Now that school is nearly out and summer is upon us, it’s time to start thinking ahead and planning for cheer camp. As exciting as cheer camp sounds–I mean, who isn’t excited to get away from their parents for a summer retreat for days with their BFFs!??–one aspect you need to consider is staying safe. I know, I know–how dangerous can cheer camp possibly be, right? Nothing sounds better than spending long, warm summer days with your closest friends, and even meeting and building new friendships with others. Cheer camp, for me, was always a breath of fresh air: you get to meet new cheerleaders who share your same interests as you, see some familiar faces, and work on perfecting your cheers, routines, tumbling, stunts, etc. My experience attending cheer camp was like the kickoff to my summer. As fun and amazing as all this sounds, there are still some important factors that you NEED to be aware of, like:

1. WATER
: One of the most important things that you must not forget is to stay hydrated.  The last thing you want to experience at camp is dehydration! Trust me, I’ve been there. And, once you’ve become dehydrated, it is difficult to overcome. Heatstroke is also a concern, and the best way to prevent that is taking enough water breaks in between activities. So, drinking plenty of water throughout your stay at camp it very important. Always have a water bottle on hand, and remember to occasionally take some sips even if you’re not thirsty.

2. SUNSCREEN
: Next to water, sunscreen–without a doubt–is very important, as well. Lathering up on that sunscreen will not only save you from burning, but will also combat sun damage. When selecting a sunscreen, purchase one with an SPF of 15 or higher; you should also select broad-spectrum or full-spectrum sunscreen, as it is designed to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Even though it may seem like a chore now, trust me, you’ll be glad you wore that sunscreen at camp later on down the road. Wearing sunscreen not only keeps the wrinkles away, but also keeps you youthful-looking in the years to come.

3. FOCUS
: As easy as it is to get caught up in all the excitement of being at camp, staying focused on the task at hand is key. Paying attention and practicing good listening skills are not only important for learning new routines and cheers, but also absolutely necessary when performing stunts or tumbling. Most injuries in cheerleading happen while performing stunts or tumbling routines. The last thing you want to happen is someone getting dropped and seriously injuring themselves because you weren’t focused! Remember: your fellow teammates are counting on you, and are putting their trust in your hands–literally. If you find yourself getting caught up in all the fun and excitement, remember to STOP, LISTEN, and always ABIDE by the rules.

4. THE BUDDY SYSTEM:
Last, but not least, always use the buddy system. Many of us have learned this system at a very young age: never go anywhere alone, and always let your camp counselor or coach know where you are going ahead of time. This will not only help your coaches and counselors keep track of where you are, but if something happens, like an injury, your coaches will notice and your ‘buddy’ will be able to assist you in getting the help you need.

In what other ways have you stayed safe at camp? Do you have any more tips for first-time cheer camp-goers? Let us know in the comments!