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The Pioneer organization has enjoyed a long and proud history of excellence in performance throughout North America. Originally founded in 1961 as the Imperials of St. Patrick, the corps merged with the Cedarburg Thunderbolts of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, in 1973. The widely respected youth organization changed its name to Pioneer in 1974 with the addition of a generous corporate sponsor, the Pioneer Box and Container Company of Cedarburg.
Over the years, the Pioneer has continued to evolve and focus on the pursuit of excellence in every aspect of their educational and musical programs. Since the corps adopted the philosophy of "Better Every Day!," its members have managed to capture seven Drum Corps Midwest titles and three Drum Corps International World Championship titles, gaining World Class Semi-finalist status in Drum Corps International and proving the Pioneer to be one of the most successful drum and bugle corps in the Midwest.
The corps' Irish heritage is reflected in its musical selections that have become the corps' trademark, enjoyed by audiences across the United States
Pioneerland is a parcel of land that the corps owns in Cudahy, WI. The seven acre property is currently the home of our practice field, which is equipped with a permanent multi-level tower and an office overlooking the field. Also located on the property is a two-story garage which houses all of our coach buses and equipment during the off season. In the near future the corps also plans to build a permanent corps hall on the property in which it will hold all of its winter camps and spring rehearsals.
For more on the history of Pioneerland, click here!
Coming and checking is the best way to answer the 'is the corps right for me' question. It's hard to tell until you meet the people and feel if it's the right place for you, how you fit with others, the staff, etc.
The corps has it's origins in the St. Patrick Church in Milwaukee, WI. It was founded as a youth activity for students and children of that congregation and the area. Since then, the corps has merged, expanded, and changed over the years as the Drum Corps activity changed. The corps membership comes from many different countries, faiths and populations, but many of our traditions are Christian in nature. The corps' musical choices reflect a mix of music of the British and Irish Isles and Contemporary Christian music. The corps attends church on Sundays (This is optional for those whose beliefs conflict) and the corps has a prayer recited after rehearsals, before performances and other special occasions.
The first step toward joining the Pioneer is to complete our online application. After that, you'll receive information about the corps and upcoming camps by mail or through email.
You will also want to join our Interest & Auditions Group on Facebook. You'll have a chance to interact with other members and staff members within that group.
The next step is to attend a camp and audition for the section of your choice. If you are unable to make that section, you may be offered a position in a different section of the corps. Keeping a positive attitude, displaying class, determination and a willingness to learn is a sure way to guarantee yourself a spot in the Pioneer!
If you are unable to attend one of our audition camps, there will be an opportunity to submit a video audition. Watch for more details on video auditions to be posted on our website and social media outlets.
Membership Dues for this year will be $2900 for the season. This includes all summer transportation, instruction, equipment, uniform, cultural days, event admissions and 85% of meals.
Pioneer offers a sponsorship program to help offset costs called Sponsors of Pioneer Youth, or SOPY. It is simple! Send a sponsorship letter to friends, family and local businesses. Any money given to the corps in your name goes directly to your tuition. Many have paid for the entire summer with this program!
For more information on the SOPY program: Click Here!
New Member Camp Fee: $85.00
Rehearsal camps are typically held one weekend a month from December through May to prepare the corps for the competitive summer season. Members are expected to attend all camps. We understand that it is not always possible to attend every camp as required school events and concerts, final exams, illness, weddings for immediate family members or funerals can interfere with the camp schedule. Work, extended family events, and optional school events or trips are not acceptable reasons to miss a rehearsal. Any conflicts should be addressed with the corps director and your caption head as soon as possible and BEFORE the rehearsal begins.
People typically drive, take a bus, take Amtrak or fly into one of the many locations around us. Pioneer provides a free shuttle service to O'Hare Airport, Mitchell Airport, and Milwaukee Bus/Amtrak stations.
No, you don't have to be from Milwaukee to be a member of the corps. In fact, many members of the corps travel great distances to come to our camps and rehearsals. Pioneer has also had members from as far away as Holland, Japan, and South Africa. We consider ourselves to be a "corps without borders".
No, you don't have to buy your own instrument. Pioneer currently provides all of the equipment that you will need during camps and while on tour.
In preparation for the summer tour, the corps will begin holding full day rehearsals on Memorial Day weekend. These rehearsals will continue until the corps leaves for the competitive summer tour. The corps will also participate in some parades and local exhibitions during this time period.
