Summer Hockey Camps

What is the point? Are they worth it?

This is the second year that Euan attends a week-long hockey summer camp, The Bob Hartley Intense Hockey Camp, in York Pennsylvania, about a 10-hour drive from where we live in Montreal, Qc.

I am writing this blog half way through the camp. While Euan is waking up at 6 am to be on the ice at 7:00 am and then returning on the ice three times, plus a friendly game in the evening, I am camping with other parents from Montreal, about 30 minutes away from the camp.

Euan sleeps at the camp. The cost is the going rate for sleepover camps, around $830. Which is just under what we paid for once a week training sessions with a private goalie coach all season long.

Is the camp about development ?

I saw Euan, ever so briefly, for 5 minutes yesterday before his game. I rarely see him the whole week, as he seems to be busy hanging out with friends and doing hockey stuff and has little time for his mother, unless he needs more cash.

I asked him if he learned anything new. “Not really,” he said. “I am just perfecting my game.”

So it got me thinking about the investment. Maybe we could spend half the money on a camp in Montreal. He wouldn’t sleep over. There wouldn’t be the extra cost of my stay in Pennsylvania while he’s at camp plus the drive down. Not to mention the exchange rate.

Maybe it’s about friendship

I was thinking about that as he got on the ice for the evening fun match. The day before, he had not done as well. He had been moved up a category, playing with second year Bantam and some Midget players. His friends stayed in the category below.

But today, his friends got moved up with him and he seemed happier. Ready to get on the ice.

What a game! He made some spectacular saves and got a shutout. His good friend, Gabriel Leduc, got a sweet back-hand goal and a great pass. The boys were beaming after the game.

What more can you ask for?

As we returned to our campsite, the parents got together over a nice meal and some wine. We shared our hockey stories. The ups and downs of playing minor league hockey in a hockey obsessed province.

One parent told us that many of their “friends” abandoned them last year because their son moved from B level to AA. They were jealous and acted out. Their son developed eczema, he was so stressed during the hockey season. But today, he scored 3 goals during his game and was playing with pure joy.

Another parent described how, despite all the volunteer coaching hours and great ideas he brought to the association, the directors penalized his child by not selecting him for a double letter team because they felt threatened by his ideas and felt like he didn’t take the right “paying your dues” and “don’t rock the boat” approach in his volunteering with the association.

So even as parents, we make friendships. We support each other. We are all hockey parents from the same city, and we all go our separate ways during the hockey season as our kids play at different levels, but we’ll always share the bond from The Bob Hartley Intense Hockey Camp. I have a special place in my heart for these players… I want them to succeed and I would go above and beyond for them and their parents.

This year is especially bittersweet for Euan and I, as his friend, Gabriel Leduc, will be moving on to a Sport Études program while Euan will continue in city hockey. I am also losing good friends as Gabriel’s mom is my favorite hockey mom ever and his dad had been an assistant coach for Euan for the last two years and has contributed greatly to his confidence, joy of the game and as a result his success.

Yes. It’s about both those things, but also so much more…

Something happened off ice yesterday, that made it all come together for me. As Euan was waiting to get on the ice, the younger goalies from the previous game were coming off the ice. They had a rough game as the score ended 13–10.

Euan took the time to talk to the younger goalies, encourage them and make them laugh by reminding them that tomorrow was another day. It was Windmill Wednesday, and they were going to do great.

I pointed it out to Stephanie, as I watched this unfold and to my surprise, one of the coaches, Eric Perrin, sitting behind me told me he was not surprised that Euan had done that. That made me even prouder, as I realized that Euan has probably made an impression as a leader and mature athlete.

I rarely get to observe my kids, at a distance, without them knowing. At that moment, I realized that the camp was also giving Euan growth, beyond as an athlete, but as a young man. He was given an opportunity to be a leader, as one of the older goalies, and he stepped up. Not just this one time, because a coach had noticed, so he must have done other similar things.

The Bob Hartley Intense Hockey Camp is also providing him with independence. Euan will be 13 in September. I’ve laid the foundation and now it’s time for me to give him opportunities to discover who he is, outside of his familiar surroundings. Something he will need plenty of if he continues to climb the hockey ranks as he plans to, and play professionally one day.

At the beginning of camp, we joked with Bob that he should do a camp closer to home. He said he couldn’t find a facility that provided the space to have the kids sleep over and do the camp this way. I didn’t quite get what he meant until now. You are right Bob! Don’t change a thing.

Oh, and by the way… Thank You.

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