Every year, and sometimes even every season, teammates come and go. Some graduate, some move, some change teams, and some are new to the sport. Whatever the reason, this means that at least once a year, you have to become friends with a new group of cheerleaders. This is, of course, not a bad thing. But for some, it's not always the easiest thing. Whether you're shy or just new, adjusting to a new squad may take time.

Here are a few ways to get to know your new squad that are fun and stress-free. Use some (or all!) of the ideas and your entire squad will be BFFs in no time. 

    1. A party. It's the easiest and most obvious way to get people to bond. The only thing you plan is the actual event and everything else you leave up to fate. Okay, maybe you should also plan on who brings the chips and who brings the dip, but other than that, just let things happen. People will naturally congregate and start talking about school, life, or cheer. Once you get the team in the same room with no distractions, everyone will be forced to talk. This doesn't mean you have to lock everyone up in a room with no sound (creepy). You can decorate and play some music to make everyone comfortable; just don't blast the music so loud that no one can hear anything anyone is saying.

    2. A test. Wait, what? Lame! No, not lame. A coach or captain can prepare a questionnaire form for everyone to fill out. It should include a bunch of questions about all sorts of things, from cheer stuff to general life stuff. Here are a few great questions to include:

      • What is your favorite TV show/band/movie/book?

      • If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

      • What is your favorite and least favorite school subject?

      • What's your ultimate dream job?

      • What is your favorite and least favorite food?

      • You can only watch movies from one genre for the rest of your life. Do you choose horror, drama, comedy, or romance?

      • You're stuck on a desert island. What are the three things you take with you?

      Questions like these are fun and really share a lot about someone's personality. Have everyone fill out the form and then, in a big group, have each person share their answers. Let other people raise their hands if they had the same or a similar response (or the exact opposite!).

    3. A getaway camp. Since it's common for squads to head to camp during the summer, use this as an opportunity to bond with your squad. If possible, plan a camp that's away from home. This will require the team to hang out with each other, rather than immediately leave after practice. During camp, host team dinners and fun games. Nothing bonds a team more than a silly, competitive game, like Red Rover or charades. Even better, but requiring a little more work, is to plan a scavenger hunt. Split the squad into little teams and set them off on their mission. The teammates will have a fun opportunity to work together.

    4. Make cheer accessories...for each other. It's time to make like Martha Stewart and get out the glue gun. Plan a day for your team to make personalized megaphones, cheer bows, or pillowcases but with one catch: rather than a person making an item for herself, have each person make an item for another teammate. Each person can pull a name out of a hat. Then, it's her goal to design the cheer item in a way that reflects the teammate's personality or interests. For example, if Emily pulls Martha's name out of a hat, Emily can take some time to get to know Martha. If she finds out Martha really likes zebras, she can decorate her megaphone with zebra print. To up the competition, offer a prize to one lucky winner!

    5. Fundraise. No, really. Kill two birds with one stone and use your fundraiser as a way to unite the team. Plan a fundraiser that's an event, like a fashion show or car wash. Assign certain teammates certain tasks and have them work together to create innovative signs and banners.

If your squad is new, make bonding a top priority. A cheer team can't be the best if the teammates aren't friendly and familiar with one another. Being on a cheer team requires trust and we all know that trust is born from friendship. 

What are your ideas for adjusting to a new squad? What has your team done in the past?