For many cheer teams around the nation summer camp marks the official beginning of the cheer season. There are thousands of cheer camps held annually and some are designed to meet very specific needs, so it is important to be informed about your options in order to select the camp that will best meet your team’s needs.
The first step in selecting a cheer camp should always be assessing your team’s skills and needs. Below are some questions to consider when conducting this evaluation:
1. Do I want my team to travel to camp?
2. If we stay overnight at camp will I need additional chaperones?
3. Do I intend on learning material for the season at camp and if so what is most important?
4. Am I looking for a team bonding experience?
5. Do I want my cheerleaders to have the opportunity for individual recognition?
6. Am I using camp to prepare for competition?
7. Are tumbling and stunting skills something I want covered at camp?
8. How much can I afford to spend on camp?
Do I want my team to Travel to Camp? Will I need chaperones?
Determining whether you will take part in a local camp where your cheerleaders are able to commute daily versus traveling to camp and staying overnight is a big decision when choosing the best camp for your team. Many people believe traveling to a camp away from home and staying overnight creates a very unique environment that encourages team bonding and often results in leaders emerging on your squad. But if opting to travel to camp, be sure to take in consideration the responsibility associated with overnight camp. Depending on the size of your squad you may be required to bring along additional chaperones. This could result in paying more for camp registration. The additional chaperones typically will not be charged a participation fee, but must pay to cover their room and board. Remember to also consider any medical conditions that your team members may have. It is important to be equipped to handle medical issues that could arise. When conducting your camp research be sure to find out whether or not medical staff will be on site in case of emergencies, especially at overnight camp.
Do I intend on learning material for the season at camp and if so, what is most important?
Summer camp provides a great opportunity to jump start your season. After assessing your squad’s needs, as well as your strengths and weaknesses as a coach you should be able to better narrow down the type of camp you’d like to attend. If you are looking for cheers, chants and dances a more generalized camp would most likely suit your team best. As stated previously, camps come in all shapes and sizes. You can attend a generalized camp that will provide you will a well-rounded wealth of material or a specialized camp. Specialized camps are available to focus on stunting, tumbling, dance, or even competition routines. Knowing what area your squad may need the most assistance in will make this decision easier. There are also many companies that will host private camps. These types of camps provide an intimate atmosphere that can be catered to your squads needs specifically.
Am I looking for a team bonding experience?
If you are looking for spirit days and after camp bonding times a generalized camp may be your answer. When you opt for private camps or specialized camps this aspect is often removed or reduced to provide for more instruction time. But don’t fret if you’d like to have the best of both worlds, you can always organize your own team bonding activities afterwards if you’d prefer a private or specialized camp.
Do I want my cheerleaders to have the opportunity for individual recognition?
Many camps offer the opportunity for individuals to receive awards and recognition. For many teams, this is a main reason they attend camp. These opportunities typically come in two forms. Often times, individuals are given the opportunity to strut their stuff by performing an individual routine or showing off their skills (jumping, tumbling, dancing, stunting) in a non-routine format. The camp instructors are typically the judges and will then award recognition to those who have met their standards. The second format is through observation by the camp instructors. In this format, during the camp instructors are watching for leadership, sportsmanship, exceptional talent and spirit. The recognition can range from an award at the end of camp to an invitation to travel with the company or an invitation to become a staff member with the camp company upon graduation. There are several camp companies that offer invitations to perform in events like the Macy’s Day Parade and the NFL Pro Bowl.
Am I using camp to prepare for competition?
If competition is high on your list then a choreography camp may be best for your squad. This type of camp will help you to design a competition routine that will best display your team’s talent. Another point to consider if competition is a high priority is attending a camp hosted by the competition company that will host your most important competition. This gives you the opportunity to hear tips and pointers directly from their staff. It also allows you the opportunity to ask questions and get an idea of what they are looking for, as each competition company differs. Additionally, you may also have the chance to earn a bid to competition through camp.
Are tumbling and stunting skills something I want covered at camp?
Generalized camps will sometimes include stunting and tumbling, but if these are skills that you definitely want covered be sure to ask questions and investigate the level that these skills will be taught at and how many instructors will be on hand to assist. Specialized and private camps boast the ability to have more of a one on one feel which is always more comfortable when learning skills like stunting and tumbling. Safety must always remain at the forefront so be sure, no matter what type of camp you choose that the skill level matches your squad’s ability level. Both stunting and tumbling are areas where it is crucial to master the basics before continuing on to more advanced level skills. Progressing to advanced level skills without a strong foundation in the basics is an easy way to cement bad habits and a quick way to cause injury. On the other hand, you don’t want to waste the time that you’ve paid for… so if a camp outlines that they will be teaching beginner level skills and your squad is at an advanced level you may want to seek other options.
How much can I afford to spend on camp?
It is a fact that our economy has suffered greatly in the last few years and to some going to camp may now seem more like a luxury than a necessity. Be sure to select a camp that is financially realistic for your team. You want to avoid isolating individuals who may not be able to afford camp. Also keep in mind, there are usually price breaks for early registration. Finally, don’t forget good old fashioned fund raising. Check out The Cheerleading Company’s incredible fundraising opportunities here. Keep in mind that camp usually has a number of fees associated with it besides the registration. When creating your budget for camp consider camp clothes, housing, food, transportation, and any spirit items that may be required.
The Cheerleading Company can keep you stylish at camp for a great price! Take a peak at our 2011 Camp Pax here.
Cheer camps are a wonderful opportunity to enhance your team’s skills, increase your material for the season and also a great way to encourage team bonding. Selecting the right camp is important in ensuring a positive camp experience, so be sure to consider all the above questions when selecting a camp. Camps book quickly so when your decision is made register as soon as possible.