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Attention, campers

Four Thunder Girls pay a surprise visit to kids at a metro arts camp.

Sarah Lobban July 18th, 2012

Children at First Christian Church’s summer day camp program got a big surprise July 16 when a former camper stopped by with three of her friends. Helen isn’t just any camp alumnus. More than 10 years after her first time at the church camp, called Artworks, she is now a Thunder Girl, and her friends are also part of the elite squad of dancers in the NBA.

first+christian+church+low92+scCampers at Artworks received a surprise visit from Helen and three of her fellow Thunder Girls - Credit: Shannon Cornman

Becky Clinton, director of Artworks, said it was Helen’s idea to visit the kids.

“She called and asked me if she could come and bring some Thunder Girls,” said Clinton, who has been with Artworks since its beginning 25 years ago.

The Artworks staff kept the visit a secret from the kids, who range in age from 8 to 12, telling them only that a special guest would be coming on Monday.

“They had no idea,” Clinton said. “Everyone squealed and screamed when [the Thunder Girls] walked in. It was exactly the reaction I hoped we’d get.”

The Thunder Girls danced to LMFOA’s hit “Party Rock,” showed the campers one of their routines and took questions from the children. Among the barrage of inquiries: Is it hard to learn to dance? How do you tell your pompoms apart? Do you like like any of the basketball players? And, of course: Could you say “hi” to Kevin Durant for me?

Helen and her fellow Thunder Girls Kelsey, Kaci, and Jada stuck around afterward to teach the dance class a few moves.

“It was very exciting,” said a third-time Artworks camper, Amanda. “It’s not a very likely chance of meeting [the Thunder Girls] every day.”

First-year dance major Jayna agreed, adding that seeing the professional dancers “made me have such a big smile on my face.”

“They just made my day,” she said. “They made me really, really happy.”

Credit: Shannon Cornman

For Helen, returning to Artworks was particularly special. It was here that the 24-year-old tried dance for the first time.

“I was in fourth or fifth grade,” Helen recalled. “I was a dance major [at the camp],  and I hadn’t danced at all before I came to Artworks. I wish I had started when I was [younger] like the other girls did, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

Finding herself in a class devoted to nothing but dance with like-minded peers, Helen said, was an “amazing experience.” She credited Artworks with helping her find her calling. The camp also provided her first musical appearance, something about a barnyard.

“I was a little dancing cow,” Helen said with a laugh.

Artworks holds three two-week sessions every summer. This season’s session ends Friday.

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