Guard Room Organization and Inventory

| November 2, 2011 | 9 Comments

When my husband was hired as head band director of a school in Tennessee, I was so excited for him, but even more excited to start working with his colorguard. I came in to meet the girls and learned that their program had been struggling in recent years with no consistent director or guard instructor. So I knew my work was cut out for me.

What I didn’t expect is what I saw when they showed me to their “guard room.”

After a walk out of the band room and down the hall, the girls introduced me to a large hole under the gym bleachers with bad lighting and a very low ceiling. Worse than that though, was the pile of balled-up silks in the floor and the poles thrown all over the place! Even worse than that, were the roaches and mouse droppings mixed in with the piles of flags.

I knew that inventory would have to be done, but I put it off as long as I could. I used our budget to order all new practice flags, poles, and show flags for the upcoming season. And then planned on spending the summer organizing the “guard room.”  My guard practices over the summer, one day a week, for four hours.  So I planned for one of the practices to be our inventory day. I got there early, and pulled everything out of the guard room and into the band room.

Once the girls arrived, I split them into four groups of two or three girls each.

  1. Group one went to work taking all the silks off poles, all the tape of the poles, and finding all the stoppers (crutch tips) they could. They then decided if the stoppers were reusable and tossed the rest.
  2. Group two went to work using “GooGone” to wipe down all the poles. Then they organized all the poles by length and color. We also tossed a few poles that were well past reusable. (*While using the googone, everyone wore medical masks, and we had all the windows open. I also made sure it was my more responsible girls handling this part of the project.)
  3. Group three worked with the piles of the flags. Organizing them by shape, color, and set. They PROPERLY folded them and put each individual set into plastic grocery bags complete with labels of how many there were. While this was going on, I went around and took a picture of every silk, pole, and prop we had. I’ll explain why in a moment.
  4. Group four was put to work washing all the furniture that was in the guard room (the table, chairs, guard cart, etc) and then sweeping and mopping the room.
Once this day was done, we put everything into the corner of the band room and got some much needed rest.

I then focused on how to keep this problem from ever happening again. I had all the pictures I had taken of the silks, poles, and props, printed. I then bought a ½ inch binder and some plastic sheet protectors (the kind meant for collecting cards) and organized the photos into the protectors, leaving one open space on each page. I made a cover for the binder that stated it was the Guard Inventory, and I inserted an index card into each black space that named what the item was, and how many we had of said item.

I also made a place for “equipment checkout” where each student could sign out an item. We have one page that is just a spreadsheet of the item, number of said item, and where it is located, so that we can avoid flipping through the book if we need to. At the beginning of the season, the picture will help in picking what show flags we’d like to use, and we can avoid pulling everything out of the tubs to see colors and shapes. This notebook will always be kept in the band director’s office, and all equipment checkouts have to be approved by the director.

Then I focused on what could be done about the dungeon of a guard room. I started looking closely at the rooms that were directly off the band room and found that the whole band had a storage room of lockers, and that there was another large room of equal size that was the “drum room.” I was a little irritated that the drum line of only 7 people was given a 15’x10’ room for their things, while the guard was given a storage closet under the gym. So after discussing things with the drum instructor and band director, we decided to split the “drum room” into a drum and guard room. It was a delicate situation because the drumline obviously didn’t want to give up half their room, but when we offered to clean out and organize the room (it was a hot mess!) they came around.

Once I knew where we would store things, I started to think about how we could store the silks to keep them clean, folded, and most importantly, away from various critters that inhabit a school. I used a bit of money from the guard budget and bought 20 plastic tubs (5 gallon) from Walmart. I then labeled the tubs 1, 2, 3, etc. for show flags, and P1, P2, P3, etc. for practice flags. I also numbered all of the Rifles and props. Then we organized all the flags into the tubs, and I went back to the inventory notebook and wrote where each flag was located. We also used one of the tubs for various inventory items like stoppers, weights, gloves, and tape.

We moved into the new room and organized all the tubs under a large table. I propped a bulletin board on the table that was decorated with all their names. We placed all show flags in flag bags in the corner, and then we placed large 5 gallon buckets in the floor to hold practice flags.

All in all, this project took about 2 weeks to complete, and cost about $100 for various supplies. But, they now have a complete inventory that is organized and properly stored. As we order new items, we will add them into the inventory and the notebook, and at the end of every school year we will recount everything to make sure that nothing has gone missing.  So far, this has worked very very well. The girls are on time for practice because they don’t have to leave the band room to collect their things, and all of their equipment is easily accessible.

I hope this helps as you create an inventory for your guard. Keep in mind that every one does this a bit differently and there is no wrong or right way to do it. But do consider that you want your inventory to work for you, and the instructor that comes along after you, whether it’s next year or twenty years from now.

Here is a list of everything we needed or had to buy:

1 half inch binder
50 plastic sheet protectors
about 40 developed photos
Index cards
Permanent Markers
20 large plastic tubs (its better if they’re clear)
4 five gallon buckets
Goo Gone
Old Rags for cleaning

Happy Organizing!

