Greetings Alumni,

As we surpass one month after the season's conclusion, I'd like to provide you with a few reflections on the season.

'Our mission is to provide programs for youth in music and performance training through a positive environment that emphasizes character and social development, leadership, self-discipline, and the pursuit of excellence.'

Chris and I regularly discuss the corps' history, and we often spend the most time considering the work of C.H. Beebe. What led him to get involved in the BSA as a Scoutmaster and eventually the drum corps? What values were demonstrated by the corps and his leadership at that time? What cultural and values-based through-lines connect the 2023 edition to the 1938 corps?

Well...as much as 'things' (a 6,000-mile national tour, a corps representing 27 states and multiple countries, Bb brass) have changed, it doesn't take much investigation to determine that many of the values C.H. Beebe instilled in his young men embedded their way into our organizational DNA. Here are a few that stand out to me:

Corps Director David Lofy

Service and Care for Community - 'Leave it better than you found it'

To my knowledge, this phrase and its lesson have roots that go far back. I recall hearing it after my first camp in 2012. Dann Petersen and my section leaders recited it as if it were second nature, and it was. Like many lessons I've taken from my time in the Madison Scouts, the breadth of this phrase didn't sink in until about a year later...of course, I still find myself discovering its implications as I move into my 30s. "Leave it better than you found it..." Ahh, this isn't just about cleaning toilets and sweeping turf turds off the gym floor.

We pride ourselves in being an organization that takes world-class care of...facilities, people, communities we interact with, fans, staff, and ultimately the world. Are we truly equipping young people with the tools to be successful contributors to society and their community when they leave the corps? This is one of the key questions we ask ourselves. I'm not saying we should be programming robots who say and do as they're told. We work hard to help Madison Scouts 'find themselves' and live out their uniqueness in an activity that often demands conformity. That said, I suppose that's where the nuance exists in drum corps...individual growth and life-long autonomy via group commitment and sacrifice.

This appears to be one of our 'Day 1' values -- sacrifice of self for the benefit of the greater good.

Where do I see this in action in 2023?

I saw it in Andrew Irving, an alumnus who has graciously donated his time and energy to run our online merchandise operation and do the full tour with the drum corps since 2008 (thanks Mike Ausman!).

I saw it in rookie snare drummer Logan Herren as he chased down the napkin caught in the breeze and flew away from the food line. (As you all know, it takes at least three attempts at bending down to grab it, as the wind always seems to catch it when your fingers brush it...)

I saw it in drum major Lex Monteiro as he practiced conducting for hours behind the Whitewater concrete stands.

I saw it in color guard age-outs Kellen Beaty (4 years) and Hope Fowler (3 years), who spent many nights taping and repairing equipment late.

I saw it in Assistant Director Tina Jameson as she completed her tenth season with the Madison Scouts, seven of which were leading the food operation.

I saw it in a drum corps that fought night after night to provide the audience with a performance that was not only entertaining but moving.

A director can only hope that after teaching this lesson in the social experiment that is drum corps, it will translate into action in the everyday lives of those who were involved with the organization.

Excellence - 'Welcome to September. What was good enough in August is no longer acceptable'

This is another phrase I regularly heard Dann recite. As a young performer, I heard that and thought that the month was some significant marker in time that required an upgrade in energy and that "Today is the day I have to get a lot better and finally be great." I only wish I had realized sooner that the month/date/time isn't what matters in this message. It's really about demanding constant growth from oneself and so much more...

I see greatness as a product of consistent focus and energy into only that I control. To borrow another phrase, one doesn't simply "flip the switch" on excellence and call it a day. It's a serious commitment from every individual involved in a project. It's a true behavior, a culture bred by high-level group and self-awareness, critique, collaboration, accountability, care, measured and deliberate adaptation, sacrifice, patience in balance with risk-taking, etc...We ask ourselves, "Are we truly fostering a culture of excellence that doesn't give the Madison Scouts any choice but to thrive?"

As I observed the organization throughout 2023, I noted the successes and opportunities for growth regarding excellence. Some required immediate day-to-day upgrading, and others required long-term commitment to our plan, values, and culture. There is no doubt that we have room to grow in this area. Make no mistake; I'm not referencing the number on the recap. I'm referencing our day-to-day organizational behaviors that foster excellence in its highest form in our activity.

The Madison Scouts achieve excellence in many ways; we always have. We'll press forward celebrating the organization's many successes while demanding growth from all involved.

no break for meIan Williams setting a standard by example
I'm including a picture of Madison Scouts of the Year, Ian Williams (snare drum, 22-23). During the Allentown rehearsal, the corps was on one of their one-minute water breaks. Ian decided this was a moment to push the corps to new levels. He ran back to his drum and stood at attention to set the tone for what the rest of rehearsal would be like -- this was a regular occurrence. This is a picture of him in that moment.

Community Building - 'You'll Never Walk Alone'

Each year, we collect feedback from the membership informally (via conversation) and formally via a survey. Of the items they celebrate, it is extremely common to see commentary about how connected they felt to each other throughout the experience. Drum corps member culture has historically gone one of two ways: 1) a power-driven vet/rookie hierarchy that forces everyone to cooperate, or 2) a collaborative, high-performing working relationship between all involved. I suppose both methods can produce a similar result, but which is a more realistic (and humane) experience that prepares a young person for their work beyond the activity?

Option two is complicated and requires cultural massaging, but we believe it to be right. -- I didn't intend to discuss member care here, but I'll take the opportunity...I'm incredibly proud of how well the organization and its staff demonstrate professional care and respect for its membership. If you haven't seen this, please consider spending time in the food truck or souvies. This is one area where I'm confident we're leading the way in our activity.

Ultimately, Madison Scouts members leave the program transformed by their performance experience and the life-long relationships they've developed. They learn to show kindness and care and demonstrate love through accountability...They grow not only to accept and love the people they march with but themselves (a lifelong journey, I know). These young people will be magnificent partners, employees, community members, and world changers if they continue committing to the values the corps taught them.

Conclusion

I'll share one quote from the end-of-season member surveys that I believe well represents the successes of the corps:

"These past two years have been the best experience of my life thus far. Finding time, especially for a world-class drum corps, is difficult as an engineer, but I knew I needed it. The joy, grit, sleep scheduling, and connection will help me much more. I can apply this to all of my projects...even though I am a broke college student, I will find a way to give back. Some way, somewhere, sometime. I cannot thank you enough. I hope to change the world; you were the catalyst I needed. I love this activity, and I love the Madison Scouts. Thank you for an amazing, awesome experience."

Let us celebrate together the success of the 2023 season and press on to a stronger future in 2024.

May You Never Walk Alone,
David Lofy

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Future Events

21 Apr
MSAA Monthly Meeting
Date Apr 21, 2024 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

These meetings are open to all alumni of the Madison Scouts. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to receive a Zoom invitation to attend any meeting. We welcome all alumni to join us. Times listed are in Central Time.

27 Apr
Rockin' For A Cure
Apr 27, 2024 6:30 PM - 10:30 PM

MSARP All-Stars Alumni Brass Ensemble perform and group singing of You’ll Never Walk Alone. 

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