If you heard chanting and music coming from the Cardozo Gym from 9 a.m. to noon during the week of July 6 through July 10, it would have been the 15 girls ages 6 to 12 that participated in Cheerleading Camp offered by the City of Riverbank Parks and Recreation Department.
The campers received a pink camp T-shirt, ribbons for their hair that Cheer Camp leader Stephanie Argumedo made and they all received a spirit stick. New to camp this year, the camp leaders created a spirit stick contest.
“Kara Landeros won the spirit stick contest for creativity and overall attitude through the whole week,” stated Argumedo. “Spirit sticks are something cheerleaders use and they are not supposed to hit the ground.”
The spirit stick tradition started several years ago and many cheer camps still use them to this day. The custom is that if the stick hits the ground then that person will have a bad cheer year or bad luck.
The camp began last year and they had approximately 10 students; this year, the number of participants increased.
Cheer camper Josie expressed that camp was really good, she learned a lot and that she would like to return next year.
The participants were from all over the area like Riverbank, Oakdale, and Modesto.
Argumedo, along with co-leader/assistant Jackie Hernandez, had the students getting to know each other on the first day of camp as well as learning each other’s names and interests.
The next day the camp leaders began teaching the girls cheerleading skills including cheers, chants, stunts, jumps, partner stunts, pyramids, cartwheels and tumbling.
“There were some girls on Tuesday that couldn’t do cartwheels and I helped them so they got the confidence to do it so by today (Friday) they could do it all by themselves,” said Argumedo. “This camp will help them prepare for cheerleading and if they continue to return to camp they will learn even more things.”
The students expressed that they really enjoyed learning the jumps like the pencil jump, star jump, right hurkie, left hurkie and the toe touch.
As a former cheerleader for Riverbank High School, Argumedo has also attended cheer camps previously and had a collection of motions to teach the girls.
She planned a special treat for the campers on the final day of cheer camp and the students performed a routine for family and friends to show their progress.
With some assistance from former and current cheerleaders, Vanessa Argumedo, Jose Lopez, Christina Linarez, and Ana Raya, Argumedo was able to show the students a few of her cheerleading talents on the last day of camp. They all learned the dance on Thursday and performed for the campers on Friday.
“We really enjoyed it and it was surprise to them (campers) that I was going to do it (perform),” expressed Argumedo. “So when I came out they were all excited about it. It was fun.”
The campers were full of spirit and gave the audience an energetic performance.
“Cheer camp went very well this year,” said Hernandez. “The girls we did have this year gave it their all and learned the routines very quickly.”
Leaving the Cardozo Gym with smiles on the final day of camp, the youngsters ran back to the camp leaders with a big hug and thanks for the week long camp.
“From the first day to today, the girls did amazing,” stated Hernandez.