Day 1. I arrive nice and early. All of our veteran parents know that I like to arrive first, get a lay of the land, pray and prepare myself to greet girls and intelligently answer questions. God bless them for understanding my craziness. I check in and realize that they have placed our girls all together in one hallway on floor 3 and both of the coaches together on floor 2!!! Hello, we are the youngest girls at camp. Do you want me to have to sleep on the floor in the bathroom to be near them at night? A few walkie talkies and a promise to be on the couch in the common area until midnight does the trick. It is hot, some vomit, tears and a mediocre display of cheerleader spirit. Not perfect, but we survive.
Day 2. The girls gather in their cute pink t-shirts looking perky and hungry for breakfast. The captains accidentally woke the girls 45 minutes earlier than we planned - YIKES! Eight year olds need sleep, as much as possible. This day leads to a near breakdown from our fearless leader - ME! At lunchtime there is an issue with one of our girls. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and I cannot get my heart and head around it. The lunchroom is ridiculously overcrowded, stifling hot and the only food lines within reason are for spicy food. I am sitting too close to too many bodies and I start to feel myself want to scream very loud. What is wrong with me? I reluctantly excuse myself to take a quick shower upstairs alone. I cry in the stall. [Father help me. I don't feel capable of this task I was so excited for. I'm not doing it well. I need You to shine through me.] We finish the night with evaluations [Father thank you for the NCA staff that were assigned to us. We could not have done this without them.] Five of our girls were nominated for All American. What? We are so much younger than the rest of the squads - what an honor! The girls start to show some more cheerleader spirit - you go girls!
Day 3. We wake the girls a little late. A quick scramble to get ready for Fun Day at camp. We are wearing a camo theme. The black face make-up I purchased doesn't dry so we cannot wear the black lines under our eyes - DANG! Our stunting is really coming along! The goal was to get at least 2 single legged stunts, we got 3! The youth squad also has 2 stunts groups that can load to a prep, reload and bring it back up safely. Woo Hoo! We got some extra down time today to hang out, watch a movie and relax this afternoon. [thank you Jesus!] Three of the five girls nominated for All American tryout in front of a large group of cheerleaders. Wow, I cannot be more proud of them. It is harder than it looks. [Father, help me to stop sobbing like an idiot.] We performed our We Run This dance during the evening camp talent show and the crowd went WILD! That was so great for our esteem.
Day 4. We get to go home. Our parents are coming! We need hugs and our mommies - where is mine anyway? We get through final evaluations. The girls do great. We compete for junior top team chant and are competitive. Considering that we are younger than any other team by several years, we kicked butt! We didn't win, but we played to the crowd and that was goal #2 for the camp. We take home a spirit stick, four excellent ribbons and two superior. We SURVIVED!
The things I learned at camp this year:
- Exactly 24 cheerleaders and 2 coaches with backpacks can fit into the elevators in Haggett Hall.
- Young girls will not claim any undergarments left in bathrooms regardless of the discretion used to compel them to do so - even if their names are written on them.
- It takes about eight 24oz bottles of Diet Pepsi over ice to keep 2 coaches alive during 2 full days and 2 half days of camp.
- Little girls can go to the bathroom 10 times each in a four hour period.
- Never underestimate the sweet smile and innocent eyes of two ten year olds in the bathroom at 12:30am.
- Red licorice can heal homesickness in a pinch.
- I am so lucky to have such great kids in our program.
OK, OK, it wasn't that bad. The physical and emotional exhaustion cannot compare to the examples of spirit and determination I saw in those few days. Some brought me to tears (not pretty ones trickling down my face, but the loud, snotty kind). I am so lucky to have this opportunity, however exhausting. I love these girls and I believe I will reap the rewards as I get to watch them grow up and accomplish AMAZING things in years to come.