It’s that time of year again! Cheer camp is an exciting beginning to an awesome season. It’s a time for working hard, but also a time to create new memories. Make your experience one to remember with these five camp must-dos.

1. Get to know your teammates.
Cheer camp is the kickoff to your season. Whether you’re new to the team or a returning member, each year brings new faces and new personalities. Bonds need to be established early in order to set the tone for a successful season. Camp is the perfect opportunity to create these bonds! One night during camp, my squad has a “team talk” where we get to know each other a little better. Try it!

2. Interact with other squads.
There will be many teams at camp. It’s always a great idea to talk to squads you might see at games or competitions later in the year. It’s nice to have another team rooting for you, and it’s just as nice to be able to return the favor. Bring an extra team t-shirt to camp and swap it with someone from another squad. I always have fun collecting shirts and seeing other teams rock our school colors.

3. Try new things.
Going into camp, your team may already have a general idea of what type of stunts you want to achieve by competition season. But always keep an open mind. Every year the instructors teach new, innovative stunts that are definitely worth trying. There are so many great skills to learn; you never know what could end up working for your team.

4. Listen to your instructors.
After the second day of camp, you’ll probably be exhausted from all that cheering. This may make it harder to execute new skills, or maybe your team just isn’t ready to take on those stunts yet. If there’s information you want to remember (and there will be!), bring your instructors’ advice back home with you. Have your coach write down important points or record specific skills so that when you’re ready, you will be able to practice them using proper technique.

5. Have fun!
It seems obvious, but sometimes we become too focused on perfecting a dance or hitting a stunt that we forget the most important thing – having fun! There are so many ways to enjoy your camp experience; playing games, holding a talent show or dressing up for a themed event are just a few ideas. Try not to become frustrated if you can’t hit a skill. Take a water break and a deep breath, and come back with patience. At the end of the day, remember why you cheer – because it’s fun!

by: Madeline Kentner, as seen in the summer 2015 issue of American Cheerleader