Thursday, April 4, 2013

Don't Forget the Sunscreen!

Preparing for Cheer Camp

You have done the paperwork, hosted tryouts and selected a team.  You have ordered uniforms and started fundraising… Now What?  For most cheer squads, summer is time to attend cheer camp! 2, 3 or four days of sweltering heat and loud, screaming cheerleaders!!  YAY! 

There are MANY different types of camps you can participate in:
  • Private Camps - Where a staff will come to you and work directly with your squad for 2-4 days and focus on your squads specific needs.
  • Commuter Camps - This is usually in your town, or close to it and you go for a few hours a day and go home each night. 
  •  Overnight Camps – These are usually held at a college and are typically all-inclusive.  You stay in dorms, eat at the cafeteria on campus and have classes from 9am to 7pm. 
  •  Resort camps - These are very much like the overnight camps, but you get down time to hang out on the beach, pool, or theme park depending on where you have chosen to go.

Once you have decided on camp, there is still a list of things that you should do with your team to make your camp experience the best it can be. 

First, have a team meeting and go over the expectations of the camp you have chosen.  Let them know what the hours will be and where they will need to be each day.  Take time to review the daily schedules, the classes offered, the awards and how to earn them.  Discuss team and individual goals and what your expectations are of them from a coaching and school standpoint. 

If you are attending a commuter camp or hosting a private camp, discuss travel and meeting times.  You will also be responsible for your own food, so plan accordingly.  Make sure they know to bring money or a lunch. 

Plan what you will wear each day.  It is usually not required, but easier to identify your team if they are dressed alike.  Most squads go with matching shirts and shorts.  Some teams go all out and have custom shirts, shorts, bows and sometimes matching socks.  Just make sure that your team knows what the dress code and team expectations are for what to wear.

It might be a good idea to meet a few times and practice all together before you attend your camp.  It will make team bonding easier if the girls already have an idea of the team dynamic.  Camp is not the time to discover that Suzie and Sally have hated each other since kindergarten and now the camp staff wants them to stunt together.  Take the time to do some team bonding games, get to know you games, etc.  It will pay off in the end. 

Learning cheers and chants together BEFORE you go to camp is helpful too.  It will show you who your strongest cheerleaders are and who can help the newer or less experienced teammates.

Physically you should introduce them to the skills and drills that they will see at camp as well. 
  • Make sure that they under stand what a warm-up is and how to stretch. 
  •  Work on basic motions and jumps and know the terminology of these skills. 
  •  Have them work on some conditioning skills and calisthenics so that their bodies are ready for the stresses of camp. 
  •  Have them work on the basic core stunts.  Climbing drills, weight transfer and strength.  Doing this will allow them to move quicker in the stunt classes and help them learn more during your camp time.

Know your camp. 
If you are attending a camp that offers a home cheer or dance evaluation make sure that you put something together and are not just sitting around while other teams are performing. 

Look at the class list.  If your camp offers Captains Classes, make sure that you have elected captains or have determined who will attend.  You do not want your team missing information offered in these classes.  You may also want to divide your team up when they get there.  If you have some great dancers send them to a dance class while a stunt group goes to the basket toss class.  You will get the most out of what is offered and come back and teach each other.

As a coach, there are things that YOU should be prepared for as well. 
Make sure you do all your paperwork.  Fill out the registration forms and get the medical release forms to your team.  Know when the fees and medical releases are due.  If you do not receive a confirmation packet from your camp director, make sure that you contact them. 

Most of the time coaches sit around and watch the staff teach.  Make sure that you bring something comfortable to sit on and something to read or do.  Seven hours in the bleachers can make for sore bodies! 

Don’t forget the first aid kit! Some camps have a trainer on site, but just in case bring yours.  Make sure you have a good supply of band-aids, ice packs, Tylenol (check with parents first), girly supplies and athletic tape.  I usually pack extra granola bars, contact lens cases and fluid, scissors and sunscreen.

Camp can be the highlight of your summer, or its demise.  Teach your kids how to stay patient and learn as much as they can.  It will be hot, they will get frustrated and they will be tired and sore.  However, they will also learn enough for the whole season, make good friends and be able to support their school in new and exciting ways if they make it fun.


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