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.
Once the girls arrived, I split them into four groups of two or three girls each.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
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
20 large plastic tubs (its better if they’re clear)
4 five gallon buckets
Old Rags for cleaning
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.