Note: The following is a report on the recent Team Hardwood Midget Camp in southern Ontario written by volunteer Heather F. Wilson and submitted by Team Hardwood’s board of directors. Have a training-camp recap of your own? Send yours with high-quality photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Athletes Are Made In The Summer
A Volunteer’s Report on the Team Hardwood Midget Camp | By Heather F. Wilson
BARRIE, Ontario — Somewhere behind the athlete you have become are those hours as a little kid when you picked up a pair of skis, fell in love with the sport, and never once looked back. As a camp, our main goal for the past weekend was to get as many young kids as possible to fall in love with cross country skiing. With a total of 8 midget-aged athletes, 4 volunteers from Team Hardwood’s senior racing team and our Head Coach Ron Howden, I think we did just that.
The two days started off with all the midgets meeting on Friday at Hardwood Ski and Bike. Everyone was enthusiastic and ready to get going. Half the campers had been on roller-skis before, and the other half had not. They were all super excited to get out on the roads to try the skis out.
What we found worked for us was to divide the athletes up so that the Juniors who had never been on rollerskis each got to do 1 on 1 work with the volunteer helpers, while Ron was able to take the more experienced athletes out to work on specific ski technique.
It seemed that after 90 min of rollerskiing the kids were even more excited and energetic than before. Nobody could stop talking about how much fun it had been to rollerski and from a volunteer perspective, this was really great to hear. It let me know that they were all enjoying cross country skiing so far.
The great thing about midget-aged athletes is that their energy never seems to go down. So even after 90 minutes of rollerskiing, they were still wired up and ready to go. We continued our day of training with a few running games including manhunt, capture the flag, cops and robbers, and a few others. This was great because it didn’t give the kids any chance to sit down and rest.
As all the athletes were staying together, we were able to have dinner as a group and swap stories of what had happened earlier while rollerskiing. A few of the athletes who had never even been cross country skiing before, let alone roller-skiing, could not contain their excitement at how much they had improved within the 90minutes. All everyone could talk about was how much they looked forward to trying it again. I think I speak for myself, the other volunteers, and Ron when I say it’s great to see young athletes so enthusiastic about rollerskiing and cross country skiing in general.
After dinner it was on to the next workout of the camp. While we were eating, Ron set up a 4-station ski specific circuit. We had a core station, a double polling station, a polling station to work on diagonal stride arms, and finally a balance station because everyone knows how important balance is in cross country skiing. This station was particularly fun for the kids because we had set up a rope going from one tree to another about a foot off the ground and the kids had to balance on it while trying to push their partner off. I think this was a favourite for all of them because they really seemed to enjoy it. I don’t think any of the athletes were expecting to be doing anything like this but they all picked it up perfectly. We rotated the kids through these stations numerous times.
Now, everyone knows training is important, but having fun is equally important. So there was no better way to finish off the workout than with a good campfire, smores and a movie before heading to bed. It was a perfect way to wind down from all the excitement of the day and just take a of couple hours to chill. Well, almost chill…. we may have delayed bedtime to try a little mattress surfing down the stairs. But really, I think missing 20 minutes of sleep is totally worth it if you’re going to replace it with mattress surfing.
For the Juniors, Saturday morning couldn’t come soon enough. They started off the morning extremely energetic at 8am ready to go for a run. We took everyone for a short and slow run and then did a bit of stretching with them before breakfast.
The original plan for Saturday morning was to do some ski striding work, but after Friday’s successful rollerski everyone was begging Ron to let them ski instead. Saturday’s ski was similar to Friday’s where each volunteer worked one-on-one with an athlete for about 90minutes while Ron worked with the skiers who were comfortable on their skis.
For younger skiers, it’s important to have them training and exercising without their even realizing it. I am pretty sure this is what Ron had in mind when he took all of us over to “Tree Top Trekking” at Horseshoe Valley for the last 3 hours of camp. It is a super fun way to spend an afternoon, everyone loves it, and it gets their strength and balance working as they hang on to the ropes and try to cross the thin wires between trees.
I had a blast helping at this camp and I know my fellow teammates did as well. The kids learned so much and they all came away from the camp with smiles on their faces, which is the most important part. I can’t wait to see everyone in the fall and at the next midget camp. Hopefully, the next time they will all bring their friends and it can be even bigger and better!
About Team Hardwood:
With its base at Hardwood Ski and Bike north of Toronto, Team Hardwood is one of Ontario’s most successful developmental cross country ski racing clubs. Its athletes regularly progress to Canada’s national development centres and university teams. It includes current NST member Lenny Valjas and several top Junior skiers on its roster for the 2013-2014 season.