We often say that cheerleading camp is all about team bonding and hard-core learning. While spirit and hard work are two major aspects of cheer camp, we can’t stress enough that safety should be a priority of equal measure. Parents, coaches, and cheerleaders can all play a role in cheering and teaching safely. Here are just a few ways to stay safe at camp: Parents If you’re worried about the teaching aspect, ask the team coach and his/her credentials. Some coaches receive special training in safety, like CPR. You may feel more at ease if you learn that your coach is well-equipped in first aid. If he or she isn’t, don’t automatically assume your cheerleader won’t be safe at camp. Instead, talk with the coach about what his/her plans are for maintaining safety and whether or not a first aid professional will be on-site or readily available. Coaches When booking a camp location, ask about the equipment and any resources your team will be using, like mats. Ask how recently upgraded the equipment was and, if possible, check in-person for yourself. You should also ask whether or not there are first aid supplies on-site. If not, make sure you pack your own. Some camp locations may even have a nurse or safety-trained individual on staff to assist with any emergencies. If your camp doesn’t have a trained member, make sure you know basic first aid, including CPR. There are courses available at local community colleges and hospitals. When teaching at camp, don’t jump into advanced stunts. Instead, slowly progress from the most basic motions and encourage your cheerleaders to speak up immediately if they don’t feel comfortable trying something or are confused about the steps. Also, don’t forget to re-check the equipment before teaching each day. Something small, like a pebble, could have somehow found its way onto the mat and cause an injury. Cheerleaders By making your safety a priority, you’re making sure you’re at your healthiest and strongest. Injuring yourself at cheer camp can set you up for a lot of problems during fall. Cheer camp is intensive, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re falling behind or having trouble. While you may feel extra sweaty or exhausted, you shouldn’t push on if you start feeling dizzy or nauseous. Summer is a hot season and, when combined with extreme physical exercise and dehydration, it can cause heat stroke, fainting, or worse. If you start feeling dizzy or nauseous, speak up and tell your coach. Take a moment to sit in some shade and drink water. If you think you’re hungry, eat a snack. No matter how fit you are, you’ll likely feel sore during camp. But don’t mistake soreness for a pulled muscle or other injury If your whole body feels slightly tight, you’re most likely sore. However, if you feel any shooting, sharp pain, take it easy. Talk about it with your coach and he/she can help you determine whether you’ve injured yourself or are just sore. The worst thing you can do is push through an injury; it will only make it worse! By making safety a priority at camp, your team can push themselves without risking injuries. A cheer team should be healthy and fit when going into the fall season. By taking a little extra time to set safety measures in place, you can avoid injuries big and small. Does your coach emphasize safety at camp or practice? How do you make sure you’re always cheering safely?