Cheer Camp: How To Prepare and Be Successful Cheerleading blog Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful also serves as a precursor to the season and can help get everyone back into the swing of the physical demands they can expect during the season. If your team has members that are new, it’s a great way to get them ready for performances. Thinking about attending cheer camp? Wondering what to expect when you get there? Not sure what to bring to camp? Here’s a brief on what it’s all about. Camp schedules will include stunting and tumbling drills based on performance level, learning routines, team building activities and getting the scoop on the importance of safety in cheerleading. Cheer Camp 101 Cheerleading camp is a summer tradition dating back to the late 1940s. As the weather gets hot and a new football, basketball and competition season approaches, cheerleaders gather together at a cheer program to learn from professionals, other squads and each other. Who attends? Your team, and other local and regional teams, will attend camp together and interact to maximize the experience for everyone. Coaches, and possibly assistant coaches and choreographers, will attend to lead their team and manage schedules. Cheer parents and cheer siblings don’t attend, but typically there is a final show or competition on the last day of camp that they is performed for them. Some cheerleading teams offer their own camps for their community as a fundraising technique; those are the camps that cheer siblings would be able to attend. Where is camp? Many times, cheer camps will be held on college campuses, which will have the facilities to accommodate all the attendees for housing and practice. If this is the case, teams may have to travel to get to camp. What exactly is camp? Camp is just what it implies – an away-‐from-‐home overnight experience! For cheerleaders, camp is a time to attend ‘workshops’ that teach techniques in motion, cheers, chants, stunting and tumbling. Camps will typically employ former and current cheerleaders as instructors. Other times, coaches may hire professionals to come to their school for a local camp. In this case, the team may stay at the school or go home after the day’s activities. It is best for teams to go to a camp Camp is a great place for teams to work on unity and perfect their skills. Since the days will be filled with routines and practices, camp © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. 1 Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful that they stay at the whole time, because it helps facilitate bonding among team members (especially those newbies!). Coache’s Guide: How To Get The Most Out Of Cheer Camp Camp is an important place for cheerleading squads to bond, build trust, learn in a safe environment, improve their skills and prepare for competitions. It is also an invaluable place for coaches to gather materials, information and tips that will help them train and lead their squad. When does camp take place? Cheerleading camp takes place in the summer, and can run anytime during the months of June, July and August Now that you have decided that your team should kick off cheerleading season with camp, how do you choose the right one and prepare your team for the experience? Considerations When Choosing A Camp • Camp Type: Should your squad travel for overnight camp, attend a commuter camp or should you have a local clinic (where you hire an instructor to work with your team at a local facility)? © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. 2 Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful • Budget: Make sure that you choose a camp that every member of your squad will be able to afford either through general team fees or fundraising activities. • Location and Dates: Plan in advance to make sure camp doesn’t interfere with your season’s schedule and that there is plenty of time for your squad to raise funds. If you choose a camp that requires travel, you need to distribute the dates to your team well in advance. Goals: Decide what is most important for your squad to focus on this season. Do you have a new squad that needs to learn the basics, or an advanced squad that wants to take its stunts to the next level? • • • Squad Type: Do your research and make sure that you choose a cheer camp that reflects your team’s skill level and competitive experience. Don’t forget to check for co-‐ed approved camps if you have a co-‐ed team. Each camp should offer plenty of materials that detail the curriculum and restrictions, and you should contact the camp organizers if you have any questions. • Once you have found the right camp for your team, don’t wait to register! Camps can fill up fast and you won’t want your team to miss all the fun! Preparing Your Squad For Camp • Working Out: Camp is all about physical activity! Get your squad into a regular routine of stretching and working out © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. before camp so that their muscles will be able to keep up with the schedule without soreness. Teamwork: Prepare your squad to intensify the way that they work together as a team by initiating bonding activities and events before and during camp. Competition: Camp environments are filled with team pride, spirit and competition! Many camps even hold a performance and awards ceremony on the last day. Build your team’s spirit before camp, and make sure you have some activities in place to keep their spirits high! Cheer camp is intense and can push your team hard, but it is also an opportunity to have fun! Keep the stress out and the fun in by choosing the right camp, preparing your team and being there for your squad to offer support and encouragement through the entire experience. 