Since 1997, Hockey Canada has provided young players and coaches with the opportunity to enhance their skills in a positive learning environment through Hockey Canada Skills Development Camps. The one-day or two-day camps leave a lasting impression as players develop new friendships and challenge themselves during the on-ice and off-ice sessions. Focus during the Skills Development Camps is on learning fundamental skills, fair play, respect, teamwork, leadership and fitness.
The popularity of the camps, coordinated by Hockey Canada’s Regional Centres, has exploded since their introduction. The 2006-07 season saw more than 75 camps hosted nationally, with more than 800 volunteers and coaches and over 4,700 players taking part.
“It was a first-class experience and I am thankful for being included,” one coach said after taking part in a camp. “I am the envy of our team’s coaching staff.”
In addition to the regular camps that were held this year, the Hockey Canada Regional Centre West (HCRC-West) took part in three special Hockey Canada Skills Development Camps.
Hockey North Tour
For a week in January, instructors from the HCRC-West embarked on a trip north to assist in various skills development initiatives. Working with Hockey North, the HCRC-West was able to coordinate four different stops, the first being Yellowknife, NT. Here, HCRC–West Manager Derek Descoteau and Hockey Canada Development Coordinator Kevin Bathurst joined 30 Peewee-aged players and six coaches on the ice, leading them though a number of drills and specialty clinic material focused on puck control. All of the players who took part were presented with Hockey Canada Skills Camp jerseys.
The next stop was Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, located in the Arctic Circle. Despite a temperature of -40°C, more than 50 players and a dozen coaches took to the natural ice at the community rink to take part in development sessions. The sessions were followed with school visits the next morning.
Cambridge Bay, Nunavut marked the third stop for the Skills Camp program. Again, 50 local players took part in two days worth of development sessions that included on-ice and off-ice sessions held at the local high school.
The trip wrapped up back in Yellowknife for one final ice session with the Peewee rep team. In total, more than 150 players and 30 coaches took part in on-ice and off-ice sessions during the week.
"Our trip was a great success,” Bathurst said. “It was great to experience the passion the people of the North have for the game. The level of talent the youth possess is extraordinary. The game is in great hands, and will continue to flourish for a long time."
Canucks Centre for BC Hockey Skills Development Camp – GM Place, Vancouver
In February, GM Place played host to a special Skills Development Camp. Hockey Canada partnered with the Canucks Centre for BC Hockey and BC Hockey to bring this special event to Vancouver.
120 Atom and Peewee players from across British Columbia were able to live out their dreams and skate on the same ice as their heroes. All of the players took part in two on-ice sessions led by BC Hockey course conductors, a team building session that included a guest appearance by Vancouver Canucks mascot FIN, and a tour of GM Place.
After a long day that featured many smiles and even more pictures taken, all of the players took one last look around and dreamed that some day they may be back again.
World Women's Championship Skills Development Camp – MTS Centre, Winnipeg
In April 2007, Winnipeg was the host to the top women’s hockey players from around the world at the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship. What most people don’t know is that, prior to the championship, Winnipeg was also host to some of Canada’s up-and-coming female talent. In February, 120 female hockey players participated in a weekend-long Skills Development Camp ran in partnership by Hockey Manitoba, the World Women’s Championship host committee and Hockey Canada.
Girls from all over Manitoba arrived at the MTS Centre excited for the opportunity to skate on the same ice where Canada would later go for gold. Fifteen female coaches volunteered to assist with the camp, and a number of coaches attended a ‘We Are Coaches’ session presented by Hockey Manitoba and Hockey Canada following the camp. All of the participants received a ticket to one of Canada’s games at the World Championship.
For more information on Hockey Canada Skills Development Camps, please contact your Branch or local Hockey Canada Regional Centre.