The new cheer season is right around the corner, and the bright sun and high summer temps can only mean one thing—CAMP! Cheer camp is one of the first times together for many teams. And with a new team comes new goals, new skills, new people and new experiences. It might be a little intimidating, but AC has your back! Follow our tips and make this year’s camp experience your best one yet!

1. Be a sponge

If you’re a freshman on a new squad, camp can be both exciting and scary. Take note of what the upper classmen are doing and how they are acting. A cheerleader has a major role as an ambassador of good will for his/her school. That’s not an easy role for anyone, but your best resource is to learn from your veteran teammates. Act as a sponge. Yes, that’s right; you should absorb everything you possibly can when you first join a team.

2. Understand your role

A new season also means new roles within the team. Last year’s freshmen now have a year of experience under their belt as sophomores, and last year’s juniors are the new seniors. Positions will change, and regardless of what your former role was or your new role will be, it is important to be able to adapt.

How should you know what to expect? Your coach is the best person to let you know what your new role will be within the squad. If you still have questions, don’t be afraid to ask former team members for advice on how to approach your new position.

Also, remember to welcome new freshmen to the squad. You were a freshman not too long ago and can probably remember how nerve-racking it was, so help out your new teammates and make them feel comfortable.

3. Meet other teams

Once you get to camp, the thrill of your first stunt class and the rush to show off the new skills you developed over the summer can be overwhelming. But don’t forget to take the time during those much needed water breaks to say hello to members of other squads. As big as cheerleading is, it’s still a small world and the odds are great that you will run into many of these people again. Making friends with other teams also gives you another source for ideas during the year, such as stunting tricks, pep-rally themes and team bonding ideas. Remember, you are always representing your school, and that includes at camp. Be friendly to everyone and show them your school spirit!

4. Show your team lots of love

With the constant hustle and bustle of camp, it’s easy to let those long days take their toll and drain all of your energy. Make sure you devote some of that time and energy to getting to know your teammates better.

The staff at camp will offer plenty of team building exercises, but you should also spend some time bonding outside of camp classes. If you’re away at camp, play a fun game in the dorm/hotel room before bed. If you’re camp is at home, dress up and go out to dinner as a squad. Create a team Instagram account and post photos of your team at camp.

The year ahead will be much easier if you enjoy the people you cheer with. You never know, you may meet your new best friend this summer!

5. Don’t be afraid to fail

Michal Jordan once said, “I failed time and time again, and that is why I succeed.” In other words, don’t be afraid to try, and definitely don’t be afraid to fail!

Starting a new season is always exciting. The new year brings with it new possibilities, and it’s easy to have to high expectation early on. The most successful teams accomplish their goals by being vigilant through their hardships. They are the best because they have failed, learned from it and tried again. Don’t let those early bumps in the road get your team down, and do not give up! Learn how to persevere through the difficult times and you will be stronger at the end.

Camp can be a great time of the year and it can also be a very stressful time. It is a time to lay the foundation for the rest of your year to be built upon. You want to start your season off strong, so approach camp and your new squad with a positive attitude. Learn new skills. Make new friends. Showcase your talent. And above all, learn how to work as a team and function as a cohesive unit so that your squad can maintain success long after camp has ended.