3 Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful What To Expect At Cheer Camp Camp will be filled with experienced (and enthusiastic!) instructors and volunteers that will help teams build self-‐confidence, inspire and be inspired in a positive environment that promotes a love for cheerleading. What should you expect as a coach, captain or new team member? Coaches As a cheerleading coach or advisor, you are responsible for your entire team during camp. Beyond that though, you also need to be prepared to manage the expectations of your captain and team. Camp is a great time to mentor your captain and prepare her for leading the team during the season. It’s also a great time to really become familiar with, and showcase, your team’s abilities and honor each team member’s uniqueness. You may also be asked to perform some counseling duties like chaperoning recreational activities and other events on the schedule, and working with other teams and coaches. Captains Even if you are an experienced camper, attending as your team’s captain can be a different © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. experience entirely. As captain, you’ll have many of the same responsibilities at camp that you will have at practices and performances throughout the season. Captains are the leaders’ leader, and need to be prepared to keep spirits up. They are responsible for facilitating camp culture and cheer traditions by assembling and preparing the team each day for activities. Captains need to make sure their team stretches each morning and is aware of the day’s activities. Captains are also expected to tap into their creativity for developing and teaching new moves and routines, and assisting their coach in leading practices. Captains need to remember that they are setting an example not only for their own team, but also for all other captains and teams attending camp with them. Be prepared to answer questions that your team members and other cheerleaders and captains may have. Newbies If this is your first year attending cheer camp, don’t be nervous! You will be working hard and pushing yourself, but you’ll also learn a ton, make new friends and create life-‐long memories. Camp days will be filled with planned activities that will be hard work – but also hard play! Many camps include lots of fun activities for attendees like swimming, cookouts and nighttime campfires. You’ll be staying in a shared living space, so be sure that your camp checklist only includes the essentials. Camp is also a time to do a lot of learning. It is unique a experience that surrounds you with all levels of cheerleading talent, so take the 4 Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful opportunity to ask a lot of questions (and take a lot of notes)! Camp, like regular season practices and commitments, is something that requires you to put in effort to get results. You need to be prepared to be on time for events, and to put everything you have into participating. Push yourself to get involved in contests and competitions. © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. 6 Reasons To Be Psyched For Camp 1. You will get closer with your squad. Bonding is something that can’t really be taught from a playbook. It has to happen naturally. Few experiences set the stage for bonding possibilities better than a week at cheerleading camp. Taking the team away from the school’s four walls and into a new environment with new adventures can do wonders for team camaraderie. 2. One word: routines! At camp, you will learn enough new routines to fill a few yearbooks. Want fresh inspiration? Want boredom busters? Want to kick start the new school year with a competition-‐ready squad that gets the crowd’s attention? Then you want get your pom-‐poms to camp. 3. Staff that make a difference. Good cheerleading camps manufacture mentors. Everyone needs a good, positive role model in his or her life. Typically made up of counselors who care more than the norm about bringing out the best in you, the average cheerleading camp is a mecca for role models waiting to happen. 4. Meeting new people. Making friends with campers from schools across the country does a lot more than up your Facebook numbers. It allows you to have real experiences with people who share your goals and interests. Swap stories, share tips and get to know what it’s like to cheer outside of your zip code. 5 Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful 5. Step outside your comfort zone. Camp brings with it a whole new set of ways to challenge yourself that might not even involve your physique. Sure it’s great to learn new moves, jumps and stunts that you never thought you could attempt, but camp may also be the right place to show your coach that you can be a leader. Set a good example by being disciplined when others may want to goof off. Offer suggestions for group activities or ways to mingle with the crowd. Be observant and continually on the lookout for opportunities to learn and grow. 6. Be a better cheerleader. When it gets right down to it, this is what you want when it’s all said and done. You want to improve. You want to be better this year than you were last year. You want to learn to jump higher, land smoother and tumble faster. Camp should certainly be about letting your hair down, having fun