Your anticipation for cheer camp is at an all-time peak, and it’s about time to board that bus with your team heading out of town. You’ve looked forward to this excursion all season, and you can’t wait to ditch your parents for a while as you excel in your cheerleading skills. The sun is shining, your mind is buzzing with big dreams, but before you know it, camp will have come and gone and you’ll be returning home. Hopefully, you’ve made the most of your time there! If cheerleaders don’t plan accordingly, a lot return home sour that they didn’t learn as much as they thought they would, or they can’t recall what they learned, or that it all just flew by too fast. With all of this in mind, there are certain steps to take in order to take advantage of all that cheer camp has to offer, as well as return home from camp happy.

Set realistic, attainable goals.
Yes, you want to be the best cheerleader ever in existence, but that’s not going to happen overnight–if at all! Not everyone can be the best! However, with goals in mind, you can accomplish huge breakthroughs in your cheering while at camp. You’re going to be doing a lot of motions, tucks, tumbles, and jumps which don’t involve your teammates; since they don’t rely on others to be at the level you want to be, these are the areas that you should personally set benchmarks for. Even though you should try to improve your stunting while you’re there, if you only set stunt goals for yourself at camp, you might be highly disappointed if your teammates don’t live up to your expectations. Set realistic goals, and write them down in detail before you arrive at camp. Detail all of the small steps you need to take in order to achieve this goal. After everything is spelled out in front of you, it’s only a matter of you checking off what you accomplish as you do it!

Take care of yourself.
It’s easy to get carried away at camp, and overdo it. You might have the urge to gorge yourself with junk food every night after a full day’s practice, which isn’t what your body needs! You need to fuel yourself with a balanced diet if you want to be able to perform correctly the next day. Also, bunking with your team every night provides an overwhelming temptation to stay up late, and have fun away from home. Although team-bonding is important at camp, you have to draw the line for your health’s sake. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, to get a full eight hours of sleep. You’re doing extreme exercise every day, after all! And, that’s another thing: with all this exercise (especially mixed with the high temperatures of summer), you have to hydrate! Water is your best friend at camp, no matter how close to your cheer besty you are. Try to drink three times your body weight in ounces every day, and sip some water even if you don’t think you need it. You probably do. Lastly, with the sun shining, combine hydrating with the ample application of sunblock every few hours. Your skin may be looking good with a summer tan now, but harmful rays from the sun without any sunscreen will lead to gross, leathery, diseased skin later. Nobody has time for that!

Have some fun, too.
The bottom line to remember is that cheer camp is to take seriously, but also have a lot of fun. Build lasting memories without taking everything too seriously. So, what if you didn’t hit that stunt the entire time? You have plenty of time to work on it once you return home. Can’t remember some of the routine? Don’t beat yourself up: ask your teammates, they might have the missing piece of the puzzle!

What other things can you keep in mind at cheer camp to make you return home happy? Share your story in the comments below!