Cheney Free Press -

Water fight caps Cheney band camp


September 6, 2012


Staff Reporter

For two weeks in August, a bunch of teenagers got up early in the morning to voluntarily heft heavy objects, high-step in formation across a field and make beautiful music, all in the heat of late summer.

While this might sound like torture to some, for those select students at Cheney High School it's called marching band camp.

More than 100 students make up the 2012 marching band at CHS, and they spent those two weeks preparing their set, which director Mike Suhling called one of the most difficult the band has taken on. The students spent long days in the sun learning the music and the moves. Water, sunscreen and dedication were essential.

On the last day of camp, Aug. 30, the marching band had been at it for more than 100 hours. Instead of relaxing in the shade, students were hauling coolers, water guns and sling shots from their cars onto the field between CHS and Betz Elementary. Four different battle stations were set up, and students set to strategizing. It was time for the capstone of band camp: an epic water balloon fight.

Parents stood safely behind a fence as Suhling went out to talk to the students, who had gathered in the middle of the field wearing face paint with giant water balloons in hand. Their director explained the rules—no physical contact—and thanked the students for their work during camp before being pelted with water. The fight had begun.

Students retreated to their stations to get munitions, and different strategies emerged. Some opted for long-range projectiles, either throwing balloons or launching them out of slingshots. Others took garbage can lid shields and headed out into the field to meet in close range lobbing.

Within moments, most students were drenched and laughing. A Cheney fire truck stopped by to shower the band with a fire hose, and the water that remained in the containers was dumped on whoever was near enough.

The balloon fight was a release for the students who had been working so hard to prepare for upcoming performances. The day finished up with a performance for parents and dinner on the grill.

Now that school has begun, the marching band will continue to rehearse, as well as performing at CHS sporting events and competitions. Weekend competitions will take the band around the state, but they'll also perform close to home. Local folks can trek to Joe Albi Stadium for the Sounds of Thunder competition Oct. 13.

Becky Thomas can be reached at


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