Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

There's a Camp for Young Cheerleaders

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

There's a Camp for Young Cheerleaders

Article excerpt

Byline: Manoucheka Celeste, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

The national champion Fernandina Beach High School Pirate cheerleaders went to Cheer Camp last week, not for themselves, but to teach future Pirates the tricks of the trade.

Girls as young as 4 eagerly mimicked every step of the older girls they consider pros. A dozen parents sat and watched in the shade at the front of the Atlantic Recreation Center.

Coach Debbi Roland and 14 Fernandina Beach High School cheerleaders served as hosts and instructors at the five-day camp that ended yesterday.

The camp has been held for the past 15 years.

"We started it as a way for girls to have a summer activity, since there were a lot of activities for boys," said Roland, who cheered for the Pirates when she attended Fernandina Beach High School.

Tuesday morning, the girls were confined to a large room at the recreation center as heavy rains passed through Amelia Island. Roland used the opportunity to play the video from the national championships and talked about what it took to be a cheerleader.

Wednesday's sunshine allowed the future cheerleaders to get to the real work.

Divided into different age groups, the girls danced, did cartwheels and practiced stunts to the sounds of the latest dance music.

After a dance routine, Annie Page, Sarah Jones and Kaylan Langford, all 7-year-olds, scrambled to their spots to do a stunt during which Annie is hoisted into the air and caught by the others.

Annie, an Atlantic Elementary School second-grader, attended last year's camp and said she returned because she enjoyed it. She looks forward to being a Pirate cheerleader, but for now will continue to cheer at games as a Little Pirate.

"I like cheering at the games because of the audience," Annie said. "The best part is when they clap."

Many of the Pirate cheerleaders attended the camp when they were younger.

Tiffany Powell, 15, began attending Cheer Camp when she was 4. …

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