Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Silver Bay Hockey Camp Delivers Top Shelf Training and Tons of Fun

There is a commercial I saw where two dads are watching a hockey game, one with a baby strapped to his chest. The other dad, whose kid is playing on the ice, asks why the baby isn’t on skates yet, and is told he’s only six months old. That doesn’t seem to be a good excuse for him. He turns to cheer on his kid, who slams an adult player into the boards.

In Northland communities, I think the love of hockey does start young in many who then carry on their passion for the game through­out their lives and pass down the tradition to new generations. Parents bring babies to the games who like to clap along with fans, even though they’re not sure what they are clap­ping about. Kids beg for treats and souvenirs and tend to be enthusiastic dancers when the right music plays over the speakers. Little brothers and sisters watch big brothers and sisters play in admiration, perhaps learning a trick or two.

More than a trick or two can be learned at the Silver Bay Hockey Camp, a long-standing tradition in Silver Bay for over twenty-five years. According to Nick Bjerken, who helps to organize the camp each year, 170 kids (from Mite age to High School) attended this summer. This is a new record, the growing number of enrollees speaking to the expand­ing reputation of the program. Local kids and some from the Twin Cities, Iron Range, and Wisconsin enrolled in the camp that was held from July 22-28 at the Rukavina Arena.

The instruction the players receive is, ac­cording to Nick, “top notch.” Instructors with years of experience and backgrounds in the NHL, USA Hockey National Team, Women’s Professional Hockey, Figure Skating Cham­pionships, and business owners specializing in training and instruction all help to hone young hockey players’ skills. It’s a team of knowledgeable coaches who can impart loads of wisdom during the weeklong camp.

In addition, camp counselors comprised of college hockey players from Division 1 and 3 levels, junior hockey, Silver Bay Hockey alumni, and current Storm High School Play­ers are involved, supporting the instructors and players.

I don’t know much about coaching, but it seems to me like this kind of approach is key to well-rounded players, as they learn from experts in all areas, walks of life, and expe­rience.

Getting the community involved, a new feature was added this year to include hon­orary coaches for daily games. After on-ice instruction, lunch, dry land and classroom time, the daily game seems to be the high­light of the day. One day members of the Lake County Search and Rescue Squad came to coach against the Silver Bay Fire Depart­ment. The next day, it was the Silver Bay Police Department versus the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Nick said the coaches had as much fun as the kids.

Champ, UMD’s Bulldog mascot, made an appearance on the last day. If you check out the Silver Bay Hockey Camp’s Facebook page, you’ll see he was a huge hit. Everyone wanted a picture with Champ. I don’t blame them.

“The reason we are able to provide such a premier camp like this is because there are so many people willing to go the extra mile to make sure these kids have the best expe­rience possible,” Nick wrote in his email to me. “This camp wouldn’t be possible with­out our instructors, counselors, arena staff, volunteers and our main sponsor Lovin Lake County.”

The program serves as a fundraiser for the Silver Bay Blue Line Club, a nonprofit that supports Silver Bay Youth hockey. More about the club, camp, and hockey programs can be found silverbayhockey.com.

Nick also noted that he can’t wait until next year’s hockey camp, which is scheduled for July 20-26, 2024. Judging from the pictures I’ve seen from this season’s camp, he’s likely not the only one that feels that way. The wide smiles on everyone’s faces (from mite age to adult) shows that the love of hockey starts young and lasts a lifetime.

Feel free to contact me at sarahwritesnsj@yahoo.comwith any news we should news about!

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