Twenty girls on Perry High School’s varsity cheerleading squad are among the 140 from around Oklahoma in town for the American Cheerleaders Association’s four-day long camp that started Wednesday at Oklahoma State University.

Chelsea Kroll of Perry is going to be a senior cheerleader at Perry High and has attended ACA’s camp with the rest of her squad for the past three years.

“I hope we learn to be closer as a squad, and to be stronger physically and emotionally,” Kroll said of the 20-member squad.

Her cheer coach, Julie Morris, used to be on the ACA staff for four years before becoming Perry’s cheer coach. Morris said the camp helps the girls “learn how to be leaders in school and how to get along (with each other).”

Perry’s junior high squad is also attending the camp, with head cheer coach Pam Groom, and her assistant and daughter, Hailey.

ACA has had camps in Stillwater before, but this year is the first year in a while for the association to be at OSU, ACA Director Lance Wagers said.

Wagers said ACA has about 4,000 girls attend its camps a year, adding that the turn out in Stillwater is always great.

The ACA motto is to teach more than just cheerleading, and Wagers said that is evident at camp, where girls are taught life skills and manners as well cheerleading skills.

Many girls have been long-time campers and come back every year, Wagers said, adding it’s nice to watch their skills grow.

The camp is a part of ACA’s 2006 summer camps, which cover Oklahoma and Texas.

Girls range in ages from 12-18 years old and are from all over Oklahoma, including Cleveland, Keystone, Mannford and Perry.

They learn cheer routines as well as how to be a leader, ACA’s head cheer instructor Julie Norton said.

Before being a head instructor for ACA for the past 10 years, Norton was a cheerleader at the University of Kansas, where she attended college.

She has been in cheerleading for 20 years and said it’s rewarding when she sees some of the girls attending camp get older through the years, and some of them eventually becoming fellow instructors at ACA.

“It’s what keeps us coming back,” she said.

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