(Editor's Note: All week long, the Dallas Cowboys will be introducing a wide range of camps in this year's 2018 Youth & High School Academies with a five-part series, detailing the variety of camps. Throughout the week, nearly all of the 20 camps will be detailed, helping kids from all ages to find the best Academy for them.)
Sharing the same field as the actual Dallas Cowboys players, or cheering on the very sidelines as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are dreams that can be turned into a reality.
It might be the official offseason for the professionals, but this is the time of year when kids from all over can take the stage to show off their skills.
Over the next five months, the Dallas Cowboys are introducing this year's lineup of the 2018 Youth & High School Academies at either The Star in Frisco or AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the Cowboys will host a variety of camps, both general and specialized, to get first-rate teaching from former NFL players to former DCC performers.
Overall, there are 20 total camps, with 11 different varieties, ranging from football camps for quarterbacks, linemen, kickers and punters, to cheer and dance camps for both the little ones who want to have fun, to the older dancers looking to use these camps to further their skills as they try to advance to the next level.
Terrence Wheatley, a five-year NFL veteran former second-round draft pick of the New England Patriots, is the Camps Manager for the Dallas Cowboys. Not only does he bring a wealth of knowledge to the table, but he's assembled quite a team of instructors, including around 50 former coaches with professional experiences. Some of the former NFL players have Cowboys ties, including Dixon Edwards and Shaun Smith. The dance camps will also include several current Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
"This stuff existed, but not to the level that we're doing it," said Wheatley, who remembers going to a Michael Jordan basketball camp in North Carolina. "I remember going up against other kids that were really good. For the older kids, it's a chance to compete against kids other than your football team or dance team. For me, I didn't realize where I was until I started going to camps like this."
But while these camps can be geared to the most serious of competitors who are looking for any possible edge to help them separate from their peers, there plenty of camps geared toward a younger audience with different priorities.
"With the second-through-eighth graders, it's a lot different," Wheatley says. "They really just care about this awesome experience on the field. I think it's inspiring to them when you see it on TV, and now you're doing essentially the same thing. With some of our (combined) camps, it can be a family atmosphere with the football players playing on the field, and then we take breaks and the cheerleaders get to perform. We treat it as close to a game as we possibly can."
All camps include 2 Party Pass tickets to a Dallas Cowboys preseason game at AT&T Stadium, along with discounted tour vouchers at both The Star and AT&T Stadium.
Also, the Cowboys are running a special "Early-bird" promotion until May 1 for all three-day summer camps and early registrations will receive $25 off.
Many girls dream of becoming a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, and with events such as Lil' Miss Camp USA, those dreams can become a reality, at least for a day.
While there are other camps designed for the more serious competitors, the dancers and cheerleaders with aspirations of taking their talents to the highest of level, the younger kids come to the camp mainly for the fun, the uniform, and the chance to perform on the biggest stage they could imagine.
Some of the camps starts with children as young as three years old, which are typically one-day camps that include authentic DCC poms, photos ops with the cheerleaders and of course, hands-on instruction from America's Sweethearts and other trained professionals.
In fact, it's also a chance for parent interaction as moms and dads are invited on the field during some parts of the camp to participate and show off their dance moves as well.
How many kids can say they've shared a field with Dak Prescott, Jason Witten or Ezekiel Elliott? All of the ones who have participated in the Dallas Cowboys Academy camps can certainly raise their hand.
That's one of the exciting elements of the camps, especially for the younger football players, starting as early as second-graders.
"These younger kids, they just want to go out there and play," said Terrence Wheatley, the Cowboys' camps manger and former NFL player. "Just being out there and competing against each other, is what it's all about. We try to give them the best experience possible."
Wheatley highlights the Youth Combine camp as one that is rather unique, allowing kids to go through a scouting combine type of venue to get grades and scores on all kinds of agility training tests. Every camper not only gets a grade, but then gets drafted anywhere from the first round to the seventh.
Other camps for the youngsters include the Advanced Youth Camp that is designed for elite youth players that want to compete against the best, showcasing their skills at all positions.
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are iconic for dancers and cheer squad members of all ages. Getting the chance to work with some of the DCC alums is a dream come true, even for the teenage group serious about taking their skills to the next level.
The DCC Academies are an opportunity for kids (ages 6-16) to train from the best, and to do it at the same location as the actual squad.
Over the course of the summer, seven different three-days camps will take place, five at The Star in Frisco with two at AT&T Stadium.
The kids will learn routines throughout the week and get the chance to perform their dances at the end in front of family and friends. All campers will also receive two Party Passes for a Dallas Cowboys preseason game.
If a youth football player is serious about taking his game to another level, the Dallas Cowboys Football Academy certainly has a place for them.
Whether it's a broad camp that covers all of the basics of the game, or something specialized such as kicking and punter, or a big-man camp for linemen.
Terrence Wheatley, the Cowboys' camps manager and former NFL player, has added around 50 coaches with professional playing experience to help work the camps. Whether it's teaching quarterbacks the ability to read defenses and coverages, or running backs the art of picking up the blitz, these camps are designed to help the young players learn all aspects of the game.
It's not just about the best passers or runners or pass-catchers, the Cowboys offer a Big Man Clinic with drills designed specifically for linemen on both sides of the ball. Also, the Cowboys have one-day clinics for kickers and punters.