Tags: , , ,

Category: Equipment Management/Logistics, Instruction, Team Management

About the Author (Author Profile)

Alicia Sharp is a student at Carson Newman College where she studies French, English, and Linguistics. She is a graduate of South Doyle High School in Knoxville, TN where she performed with the color guard for 5 years, 3 of which she lead the group. She is an alumni of CIPA and WGI winter guards FUEL performance ensemble, and Etude Independent, as well as a DCI alumnus of Southwind Drum and Bugle Corp and The Santa Clara Vanguard. She has performed in various groups for 14 seasons, and has taught color guard at various high schools in East Tennessee and Kentucky. She currently teaches at Morristown Hamblen High School Easte in Morristown, TN.

Comments (9)

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  1. Michele says:

    When I took over my guard from the majorette instructor, I faced a similar issue. The silks were somewhat organized but, I found a crate that had silks still in packaging. There were poles that were bent and had tape all over them. Everything was shoved into a small corner of the uniform closet.

    Thankfully our stadium band room had just been redone and we were moving everything over there. I have half a room for my equipment. I cleaned every pole with goo gone, then made an inventory of all the equipment.

  2. Christie says:

    I’ll be doing inventory/reorganizing in December and this is a great help! I will also be labeling every piece of equipment with a number. Everyone will be assigned a number and they will be responsible for their equipment for the whole season (from check-out to check-in). I think this will help with learning equipment upkeep and being responsible for their own things.

    Thanks again for the great tips!

  3. Wow!! totally going to steal this and use for my kids rooms :) not even kidding. What a great way to get your team involved, and an amazing result! Kudos.

    xo, TMC

  4. Tyla says:

    This article is going to help me so much! I just took over coaching a guard. The previous coach had no organizational skills, and for the whole three years she was there had completely turned everything upside down. The guard room was complete chaos. Between myself and the captain we have been able to make it somewhat manageable, but this will definitely help us out even more when we tackle the room next season. Thank you!

  5. Damon says:

    I organized all of our equipment in a similar manner. However I used vacuum sealed space saver bags for all the silks. It works great, you are able to see all the sets of flags and it keeps them clean. It also saves a lot of space, I was able to fit 250+ silks in 3 bags!

  6. Sue says:

    I am at 3 schools and I have used pictures and tubs. I have a powerpoint of the pics by school on my computer, and I have the measurements and count right on the pic…one school often “borrows” from the other. I also have the powerpoints in several formats, by count, by color, by pole hem size and by “date of birth.”

    At one school, we have the nice racks that hold 24 poles each and extra trash barrels, but one school had NO place except in the attic of the band room… I noticed they had an overabundance of those flute/clarinet lockers, and I asked if we could have two top to bottom rows. We took the SHELVES of one stack, used zip strips to make one big door and that holds up to 30 poles. The other verticle row of lockers (6 of them) was used for flags, in giant ziplock bags (can get 10-15 per bag)with the lockers numbered much like the bins would be. A couple lockers store tape, weights, stoppers, etc. Complete inventory in 5 linear feet of lockers. Accessible without going up to the spooky attic…

  7. olatutu akinyelure says:

    I am just beginning to take over the color guard of my daughter corp. they have been in existance for over years. my mission will be to help director inventory the equipment and organize fundraisers for new stuff. This is a big step for me who has been cheering on the side lines for the past couple years. this site is truely helpful/

  8. Kelsey says:

    I did something very similar with my students when our closet started getting out of hand. I called it a “Pole Party”. At our last performance, I gave my students printed flyers to get the kids geared up about it… they came, I split them into groups, and we organized just like the article above for the most part. Afterwards, I had pizza delivered and we played games like “Pin the Pole on the Colorguard” (Draw a person or arm, draw a flag, and cut out long slivers of paper for poles… blindfold the students and have them try to connect the flag to the hand)… Musical chairs… etc… And I had small prizes for winners that virtually cost me nothing. I have my own embroidery machine, so I went to the dollar store and found headband ear warmers and embroidered our school name on them. I only allow my kids to wear white gloves, so I picked a few pair of those up too, because we all know how easily they get ruined. Some bobby pin packs were a big hit, because no matter how many you own, you can never have enough… they were on the clearance rack at Target. I had some leftover vinyl decals from our competition that I had stored for several years that were going to waste. I told them that we wouldn’t begin the games until all of the work was done, and they were all aware their parents were instructed to come at such and such time… so the kids were very motivated to get the hard work done so they could play hard too before pick-up. They had a blast. The following year, our closet was pretty under control, so I threw them a Halloween costume party instead. This year I threw them a tie-dye party, and they asked if we were having a Halloween party again. I asked which they would rather do… a pole party or a Halloween party and you can imagine my surprise when they chose the pole party!

  9. Lea Nichols says:

    This is a great article and was very helpful. I will be using some of these tips for our growing program. I would like to know one thing. Do any of you steam or dry clean the flags or is there a better way to clean them.

    Thank you in advance :)

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