Seventy-five high-schoolers stood in formation on the lawn, instruments held high. A woman called out directions from atop a ladder, and they marched together across the field.
A Havre High School junior, Alix Seigel, sat on the grass nearby.
"This is my first year in color guard," Seigel said as she watched the flag team dance in front of the band.
"It's a lot of fun; really hard, though. We're dancing, but we do it with flags, so we're tossing the flags, spinning the flags, perfectly in time with the music."
As she said it, the flags leading the band began to whirl, just as Seigel described. The flags are huge, and the wind pulled at the bright yellow fabric as the color guard maneuvered them.
"They hurt when they hit you," Seigel said, "So you have to be very careful."
Color guard had been practicing long before band camp to perfect this, though. The training "keeps you in shape, but it's not too difficult," Seigel said as practice broke up for lunch.
The band will play in Havre's Festival Days Parade and homecoming, and members are preparing for their first football game in Miles City.
It will be freshman Oriah Pratt's first time playing in a game, but she's seen plenty of performances.
"When I go to football games," Pratt said, in line for lunch, "I go to watch the band."
And this year, band director David Johnke said, "the crowd will be in for a treat." He's proud of how the band sounds already and is "so far, really impressed with the freshmen." If things go as well during the school year as they have at band camp, the band might be invited to play at Bozeman High School, or to march at a Montana State University-Northern game.
The band, he said, "can tighten everything up (at camp) and end on a good note" this summer; it's the first summer they've been able to add a fourth day to camp, thanks to some smart business. The band re-hired last year's instructors, who have all marched in nationally competitive drum and bugle corps and provide a cost-savings to hiring a company. Although the student fee of $40 only covers a third of the camp's cost, the band receives support from the Natalie Patrick Foundation, the Optimist's Club and student fundraisers, such as the Gary & Leo's Fresh Foods car wash.
Johnke feels "extremely positive this year. It's the best vibe I've ever gotten from a band. They seem genuinely excited," he said. And they have good reason to be. The band has a Motown-themed show this year, and will play songs like the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and the Motown hit, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."
Tamra Blatter, who volunteered to help at camp this year, stayed in band for three years because, she said, "I love classical band music. I'm probably gonna start playing in the college pep band."
Blatter graduated this year, and said she's glad she joined band as a freshman. "It helped. All my friends when I was a freshman were seniors, so I wasn't picked on at all," Blatter said, laughing.
Johnke agreed. "The camp is wonderful, especially for freshmen. Right away they have a senior (mentor)."
"It's just like a big family," Blatter said. And like all good relatives, she came back to visit and help set out the food at camp. "It's nice to talk to all my band friends again."