   There are many motivations. Common among them are the pure thrill of participating “just one more time” in an activity that will achieve excellence, as well as the fact that, like the Marines, there’s no such thing as “an ex-Madison Scout.” Once a Scout, always a Scout.

The reunion project will include four full weekend rehearsal camps in the Madison area in February, April, June and July, as well as rehearsals on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of DCI week in August. Nearly 230 Scouts alumni have paid their project dues and are now working to recapture their musical and showmanship capabilities.

Together, they have 709 years of marching experience with the Madison Scouts and more than a millennium of experience that includes other corps they marched with or taught.

The project is not without its risks, according to horn instructor John Georgeson (baritone, 1974), who is also the high school music teacher in Verona, WI, a suburb of Madison.

“They say you can’t go home,” Georgeson told Scout alumni during the February camp at Peter Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie. “We’re going to find out if that’s true. The risk is that, if we don’t do this project well, we may replace a very good Scout memory that each alumnus has with a not-so-good memory. This is a risk that we don’t take lightly.”

So, the project begins to take shape. Madison Scouts alumni are on the road again to convene from month to month in Madison for the 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.

Readers who want to see the results can attend the DCI Championship performances at Camp Randall in August (go to for ticket information).

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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 in 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