Members will be expected to move to Milwaukee for the summer as soon as they possibly can to participate in as much of spring training as possible. For many members this will occur on Memorial Day weekend. For other members who are still in school, they have to move in as soon as possible after completing their school year.
It is the corps policy that school comes before corps. This applies to all camps and spring training. If you are still in school when spring training begins, you will be expected to move to Milwaukee as soon as possible after completing your school year. Some schools may allow you to work ahead and take exams earlier. The sooner you can join the corps at spring training, the better the corps will be when the competitive summer tour kicks off.
It is essential that you communicate with the corps director and your caption head regarding your school schedule and your expected move in date.
The corps goes on tour from mid-June through mid-August. The tour takes the corps around the upper midwest early in the season. As the season goes on, the corps travels to competitions in more distant locations such as Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and other states along the east coast. The season concludes with the Drum Corps International World Championships which are held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.
Pioneer owns five coach buses, an equipment truck, a cook truck appropriately named the Shamrock Diner.
The corps provides 85% of all meals on tour. The meals are prepared in the corps' food truck, appropriately nicknamed the "Shamrock Diner". The members receive a minimum of three meals a day and are in most cases served a snack at night after the competition or practice. When circumstances don't allow the corps to prepare a meal (ex. During travel days), the corps will stop at fast food restaurants and the members will be responsible for purchasing their own meal.
All housing is provided by the corps. The corps stays in middle schools, high schools, and occasionally in other suitable venues in the communities that are hosting competitions.
You will not have many chances to spend your money. You will usually only need money for buying something to eat or drink at a rest stop at night, for laundry, or when the corps has a free day. The corps provides 85% of the summer meals. You will purchase most of the other 15% when we are traveling a long distance.
Do not bring a lot of money. Having large amounts of money on the road is just inviting trouble and you probably won't use it all anyway. Pioneer will not be responsible for money being held by an individual member that is lost, stolen, or left lying about.
The Corps is scheduled to have weekly clothes washing stops that take place in a brief 4-hour time slot. Members should be prepared, however, to go up to 10 days between laundry days as the schedule doesn't always allow for laundry days to be scheduled at exact intervals.
A weekly stop to a Wal-Mart or at a similar all-purpose store is scheduled weekly for necessary re-supplying of personal items. A 1 ½ hour time slot is adequate!
Pioneer allows its members to have and use cell phones after the activities for the day have been completed. This includes rehearsals and/or performances. The use of a cell phone as a clock is not a valid excuse; buy an inexpensive watch. Unfortunately, there is the possibility of forgetting electronic devices (or the charger) at the housing site or having them stolen by outsiders since the devices are not allowed at rehearsal. If you choose to not bring a cell phone, several administrative staff members have cell phones on tour that you are welcomed to use for emergencies and short calls home. Additionally, the corps receives mail regularly. Emergency calls from home are directed to the management staff on tour. Any items you bring on tour are YOUR responsibility. Be aware that there are minimal accessible plug-ins for power and few opportunities for you to do email on tour. Pioneer is not responsible for any property that is lost, damaged or stolen while with the corps.
It is very important for the management to know of any illnesses from which you may suffer – no matter how major, minor, or embarrassing. Please note any illnesses or medications on the medical form. Only the corps management will view the medical form. If you become ill while with the corps, you will be taken to the nearest clinic or hospital. Remember, you must have your own insurance plan.
If there's an emergency involving a member, corps management will immediately attempt to contact the parents/guardians as dictated by the paperwork filled out at the beginning of the season. If there is an emergency at home, the quickest way to contact the corps is to either call the corps cell phone (414-333-2235) or call the corps office (414-327-2847). It is not uncommon for a member of the corps to leave the corps temporarily to attend a funeral or family crisis. It is completely understandable and the corps supports its members throughout the experience and will welcome them back when they are ready to return.
Yes, you can receive mail on tour! Whenever possible, a member of the teaching or support staff will bring the mail and packages from home when they join the corps on tour. To send mail to a member, send it to the corps office at the address below and place the member's name in the lower left-hand corner.
Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps
The "togetherness and friendship we share" is demonstrated on these days. It provides for a rehearsal-free time to enjoy historic and local points of interest. The corps pays all admission fees as well as fees for tour guides. Recent cultural days have included New York City, San Antonio, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago and Niagara Falls.