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Campers learn more than cheers

For the past week, the rafters of Ebenezer United Methodist’s gymnasium echoed with the cheers of 41 girls, and the floor was covered in glitter.

The cheerleaders-in-training, who were in the church’s cheer camp this week, left their mark.

“It’s every little girl’s dream to be a cheerleader,” director Michelle Holst said. “It’s a chance for them to have fun and learn about cheerleading. At the same time, we teach them good sportsmanship.”

While the camp is held at the church, it attracts more than just church members. Three-fourths of the 41 girls came from the community.

“Ebenezer is known for its children’s programs,” Holst said. “People come back every year, and our programs continue to grow.”

Each morning, girls came with their tennis shoes, bows in their hair and cheerleading T-shirts, ready to start the day.

“It was so exciting to see some of the girls so excited,” Holst said. “We had some girls wearing their cheer uniforms from previous years. They wore their hair bows. It’s just so cute.”

At the camp, which lasted for a few hours each morning, the girls learned 40 different chants, cheer lingo, jumps and a choreographed dance routine.

“I was excited to learn the cheers,” camper Emily Pilz said. “I only knew one or two cheers before. Now if you go to a game, you can use the cheers you memorized.”

“If you walked in here you’d hear their sneakers squeaking, pom-poms crashing together, hands clapping and their voices echoing off the rafters,” Holst said.

In addition to the finer points of cheerleading, the girls made megaphones with multi-colored glitter and other crafts.

“The floor of the gym was just covered in glitter,” Holst said. “The girls had too much fun. I was covered in glitter for days and the basketball coach said the boys would be sweeping it up in piles at practice.”

Most importantly, however, the girls learned about teamwork.

“The older girls helped the younger girls, and there are no ‘go-fight-win’ cheers,’” Holst said. “It’s about teaching them good sportsmanship and positive reinforcements. It’s not competitive. The girls would even cheer for each other.”

The girls were able to demonstrate their new skills at a basketball game played by campers at Ebenezer’s basketball camp on Friday evening.