After the 2011 national championships and Canadian team trials I was invited by Josh Binstock to roll up with him to a volleyball camp called “Madawaska”. I had heard of the camp before through Mark Heese and a few other athletes but had no Idea what I was getting into when I accepted the invitation!
|Beach Courts in the middle of nowhere|
Josh and I drove North East for 3 hours and arrived to camp late Wednesday evening. It was spectacular timing because it was Casino night with free drinks and hilarious auction after with the proceeds going to charity! I played poker for the entire evening without getting dealt a single hand but it wasn’t a problem because I’m not a gambler and I had no interest in taking any of the auction items. Overkill and Beach Blast had donated a bunch of swag and I have enough beach clothes to last me a lifetime! It was highly entertaining watching an array of moderately desirable clothing go for silly prices! Bidding wars happened over scarfs, shorts, undies and all kinds of hilarious stuff and people were getting vicious! It was a fun first night with the adults but we were pretty tired from driving up and had to go to bed in our luxurious accommodation!
|First class lodging!|
|Field of dreams at 6 AM|
Before we knew it the 6 AM wake up call was upon us. Camp Madawaska runs their own time zone to utilize more daylight so 6 was actually 5. They run an incredible amount of programming throughout the day and it is only made possible by the super early start. The entire camp rolled to the tennis courts for a morning session called “Togetherness” which activates, motivates and brings everyone together to start the day off right. Once all the kids had arrived I realized the magnitude of camp Madawaska. There were over 700 people involved in the warmup!!! Such a cool place to be and I couldn’t have been more excited to be a guest of honor with Josh.
We cuised to breakfast and we were then introduced to the dual nature of the camp. I knew I was going to help with beach but the “court” component was MASSIVE. The kids were divided into court and beach which caused quite a bit of animosity and chirping between tables! It was such a great energy as tables chanted beach and sang songs proclaiming their superiority. A table would erupt in banging and a team would stand up, chant a rhyme and then the whole room would erupt with either support or disapproval depending on how good it was. Such a great initiative and I had such a great time watching!
After breakfast we took a quick nap and then hit up the sand courts for the first morning session. We coached a bit, enjoyed watching the kids play and then did a really fun question and answer period to close it out. The kids were so interactive, interested and keen to learn from our experiences playing beach around the world. The questions were all fantastic so we were able to share volley experiences and sporting knowledge with them for 25 minutes.
|Beach VS Court coaches|
The second session of the day started with the indoor vs court coaches match! Josh threw his shoes on and played but I stayed off cause I am still working through my back injury and didn’t want to jeopardize me recovery. The game wasn’t short of action and the beach boys absolutely demolished the court guys. The court ladies beat the beach ladies so the 3rd set changed to co-ed 6’s and the court team won. It was an unfortunate loss for beach but with such a dominant performance from the men the coaches challenged the male court team to a rematch for the following day. (Court accepted and got pumped the next day!)
Dinner was tasty and the chanting between volley realms was spicy! The kids still had energy and had one more session to complete that day! We ended the 3rd session with game play and Josh and I walked around helping, encouraging and coaching. With such an array of talented athletes there was no lack of action and I was thoroughly entertained by the U14 men’s division. These young boys were super talented, understood the game and were employing an effective blocking defense! They were ripping balls line, showing finesse, tearing jump serves and playing magnificent defense. Needless to say we have some stellar athletes coming up through the Ontario volleyball system and I can’t wait for them to start challenging me!
The rest of our time there was spent coaching, exploring and connecting throughout the camp. We scoped out the leaderships activities on their low ropes course, swam in the lake, watched competitive court games and overheard some of the tryouts for their final evening of “Madawaska has talent” which was promising to be the best show ever. As we were about to leave we got caught up in the Madawaska Olympic ceremonies. Each cabin represented a different country and had to come up with a dance, cheer, poster and present it in front of everyone! Such a great idea and all the kids were so involved!
|Opening ceremonies at Madawaska Olympics|
One thing I cherished was being able to select athletes I thought showed exemplary skill, desire and hustle. Josh and I went to all the groups and handed our jerseys and autographed cards to kids we felt deserved a pat on the back. One of the girls had never even played volleyball but managed to adapt, learn and stay positive!
Between the owners, organizers, coaches and athletes we got to know some fantastic people in the volleyball world and connect with the next generation of volleyball stars in our country. It was such a great experience for me personally and I can’t wait to go back to the best volleyball camp in Canada next summer!!!
|Photo we took for Volleywood with all the beach athletes|