Kerrie Blakeney, a senior at Sylva Bay Academy in Bay Springs Miss., is returning for her fifth year to the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) camp, held annually at The University of Southern Mississippi.
The NCA camp is a four-day program that provides instruction for secondary school cheerleaders across the state and beyond. It is one of seven cheer camps offered this summer through the university’s Office of Conference and Fraternity Housing.
The camp includes an opening ceremony for the parents to cheer for their own cheerleader before they part for the next three days. It also features a “Home Pom” performance, which takes place on the first evening of the camp and serves as a way for the campers to showcase their dances and get ready for the program.
“I love the energy, they’re really good about getting the crowd involved and they never leave anyone behind,” Blakeney said.
Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) and NCA both sponsor camps and have identified Southern Miss as a Flagship School in the state for their programs.
Instructors help campers with everything from beginners’ toe touches to advanced jumps. Throughout the duration of the camp there are plenty of icebreaker activities for the girls to bond and form friendships through a shared devotion to cheering and gymnastics.
Gabriel West, an instructor at the camp, is passionate about what NCA camp offers participants. “They come here and they’re reminded why they do this. Being around people who love doing the same thing really helps them get a better mindset as a team,” she said.
Gary Kimble, director of the office, said there are about 1,600 girls attending cheer camps this summer, approximately 400 more than last year. Kimble is working in concert with multiple entities on campus, including the Department of Athletics, Eagle Dining, Department of Residence Life, and iTech to offer a variety of accommodations to the campers.
“We want these campers to have a good experience so that they will consider returning to Southern Miss as students,” he said.
The office works with both UCA and NCA in a three-year rotation period, in which they plan ahead for the next three years for camps offered at the university. This fall will begin the three-year planning process again, and Kimble is excited about the new recruitment opportunities it could bring the university.
The NCA camp is just one of the many active camps the Southern Miss Office of Conference and Fraternity Housing brings to Southern Miss for youth. There are already 800 new contacts interested in hosting host camps next summer.
To learn more about Conference and Fraternity Housing and camps offered at Southern Miss, contact Gary Kimble at firstname.lastname@example.org call 601.266.4791.