I think the trip can be classified as an invasion as there were 107 Gr 9 band students, at least 75 from the upper grades, and about 18 teachers and chaperones on the 5 day trip. Marlene was a chaperone. What an amazing trip!
Here’s an article about the trip that Marlene wrote for the local paper: Making_Music_in_the_Mountains draft
A view inside one of the three buses that transported us everywhere. We even got bused up to the Banff Centre from the Brewster Mountain Lodge, where we stayed. It’s only a 15-minute walk but with all the instruments and the very real chance of losing a student or two, we always took the bus. In here somewhere are the 10 lovely young women in my chaperone group.
Students arrived in Calgary on different flights throughout the day so as they did they were bused to the Calgary Zoo. Brilliant plan on the part of Gord Birkinshaw, the senior band teacher who planned everything. The kids got free time to hang out, adjust to the time zone, see a nice zoo and were corralled into a confined area (easier for the chaperones!) Once all the kids had arrived and had some time at the zoo we filled three charter buses and headed to Banff.
En route to the zoo (Marlene & Nic were on the earliest flight, with about 80 others) we stopped at a mall food court for lunch. The place was just opening but we’d been up for about 9 hours by then.
At the zoo. Gorgeous day, about 22 degrees and sunny.
Being the first group to get to the zoo we had something like six hours there — more than anyone really needed. But the kids found ways to entertain themselves while everyone else arrived, like a mass card game near the entrance.
Despite having to be up around 3:00am the day of departure we were scheduled for a 5:30am wakeup call the next morning, to grab our bag breakfasts and get on the buses at 6:30am to get to our Columbia Icefields tour. We were booked on the first tours of the day, but the tour company definitely over-estimated the travel time from Banff and we were easily an hour early. That gave us time for a scenic lookout stop enroute.
Here’s the massive ice explorer vehicle that took us onto the glacier.
Glacier underfoot selfie
Apparently it’s something of a tradition for the boys to bare their chests while on a glacier — at least that’s what happened on the previous two band trips to Banff, and the 2015 guys were up to the challenge.
A food court in Banff — right around the corner from our hotel, with lots of choice, so we went there for several quick lunches. Mostly the kids were on their own for dinners, to go out, buy groceries, get takeout, whatever.
The senior concert band performing — a mix of the Grade 10 and senior (11 and 12) bands.
Chaperone style selfie. You get to boss all kinds of kids around when you’re dressed in a band shirt.
Some of Marlene’s fellow adults, left to right, Karen Baird, Krista Norton, Josee Witherow (my roommate), Peter Littlefield, and Catherine Roberts. All chaperones, and experienced ones, except Krista who’s the Grade 9 band teacher (and fearless leader in all kinds of fun non-musical activities).
Josee and I enjoying an exceptionally delicious Bloody Caesar (garnished with a pickled bean and a yummy s+p chicken wing) at the Eddie Burger. Got to watch the Sens whip some Montreal butt there too. The whole chaperone contingent joined, plus teacher Krista, making a party of 12 (and I do mean party). The Eddie is right across the street from the hotel so we took turns popping over to make sure the kids weren’t getting into as much trouble as their chaperones were.
Managed to fit in a hike at Johnson Canyon, about 20 minutes west of Banff. The kids needed to see why this place is a national park. Despite the trail actually being paved (when Marlene was a local she shunned it along with all locals who considered it too tame) it was gorgeous. The kids loved it too. They half ran the whole thing and were constantly taking pictures of the scenery and each other. It wasn’t very cold — definitely well above zero — but we had a little snow flurries to make it even more mountain-ish.
Nic’s band performing — part of Loch Lomond. Look for Nic amongst the trombones.
The junior band waiting for their clinic to start, which was the day after they performed. Follow the arrow to Nic.
Getting set up for the formal festival photo — not only did it take forever, this band being more than twice the size of most, but the benches the kids had to stand on were rickety and narrow. One poor kid fell off from fairly high up. Banged himself up a little and ripped his pants but curled around his sax when he fell so the instrument was unscathed. Follow the arrow to find Nic.
The last full day in Banff the kids had the option of skiing at Sunshine Village (which Nic and I chose) or going on the Sulphur Mountain Gondola and Mineral Hot Springs in town. It was amazing spring skiing at Sunshine.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
Our last evening in town the whole band dined together at the Olde Spaghetti Factory.
What I haven’t posted in photos are the nightly get-togethers in the band teacher’s room, where we had ‘tea’ and laughed well into the night. I haven’t slept that little in a week for decades! The final night there I had 2 hours sleep, because I just had to take part in the evening social and had to wake up at 2:15am to escort one student flying on points to the Calgary airport for our very early flight home. Krista says I was a great chaperone so I’m hoping to have many more band trips with Nic.