Photo caption: Each day for several weeks the Madison Scouts rehearse in section groups across campus at UW-Eau Claire, with full ensemble rehearsals in the evenings on Towers Field on upper campus. (Photo by Bill Hoepner)
For the second consecutive summer, the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps is training and rehearsing for its upcoming season at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
While last year’s competition season was abbreviated due to COVID-19, the Madison Scouts’ 2022 season is back to a full 72-day calendar, a rigorous schedule that the organization is preparing for at UW-Eau Claire.
“Last year worked out really well for us here and we are so pleased to be able to come back to UWEC,” says David Lofy, program director for the Madison Scouts. “The group loves it here and they’re taking advantage of every opportunity to explore campus and areas of downtown.”
The public is invited to attend two Madison Scouts performances in Eau Claire this summer:
- Dress rehearsal: 7 p.m. Saturday, June 25, Carson Park. No cost, donations accepted, gates open 6 p.m. Two full run-throughs of the show.
- "Drums on the Chippewa": 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, Carson Park. Tickets range from $20-$40, available here. Multiple drum and bugle corps performing.
Founded in 1920, the Madison Scouts are the longest-running youth music and performance organization in the state, with more than 10,000 alumni worldwide. This year’s class of 156 consists of young musicians, ages 16-22, from 27 states. Due to COVID-19, there are no international members of the corps this year.
Blugold staff in Housing and Residence Life are grateful to host a more “normal” summer schedule of camps and conferences this year, and the Madison Scouts will provide bonus entertainment with its visit.
“It’s great to have the Madison Scouts and other conferences on our campus this summer,” says Deborah Newman, associate director of Housing and Residence Life. “The Scouts have been a great group to work with and their music is filled with energy and enthusiasm. We’re very pleased they chose our campus, and we enjoy providing for their needs as they prepare for performance success.”
According to Lofy, a 2017 UW-Eau Claire music education graduate who also was a member of the Blugold Marching Band, returning to campus this year made the start of the training season smooth, since many people already were familiar with campus. A few tweaks were made to the daily schedule, but otherwise their planning remained the same, he says.
“They spend nine to 10 hours a day learning the program and rehearsing,” Lofy says of members of the Madison Scouts. “We did, however, increase their free time a bit this year, giving them a little more down time for recovery. It’s a tough schedule.”
Liam Casey, a junior music education major from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who plays the baritone for the Madison Scouts and the Blugold Marching Band, likes the UW-Eau Claire location. Casey says the accommodations in the residence halls are “so much better” than what they typically see on the competition tour, and the chance to eat in the Hilltop cafeteria is a wonderful “throwback to freshman year.”
While there are obvious similarities between the Madison Scouts and BMB, Casey says he approaches the two experiences very differently.
“In both cases, the shared goal is giving a great performance to the audience, but the style and mindset required are totally different when the element of competition is added to the Scouts,” Casey says. “BMB can be more relaxed, but both require a lot of work. I’ve made amazing friends and memories in each.”
Leyira Gininwa, a senior Latin American studies major and a drum major for both BMB and the Scouts, has come to feel that both groups are like family, and having the Scouts in residence at UW-Eau Claire is a true gift.
"I'm so grateful for this experience," says the Mounds View, Minnesota, native. "It's like I'm truly home with my Scouts family; the whole thing feels more immersive. The vibes are consistently high."
See the video below for a peek at “a day in the life” of the Madison Scouts, footage gathered in the summer of 2021, its first year at UW-Eau Claire.
In August, Lofy, featured in the video, will begin serving as the assistant director of bands at UW-Eau Claire.
“I will be working with the BMB as well as the Varsity Band and the band for basketball games. I’ll also teach a section of concert band,” says Lofy, who completed a master’s degree in music education after graduating from UW-Eau Claire.
Since his role with Madison Scouts is primarily a summer position, Lofy can continue as program director. He hopes the organization can maintain its current relationship with UW-Eau Claire.