and making friends. But at the end of it all, you should have gathered enough information, inspiration, drive and passion to leave as a better cheerleader than you were when you arrived. Cheer Camp Checklist Whether your camp is only a few days or a little longer, you want to make sure that you don’t forget anything important! Making a list beforehand will ensure you have everything you need so you can focus on learning and teaching. Get started with this list of things you should plan to pack, things you should definitely leave behind and tips to beat the heat and perform your best. Pack it! Cheer Bag • Sunglasses • Sunblock with an SPF of at least 15, and aloe vera • Chapstick or lip balm • A reusable water bottle • Snacks (nothing that will melt!) • Bug spray • A notebook and pen for notes and information • Any medications or pain relievers you may need • A hat • A camera © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. 6 Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful Cheer Gear • Your team uniform • Accessories (hairbows, poms, glitter makeup) • Camp and practice wear • Socks and shoes • Sports bras Don’t forget extra clothes, socks and footwear; for casual hanging out, sleeping or special events. Cheer Room • Bedding • A book or magazine • Board games • A small, portable fan • Alarm clock • Towels, robe and toiletries Don’t forget flip flops for showering, and plenty of hair ties! Leave it! • Bad attitudes! • Valuables • Jewelry Bond without burning! Don’t underestimate the summer sun! Keep yourself from getting sunburnt – which will hurt bad and make you feel even worse! Bring plenty of sunscreen, which you should apply at least 15 minutes before heading outside and reapply every two hours. Try to take a © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. break from the sun every half hour or so, even if it just means moving into the shade for a few minutes. Sweat without dehydrating! Camp is known for its vigorous physical activities, which means you’ll be sweating and in the hot sun! Don’t wait until you are thirsty to hydrate, drink a lot and drink often. Get cheer exhaustion, not heat exhaustion! Heat exhaustion will make you feel overheated, tired and weak and the symptoms could last for days. Not only will this ruin your camp experience, but it simply isn’t good for your body. Be aware that the effects of heat exhaustion can appear suddenly, and can cause you to collapse. Not only for your health and safety, but also for the safety of your teammates that are counting on your strength, be vocal if you even start to feel overheated. Get out of the heat, fill up on liquids and rest for a few minutes. Snack right! Try to stay away from foods that drinks that are known to dehydrate like snacks high in salt and sugar, and drinks like tea, soda and coffee. Limit your snack stash to hydrating foods to stay healthy and focused. 7 Cheer Camp: How To Prepare And Be Successful Keep The Spirit of Camp Alive All Season Cheerleading squads spend several months planning and executing fundraising activities for camp, and then dedicate themselves for a week or more to learning as much as they can. So now that camp is ending, what’s next? A squad can and should keep their new and perfected cheer (and life!) skills fresh so they can apply them to their season, and pass them along to future squad members. Here are just a few ways to keep camp spirit alive! • Do a visual comparison. Before attending camp, record your squad performing a routine. Spend some time evaluating the performance and taking notes. Record another version of the same routine after your team attends camp. Compare the two videos with your team and point out areas where they have improved. Sometimes a person’s achievements will really sink in when they can get a visual on them! • Recognize your team’s achievements. Most camps will have a competition and awards ceremony, but go above and beyond that to recognize your team’s successes and encourage them to have the best year they can! Create your own certificates of achievement, based on the unique members of your squad, and surprise your team after camp with a ceremony. Or, just take some time at the next practice or meeting to recap the successes of each team member. Send a recap of your team’s experience to local news, and secure a feature in your school’s newspaper. • Create a cheer book. But take it to the next level! Have the captain take all the squad member’s notes and create one big package of lessons, quotes, inspiration, motivation and photos. You can have one team copy printed, and if you have the funds you can print a book for each squad member. • Expand camp’s team building. Have a team meeting and let each team member have the floor for a few minutes to talk about what they learned. You can even give them specific topics to talk about (such as: What was your favorite moment? What did you learn about yourself? How do you think you will be a better team mate now?). Strive to make this a sharing/ teaching/ learning event. One team member may have learned something that another didn’t, so it is really important to recap! • Relive camp! Before your first game, turn one of your practices into a camp clinic to refresh the best from camp, like safety lessons, technique tips and teamwork. © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. 8 Cheerleading blog Cheerleading blog © 2012 CheerleadingUniformsBlog.com. All rights reserved. Scan now to access more cheerleading resources!
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