Cheering for Christ

By: Heather Pickrell

Originally Published: February 8, 2013

On January 28, 29, and 31, the elementary students of Temple Christian School assembled for the start of Cheer Camp 2013. Cheer Camp is a place where the younger students of Temple Christian can come and learn the basics of cheerleading.

“Cheer Camp has been going on since the 1999-2000 basketball season,” said Mrs. Sutton, varsity cheerleading coach. “We started out as a Saturday-only camp with the girls performing that night at a varsity game. It went over so well with the young girls that the next year we made it a week-long camp with the performance as the “finale” at the Friday night basketball games.”

Cheer Camp starts on a Monday, and it begins after school and ends at 5 p.m. The girls come on Tuesday and Thursday as well for the same period of time. The finale is a performance at halftime of a varsity game, which is usually on a Friday since the crowds are the largest then.

“When it was first started,” continued Mrs. Sutton, “we looked at it as an opportunity to train the young girls on their cheerleading skills, since there weren’t other places to work on the skills needed to try out in junior high. It’s evolved into something that the girls look forward to each year, not only to work on their skills, but to have fun and grow closer to classmates.”

“I like learning about how you cheer,” exclaimed Emma White, one of the girls who attended Cheer Camp. She has been going to the camp for four years now with her friend, Ellie Clevenger.

“At cheer camp, the girls learn a lot of chants, cheers, and this year the older group also learned a routine,” Mrs. Sutton said. “Plus, they learn the fundamentals of cheerleading, from motion placement to jump technique. The girls usually have a full group session at the beginning and end of each night of camp.  [During] the opening session, we have snacks, a brief devotional, and learn a chant or two each day. Then for the bulk of camp, they are divided by age group to ensure the material is age appropriate and rotate rooms [for] jumps, motions, and aerobics. In the jump room, they learn the basic techniques of the five major cheerleading jumps and then also do silly jumps that include things like a “genie” jump. In the motions room, they learn all the motions used in cheerleading, and they work on their cheer for the Friday performance. In the aerobics room, they play games and get to run and have a brief ‘workout’.”

“My favorite part was sassy aerobics because it’s fun,” Ellie Clevenger, one of the Cheer Camp students, stated.

“Personally,” Mrs. Sutton continued, “I think cheer camp is a really great opportunity for the high school and junior high to connect with the elementary. It’s super important for the young girls to have role models that they can relate to, and I really think we all strive to accomplish that. I also think it’s great for the cheerleading program because it gets the girls excited about cheerleading from a young age, and if they come every year, by the time they are 5th or 6th grade they know the fundamentals extremely well. At the end of the day, I think it’s a great opportunity to build relationships and the program.”

Most of the girls who attend the camp when they are older become cheerleaders when they are in high school. Mrs. Sutton commented on this statement saying, “I think a lot of the girls who go to camp end up becoming cheerleaders, especially in the upper grades, because they are really starting to be interested in becoming involved and working on their skills. In the younger grades usually everyone comes, so it’s somewhat hard to tell if they will actually want to try out later on. But all of the current high school and junior high cheerleaders that went to Temple in elementary came to cheer camp as elementary students, so there is definitely a connection between the two.”

All in all, Cheer Camp is a great and positive experience for young elementary girls to bond and learn the basics of cheerleading. The girls learn many helpful things that will benefit their lives as they grow.  They also are blessed by being around older followers of Christ who set a great example for the young girls.