ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - In the blazing sun Thursday, students perfected their march, polished their music and tested their endurance in Millbrook for an upcoming show. This wasn't a high school marching band getting ready for a new season, but the Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps.
Kayla McGuff is hitting on all the right notes in the Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps, but the rookie from Jacksonville State University admitted this musical boot camp is tough.
"This is the hardest thing I've done in my life," said McGuff.
More than 120 people, like McGuff, from 13 states spent the day at Stanhope-Elmore High School getting their steps in order and getting a drenching test of endurance on what it means to get it right when it comes to rhythm, look and the posture. All part of that goal of reaching their potential and growing away from home.
"The show is only 11 minutes long but they practice for thousands of hours before then learning self-reliance," said Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps Director Lawrence LeClaire.
Several students at Lee High School in Montgomery started the Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps in 1980. After a few years of being on-and-off, the corps is up and running again. It's now based in Mobile and not everyone makes it through the season which goes from mid-June through August.
"I tell them this will be the hardest thing they'll ever do, except go to war. We sometimes have around 10 or so leave in between camps," LeClaire said.
Anthony Lane of Vicksburg, Mississippi, is in his second year on the drum line.
"We stay wherever we can. Gym floors, churches, anywhere," said Lane.
It is hot. The bugs are biting and the fire ants are showing no mercy, yet these young people wouldn't have it any other way.
"They'll eat off paper plates for six weeks. They don't care; can't get enough of it. They love it," said LeClaire.
It's five days before show time in Valdosta, Georgia, next week. The corps will wrap up practice Thursday at 10 p.m. and start all over again Friday.
LeClaire said there are around 45 similar drum and bugle corps in the country. The Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps competes in around 17 shows a year.