Bel Air High School was overrun with cheerleaders this week for a cheer camp that drew 200 from local high schools as well as a number of instructors, including two associated with the Baltimore Ravens.
"This is the first time we've ever done it," Brandy Mann, the mom of a cheerleader, said Wednesday.
The camp ran Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and was designed to help area students get ready for high school tryouts.
"It's very, very stressful, it's very difficult to get on these high school teams," Mann said.
She explained she and fellow organizer Allison Stangle decided to organize the camp to fill a need. Mann said there are plenty of camps for younger girls, but once they reach high school age, it's harder to find a place to learn without being scouted by private companies.
Mann said she and Stangle expected a group of 25 to maybe 50, but the interest far exceeded their expectations. Mann said they ended up with 200 girls registered for the camp and had to start turning people away.
"We were still getting calls the night before," Mann said.
She said the turnout illustrates a need for this kind of camp and she plans to make it an annual event.
The program is sponsored by Bel Air Parks and Recreation and Bel Air High School volunteered the facility, Mann said. A comparatively small fee, less than $100, was required for registration, Mann said. She explained many camps comparable to the one in Bel Air this week cost significantly more than $100.
"These older girls need a place to come and not be recruited by private companies," Mann said.
The girls were split into groups to practice basic tumbling, advanced tumbling and stunting.
"This is tougher than football any day of the week," Mann said.
Among the camps coaching staff were instructors from KYA Cheer, the Arena Club, University of Maryland and the Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders.
Will Stokes, assistant stunt coach for the Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders, and Sara Hancock, C. Milton Wright graduate and cheerleader for the Ravens whom Stangle coached, were among the talented staff showing local girls their techniques.