Almost 200 minor hockey aged players got their new season off to a riveting start at the annual Rankin Rock Season Opener hockey camp in Rankin Inlet from Oct. 14 to 19.
In addition to on-ice skill development, the Arctic Inspiration Prize-winning camp also features modules on literacy and personal growth, off-ice training, healthy eating and nutrition and player development.
The camp provides instruction to the minor hockey age groups of initiation, novice, atom, peewee, bantam and midget and features both male and female participation among both players and group leaders.
Camp developer and head on-ice instructor David Clark said the number of camp participants exceeded expectations this year, especially in the camp’s two youngest age groups of initiation and novice.
He said the initiation group swelled to 30 players this year.
“I can honestly say that every kid has improved a little bit during the camp, but you notice it more in the younger groups of initiation and novice,” he said. “We had kids who couldn’t even skate on day one and they were taking part in all the drills by the end of the camp.”
The camp also attracted a handful of kids come to the camp from other communities. They had to find their way to Rankin, but were not charged for participating.
“All together there were 20 of us instructing and running the camp, with that number going up to 30 including literacy, cooking and everyone working at the camp this past week.
Each group had an hour lunch break at the community hall, with the meals being prepared by Kelly Clark-Lindell and her helpers.
Adriana Kusugak, Laura Merritt and Shanti Dias handled the literacy components, while Panniuq Karetak did an excellent job with off-ice training, said Clark.
The camp ran extremely smoothly and Clark said keeping the kids in the arena complex during lunchtime made a huge difference.
“The kids weren’t going home and coming back, or hanging around the arena causing disturbances during lunch,” he said. “They were pretty much kept busy all day from start to finish.
Clark said he always talks with the group leaders to get feedback on what they feel is working well and what can be improved upon.
He said he makes a number of tweaks to the camp every year so that it runs more efficiently.
Clark said he would be offering similar camps in a couple of other Kivalliq communities this year. He hopes to be running one in Baker Lake around the end of November when their ice is ready and another in Arviat during the first part of December.
Clark said the Season Opener camp is strictly a skills-development camp.
He said camp instructors do not teach systems or team approach to the game.
“It’s all about skating and puck skills and that’s a good way to start because you want everyone working on their own game and getting excited for the start of the new hockey season,” he said.