Monday, March 03, 2008

Lynn O'Brien Cheer and Dance Camps 

Posted by James at 6:55 AM ET

Former New Orleans Saintsation Lynn O'Brien runs her own Cheer and Dance Camps. But the most important thing Lynn wishes the girls would take away from the camps is not cheer and dance technique. She wants each girl to walk away from her clinics and classes with a smile, pride, and knowledge that they can use in the future. Lynn says, "It is a rough world out there, especially for girls."

Lynn O'Brien
Lynn with a dance camp class

Before we get back to the camps, here's a little about Lynn.

She danced on her high school dance team, the Goldenettes at Turner High School in Kansas City, Kansas. She was also a UDA All-Star Dancer.

Lynn had always wanted to cheer for the NFL growing up. After high school she met her then boyfriend (now husband) David and moved to New Orleans after dating long distance for two years. She started college at the University of New Orleans and worked as a waitress. One of the girls she met waitressing was on a dance team, the "Dominators of Dance", that performed at Mardi Gras Parades. Lynn tried out and made that team. Unfortunately her friend that had introduced her to was kicked off the team for not perfecting a signature move. Lynn consoled her friend by saying, "Don't worry, we’ll try out for the Saints". Two months later they both tried out and made the team.

Since she had always loved pro football, Lynn says have that one of the most exciting parts of being a NFL Cheerleader was being so close to action. During one of the very first games she cheered at two players tackled with terrific force and impact just two feet from her. Lynn says that most of her teammates moved away, but she was too busy watching to see if the Saints still had the ball.

Her proudest moments as a Saintsation would come while visiting small towns outside of New Orleans. The people, the kids and the entire town were so grateful for the Sainsations appearances. Lynn says she felt such a great sense of pride when she stood under the hotel’s marquee that read "Welcome Saints Cheerleaders". She says, "I know it's a small thing, but you can’t take small things for granted."

Lynn O'Brien
Lynn on the set of Kansas City LIVE

Today Lynn runs Lynn O'Brien Cheer and Dance Camps. There are five-to-eight week long camps over the summer, as well as two day clinics and weekly classes

Lynn decided to start the camps just after she had her fist child, David. She was not ready to leave him for a long period of time and really wanted to dance again. She had an idea to hold a cheer camp where she would utilize her talents both as a dancer and as a teacher.

During the first camps the girls seem to really open up to her and talk about pretty important things. Lynn had 5 year-olds telling her they think they need to go on a diet! She realized the impact she could have on their lives. These girls really looked up to her, really listened to her and she had to take advantage of that.

A typical class begins with stretches, dance and cheer technique. Then they move on to free dance, where Lynn talks to the girls about moving to the music, if the music goes fast, dance fast, if the music moves slow, dance slow. Most importantly, Lynn tells them dance in a way that makes you feel good. She encourages the girls to use dance as a release of feelings. She advises, if you are happy, sad, mad, scared, just put on music in their room and dance and soon you will feel better.

Then they have "girl talk". Lynn explains to the girls that now that they are on a dance team (cheer team) together they are best friends. They can rely on each other to learn and lean on. She brings up a topic and let the girls comment on their experiences and their thoughts.

Some "girl talk" topics include: body image, giving to our community and those in need, standing up for yourself, healthy eating, smoking prevention, taking care of yourself, a positive body image and role models and much more. Lynn gives all the girls her e-mail address and phone number in case they want to talk or just let her know how school is. She says she gets great e-mail updates and questions about issues the girls are facing at school.

Lynn says she is especially pleased when parents tell her stories of how their daughters came home and taught the family a lesson that Lynn taught them. One example Lynn cites is a mom who told her 6 year-old daughter had another girl that was being mean to her and mom asked her how she dealt with it. The girl said "I put on my best cheerleader smile and said, I am sorry you are having a bad day, but I care about you." Her mom said, "You sound just like Ms. Lynn."

Lynn says that each girl at each camp, class, and clinic holds a special place in her heart. She has had over 350 girls participate in her camps in the past five years and she can tell you something about each of those girls.

Lynn O'Brien
Lynn's three-year old daughter Maddie is now participating in the camps and classes, and they have a great time making up the dances and learning from each other.

Lynn also has a clinic for the winter that is held one week before Christmas. The girls learn a fun Christmas dance, rockin' around the Christmas tree, two cheers and we will talk about the importance of giving. And there are more clinics coming during Spring Break.

And between camp, classes, teaching pre-school and raising her own children Lynn spends an astounding amount of time with kids, so how do she do it all and keep her sanity?

Lynn says she adores children, her own and others. "Kids are amazing and have nothing but love to give. I have never loved a job so much. I love how excited the girls are, the way they look up to me, the impact I have on them. I also appreciate the parents. I think I would go insane without kids. I have a very goofy personality. I need to be crazy and silly and I just don’t think adults would get that."

Lynn speaking about her Cheer and Dance Camp from Kansas City LIVE!

Learn more about Lynn's camps at LynnObrienCheer.com.

Labels: , ,