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PHOTO: Bugle break

Kris Neal of Racine plays Tuesday afternoon, June 12, 2012, in Pershing Park during a break in the Racine Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps practice session. Neal, who has been with the corps since 1991, is an instructor with the group. This year is the 85th year for the Racine Scouts, who are the oldest drum and bugle corps in the United States. / File photo by Gregory Shaver B

RACINE — Establishing a strong local base is a top priority for the Racine Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps as it works toward reorganization for the 2013 season.

The Scouts announced Monday they are ending their 2012 season early. Randy Chaffee, who was appointed the corps’ new executive director Tuesday night, said a revolving membership was putting a strain on the remaining corps members and staff. Some new members did not understand all of the work involved in being in a drum corps and decided to leave, and new members joined the corps when the touring season was already under way.

“They have to rehearse every day,” he said. “They get up, eat breakfast, rehearse, eat lunch, rehearse some more and then rehearse some more after dinner.” He added that the hot weather did not help the situation.

Chaffee said the board plans to work at recruiting a strong local membership because that will likely bring with it a local volunteer base “to get things accomplished.”

Corps membership is open to ages 14 to 21, and being able to play an instrument is not a requirement. “It’s open to whoever; we teach people how to play” or perform in the color guard, Chaffee said. The membership fee for the 2013 season is still being determined.

Anyone interested in joining the corps may contact the corps through Facebook (Racine Scouts DBC), its website (, call (262) 331-3092 or fill out the form at

The board of directors also welcomes anyone wanting to help the corps with its reorganization and recruitment efforts, Chaffee said. Those interested may call the number above or contact the corps through its website.

By ending the season early, the corps is also incurring a loss of funds, as it is paid roughly $700 to $1,200 for performing in parades and at drum corps competitions. Chaffee said they will continue raising funds through their bingo program and running a food stand at Packer games at Lambeau Field.

Chaffee, a former Scouts member, said his appointment as executive director of the corps is especially meaningful because his family has had someone in the Racine Scouts since 1967. He had been the corps treasurer for “at least five years.”

The Scouts, founded in 1927, are a junior corps that competes in open class in Drum Corps International. Drum and bugle corps is a competitive marching music activity. DCI’s member corps spend the summer rehearsing their shows, touring the country and competing with other corps.

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