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FHS Jr. Cheer Camp is ‘special’

Even a little “mommy’s girl” crying her eyes out would cultivate fond memories of Farragut High School Junior Cheer Camp.

Looking back more than 12 years, Morgan Ferrell, former Farragut High School cheerleader who has earned a cheerleading scholarship to the University of Central Florida, had her first Junior Camp experience as a 5-year-old.

But it was hardly smooth sailing. “I was very homesick the whole time, and I, like, did not want to leave my mom, so I was, like, crying and stuff the entire time,” said Ferrell, a 2009 FHS graduate and co-captain of the 2008-09 team.

“But even when I was crying, the [FHS cheerleaders at that time] were really helpful, and I remember they never got annoyed at me,” Ferrell added. “And they, like, stayed with me the whole time; and that made me feel a lot better.”

Ferrell’s reflection comes on the eve of 2009 FHS Junior Camp, Monday through Friday, July 20-24, in the FHS Commons for girls ages 5-12. Registration begins at 5 p.m., Monday.

Also a competitive cheerleader with Premier Athletics’ Sharks teams, where she has contributed to teams placing high nationally and finishing high in a world competition last February, Ferrell, 18, taught at the Junior Camp for two years while at FHS.

That proved rewarding. “I work at Wild Wing Cafe, and there are still little kids that come in and they know who I am,” Ferrell said. “It's really cool cause their parents know me, too, and they're like, ‘Are you going to be working at the Junior Camp again?’ And they're like, ‘Yeah, we're going to come to Junior Camp, we're so excited.”

Melissa Glover, who begins her third year as FHS cheerleaders coach and camp director, while also beginning her sixth year as an advanced placement U.S. History teacher, said FHS Junior Cheer Camp is special.

“They learn a variety of different things, they learn cheers, chants, dances,” Glover said. “We divide the curriculum up, and depending on the age group, they do a little bit of stunts. Of course, the older girls will do more. All under the supervision of the [FHS] cheerleaders, and completely run it and kinda organize everything. ... There are two or three cheerleaders for each age group.

“There's a lot of one-on-one with the cheerleaders,” Glover added. “They're not just thrown into a huge crowd. They're kept with other girls of their age group. The cheerleaders, because they do this every year, are kind of aware at who needs a little more attention and who's a little more nervous at first.

“It's really fun for the campers because they see the cheerleaders at football games, or they see them in the Fourth of July parade. They love them. And it's great for my cheerleaders to have that, to realize they are role models.”

Junior Camp participants have numbered between “60 and 70” the past two years, Glover said.

“We have campers from all levels, we have some who have been involved in cheerleading for years .... but every year we get quite a few girls who know nothing about cheerleading,” Glover said. “They end up loving it because it’s fun.”

Monday through Thursday camp days start at 6 and run to 8 p.m. A special performance wraps up things Friday in Wells Auditorium, beginning at 7 p.m., Glover said.

“On that Friday they do a performance for the parents of all the stuff that they've learned, and we do that in the auditorium so they can be on stage and act like they're putting on a show,” Glover said.

The middle three evenings have a theme: Tuesday is “Beach Night,” where the girls “basically wear a hula skirt, and they wear a little sun dress. It's not anything elaborate at all,” Glover said.

Wednesday is “Uniform Night,” where the girls wear their own cheerleading uniform. Or, if some girls don't have uniforms, "We actually have some, we have old uniforms that we sell very cheap.”

Thursday is “Farmer Night,” where “they wear overalls and put their hair in pigtails and put on freckles,” Glover added.

“Every night we end with kind of a dance party ... they learn different line dances. One they're doing this year is ‘Hannah Montana.’”

Also included is a “dance-off and a jump-off,” Glover added about dancing and jumping contests, divided by age, where participants vote for top performances.

Cost of camp is $55. Proceeds benefit the FHS cheerleaders.

Glover said her role includes a human interest job. “There's inevitably one or two nervous little girls, they get nervous when their mom leaves, so usually they hang out with me and be my helper.

“We just kinda keep them busy. When their mom comes back they forgot they were nervous.”

Just like Morgan Ferrell.


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