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Cheer Clinics and Day Camps

Putting on a cheer clinic or day camp takes planning and effort but can be a rewarding experience for your team as well as those attending. Here are 10 practical steps:

1. Define your overall, broad goals
To begin, take time to delineate your goals. Is this a fundraiser for the squad? Is it to give younger ones a taste of cheer? Is it to attract interest in your squad for upcoming tryouts? Is it to focus on specific skills, such as stunts or dance, for those who are cheerleaders? Determine if you are going to run a beginners level, an intermediate level, and/or an advanced level.

2. Determine your target group
Steps 1 and 2 go hand in hand. If you are doing a clinic for your squad or another specific squad this step is easy. If it is for a fundraiser and you are not a school squad that has a readily available target group, consider approaching after-school day care groups about putting on a cheer clinic. Many after-school programs offer a variety of special enrichment programs or classes that parents pay additional fees for their child to attend.
If you are going to offer a clinic and open it to a number of squads in the area, you’ll want to start forming a list with names and addresses. If you are going to offer it to attract interest for tryouts later in the year or for younger ones, you may need to do more work in determining where to advertise and how.

3. Set specific goals based on your overall goals and target group
If this is for a specific squad, possible goals should be discussed with the team’s coach. Be sure to understand the needs of the team and expectations of the coach and team. If the expectations seem too high for the time available, clearly communicate your concerns and suggest first steps or a progression of steps towards their goals. If the clinic is to create future interest in your squad, you may want to plan time for attendees and members of your present squad to get to know each other through some fun games. If it is to give younger ones a taste of cheer, will there be an exhibition performance at the end and/or will the attendees help cheer at a game if you have a school squad?

4. Determine where to hold the clinic and set your dates and time
Not all clinics have to be in a gym or multipurpose room. In Southern California, successful after-school clinics and day camps have been held outdoors. Wherever you choose to do a clinic remember to consider and address safety issues. Do you need mats? Do you need your own first aid kit? Also be sure to consider medical coverage and releases. If doing this as part of as a specific squad or an after-school or day-care activity, can the medical releases on file be used? If it is part of gym facility, will parents need to file out a specific form or forms from the gym?
Day camps for girls to get a taste of cheer seems to work best if held for a half day unless you plan other activities (such as swimming, bowling, etc) for the afternoon. Clinics for a squad working on specific skills can be half or full day, but if doing full day allow at least an hour for lunch to eat and rest.

5. Set fees
. If fees are involved, carefully budget to cover costs and any profit margin. When doing weeklong day camps for younger girls to get a taste of cheer, we have found it works well to include a skort and embroidered shirt. For after school clinics, consider providing inexpensive poms or silk-screen tee shirts. Budget in any snacks being provided. Do you have any rental fees or coaching fees to pay?
If you are not sure what going prices are for clinics and day camps in you geographic area, ask around. In addition to other cheer coaches, check with coaches of other sports, school administrators, and/or day care providers.

6. Advertise and Register
If this is for a fundraiser, advertising will probably be critical. Creating a one page flyer that combines key information about the clinic, tear-off registration form, and tear-off medical release form (if participants are not covered by a pre-existing medical release form) seems to work best, even if you go to an 11”x17” paper. Always include a phone number for more information. If you are part of a school or gym, be sure to clarify with the business office how checks should be made out and how monies are to be dealt with.

7. Get organized
Plan the activities and what you need for the activities, including getting music, words to cheer or sidelines, choreographing a dance or cheer, video camera and monitor if you want to tape and show back, etc. Be sure that all the coaches, captains, and others helping know what they are responsible for.

8. Don’t forget the little things, but big issues
Are you having snacks and/or lunch? If you are doing a day camp plan for healthy snacks as well as having water available. If you are doing an after-school clinic where snack is not part of the regular program consider providing snack or state on the flyer that participates can bring a snack to eat before the clinic begins. You can suggest participants bring water bottles to any clinic or day camp but also be sure to have water available for those who don’t bring a water bottle.
Do you need nametags? Do you have some fun games, chants, and/or jokes to use? Do you want to have certificates of completion? (Certificates can be easily made on the computer.) If the participants are going to cheer at a game, do you need an additional flyer with game information (place, time, etc)? When younger girls do a weeklong day camp in August with our squad they are invited to cheer at the first home football game. (They cheer 2nd quarter and the halftime routine.) We arrange with the school’s athletic booster club to provide the families of these day camp cheerleaders with free passes to the game.
Do you need additional adult volunteer help, especially for first day check-in and snack time?

9. Do the clinic or day camp
Now it’s time to run the clinic or camp. Remember to stay flexible and make adjustments as needed. Have fun with it, even hard work can be fun.

10. Follow-up
The clinic is over but there is some final tasks. Evaluate how it went. What worked really well? What did the participants like? What needs changed for next time? What needs some fine-tuning next time?
Arrange for payment of any outstanding bills.
Be sure to thank people who helped.

With some planning and organization, your experience doing clinics and day camps can be positive for all involved.

Shiela Wolford
Maranatha High School Cheer
Pasadena, CA