By Jessica Spitale
Your roommate’s been up all night crying, you pulled a hamstring during jump class and you just don’t think you can make it through another day. From strained muscles to strained relationships, camp is full of drama, but if you think you and your team are the only ones who face adversity during cheer camp—think again! Read on to hear how cheerleaders across the country dealt with their own camp-tastrophies and ended up with memories to last a lifetime.
Situation #1: LIGHTS OUT
Callie Frey’s drama popped up when the sun went down—in the form of a fast-snoozing roommate and a bit of insomnia. “Because there was no TV, I couldn’t fall asleep for anything! And my roommate passed out the second she hit the pillow, so I felt all alone,” says the seventh-grade cheerleader from Saint Catherine of Siena in Metairie, LA.
SOLUTION: As captain of her squad, Callie knew that being exhausted the next day wasn’t an option. “The second night, I turned on my iPod, which helped me relax,” says Callie. “Also, if you have a stuffed animal you sleep with at home, make sure to bring it with you. You and your roommate can even push your beds together. And lastly, bring a nightlight. The dorms can be pitch black at night.”
Dorms can be a scary place if it’s your first time at camp, so bring objects that act as a security blanket and give you the sense of comfort you have when you’re at home in your own bed. Also remember that when you’re sharing a room with others, it means that everyone will most likely have different sleeping habits. Try to come up with an arrangement that works for both of you. If your roommate likes it quiet when she sleeps, but you need noise, do what Callie did and reach for your headphones. If you like it pitch black, but your roomie likes a little light when she’s nodding off, bring along a sleep mask. Whatever your drama, these easy tips will help you catch ZZZs in no time!
Situation #2: FIGHT CLUB
Ding, ding, ding! The fighting’s begun, and you just don’t know if your cheer team will make it out of camp intact. For Elizabeth Peterson, now a senior at Arlington Heights HS in Fort Worth, TX, her sophomore year was full of feuds. That year, Elizabeth was captain of the JV squad and her team attended camp at the University of Texas at Austin. “On the last day of camp, a tradition contest was being held for teams to show off what they did at games and pep rallies. So, the night before the big competition, the JV team got together to learn the fight song from the varsity squad,” says Elizabeth. “People were getting stressed and many started to change their minds about performing all together.”
SOLUTION: The day after the drama, Elizabeth and her teammates performed and won the contest, taking home a trophy and the chance to see the University of Texas’ cheerleaders and pom squad in person at their next pep rally! “It was really cool that we got to do that for our school. It definitely brought a ton of spirit and excitement to the student body,” says Elizabeth.
Elizabeth believes that, had her team given up, they never would’ve been given that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But they persevered through the stress and turned a difficult situation into a positive experience. If your squad’s bickering, remind everyone to keep the big picture in mind. For most teams, camp is your first time coming together as a solid squad—and there are sure to be a few growing pains. But be patient and keep the “good of the team” mentality at the forefront of your mind. Before long, you’ll all adjust to the different personalities and learn how to handle any situation that pops up.
Situation #3: DON’T BE A PAIN
Your squad’s not the only one struggling with aches and pains? Azby Farnet, a senior on Brother Martin HS’s Large Coed team in New Orleans, LA, broke his hand before he even got to camp. He’d been injured while playing rugby, which was actually against the coaches’ rules. “The coaches were on me pretty hard about it and I knew I deserved it,” says Azby.
SOLUTION: “I tried my hardest to keep my complaining to a minimum. I knew the new guys needed someone to look up to and camp had to go on whether my hand was hurt or not,” says Azby. Because of the intense nature of camp, athletes are bound to get a few bruises, sore muscles or a sunburn. But even if there are a multitude of reasons why you may feel like packing your bags and heading home, don’t!
If you’re dealing with minor soreness and get the go-ahead from the trainer, consider waiting it out and staying until the end of camp. And if your situation is more severe, there are still ways you can show up for your squad while still taking it easy on your body: Offer to videotape all the curriculum sessions (if you’re allowed to), help your coach keep track of your teammates and give squad members pep talks when they need it. Bottom line: Even if you’re not feeling 100 percent, it doesn’t mean you can’t give it.
Situation #4: SURPRISE!
Ever heard of Murphy’s Law? It says that “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” And although we’re not quite as pessimistic (we are cheerleaders, after all), we’ve come to the conclusion that as a camper, you should expect the unexpected. Houston MS cheerleader Katie Gaushell from Houston, TX, never thought they’d be dealing with ticks at camp, but that’s exactly what happened. “We went hiking through the woods to participate in a ropes course and there were tons of ticks falling off the leaves,” says Katie. “The worst part was that they were everywhere!”
SOLUTION: The reason camp is such an extreme experience for cheerleaders is because you can’t always control your environment, and you never know what’s going to happen next. What you can control is the way you react to the drama. When faced with the tick situation, Katie’s team continued with camp, worked together to make lasting memories and built a team bond that held up throughout the rest of the year.
If (and when) your team hits a snag in its plans, try to take it in stride. Be ready for anything and keep your expectations in check. Let your coach deal with the big drama-rama so you can focus on the things that are most important: your team and having a great time!
No matter what happens, camp will teach you the true meaning of the word teamwork. So, start your summer off with a positive attitude, an open mind and your favorite teddy bear (just in case!).