Band Camp Prank: Marching Band and Fire Truck

I posted the picture below and got feedback asking how we did that…. so below the pic are some steps and suggestion.

Are your rehearsals always serious? This band, during band camp week, was complaining about the heat and wanted a water break. Not sure this is what they expected. Fire Departments need to have training exercises. We were happy to help.

Are your rehearsals always serious? This band, during band camp week, was complaining about the heat and wanted a water break. Not sure this is what they expected. Fire Departments need to have training exercises. We were happy to help.

Additional pictures below.

My father was a 32-yr fire fighter and I spent much of my childhood around the firehouse. Some things you may not realize:

  • Firefighters are community minded people — many are coaches for summer league sports, but genuinely interested in helping students.
  • The 1000 gallons of water carried in a pumper truck needs to be flushed/recycled periodically.
  • Firefighting professionals need practice – training in controlling and directing high pressure water flow. What better target than a bunch of teenagers.
  • Most have a cool sense of humor.
  • There is a hierarchy of command and approval in a fire department.
  • You can’t just park or hide a heavy fire truck just anywhere.
  • Consideration has to be made as to where that 1000 gallons of water is going to go.
  • Instruments, electronics, wallets, some eyeglasses, etc…. won’t deal well with that much water.
  • Without a legitimate way of opting out, which can’t really be announced in advance, you are taking some risk with parents….
  • Consider the effect on thin, white t-shirts.
  • Solicit help from a couple highly-trusted parents. (towels, etc)
  • We’re talking about a huge amount of water and a significant amount of wet.
  • What happens next?
  • Don’t just call 9-1-1.


Plan it for the end of a day. You’re not going to get anything done afterward. But also, consider that your students are going to be incredibly wet….. and putting them immediately in their parents cars might not be the best idea either. Consider having some fun and games …. or snacks after.

Have a backup day — obviously you can’t do it on a rainy day.

Coordinate with the Fire Department. Ensure you’re talking to the right people. It will take at least the person in charge of a particular fire house to oversee the specific event and he may need to get approval from higher-ups. This is not a normal request they get. Allow time for some inter-departmental communication and approval. 

Where? My original intent was to hide the fire truck and have it shoot water over the corner of our high school onto a totally unsuspecting group of teens. That didn’t work. The FD informed me that the truck would tear up any grass and also that there would need to be consideration of where the water would go, aka a drain. Unfortunately for us, that meant parking the truck in the middle of the school parking lot with no way that the students wouldn’t at least see it before something happened. So how do you get 100 students to get close enough to a fire truck? Keep reading.

Get school approval. At least inform your principal what you are doing so that if he/she receives phone calls, there will at least be knowledge of the event.

Protect the electronics, wallets, etc.

  1. You must convince students to remove cell phones, iPods, mp3 players, etc from their pockets. Also wallets and anything else that a lot of water could damage. How do you do that without telling them why? Keep reading.
  2. You must keep all that stuff safe. Have a way to guard it.

The Prank

The day before.

Some of you are starting to get red (burned) out here….including through some really thin t-shirts. It is supposed to be hot and sunny tomorrow and I’d like to ask that you consider wearing something other than a thin, white t-shirt.

Call a couple trusted band parents and ask if they can bring a collection of old towels. In case they are going to borrow from someone, ensure them that nothing will happen to damage the towels. If you must, and you can, tell them what is going on.

The day of.

Make sure everything is okay with the FD.

If you happen to be outside, be sure to have a reason to come inside for a few minutes prior to the arrival of the fire department.

  1. The music isn’t going well and you want an impromptu inside rehearsal or sectional.
  2. The marching isn’t going well and you are going to take them inside and give them the what for.
  3. You’ve noticed a problem with electronics and want to deal with it.

Find a place to line the band up in a parade-block type setting where they cannot see the truck. We planned behind a corner of the building.

Put on your mean face…..and throw a temper tantrum that goes something like this:

Ok band, it is time for some fundamental marching. Set you instruments down in the grass over there. And while you’re at it, put all cell phones, watches and electronics with your instrument. I want none of that on the field. Don’t worry, these parents will watch your stuff until you have marched this block all the way around the building. How many times around depends on YOU!

There will be a lot of questioning and maybe even some complaining. Remember, you must get all the electronics out of their clothing.

Now line up. Shrink the interval to 2-steps. Two steps across, two steps front to back. You’re going to be so tight that a mis-step is going to be problematic….so you need to focus, listen to commands and get everything else out of your mind, GOT IT?

As you march around the corner, they will see the truck, but if you are sufficiently convincing, they will be concentrating more on calming you down with absolute compliance. Consider starting and stopping them a couple times.

As they get in range…. STOP and correct alignment or something. And then…

(click any image to enlarge)

Afterwards, allow them to go back to get their stuff…..have the parents who were guarding it hand out some towels. Consider a few minutes of activity in the sunlight to also help dry out the clothes a little. You may hear comments like:

I don’t get this wet when I jump into a swimming pool.

Thanks for reading.

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17 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them. Also 4yrs as proprietor of, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.

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