The Shawnigan Lake Rugby Academy takes place from July 8th to 13th. The camp is a residential experience and for the camp founder and Director, Gary Dukelow, thatís an important component. The time spent off the field is just as valuable as the time spent on the field. That holds true both for the coaches that attend and the players (age 14 to 17). Gary's goal is to create a unique rugby environment for learning and networking. As an Economics teacher at Shawnigan he knows the value of intangible benefits, long term effects and creating change. He believes those that attend the camp will leave not only with a better technical understanding of the game but also the intangibles that will have a positive long term effect on the rugby communities they return to.
For the coaches itís a chance to compare notes and build networking relationships with other coaches from across the country as well as learn from some of the top coaches in Canada. John Tait, the current womenís XV and 7s coach, will be running the coaches program and the learning takes place not only formally during the day but informally during the evening socials. John brings a unique Canadian perspective to elite coaching - born in Orangeville, Ontario he was one of the original members of the CCSD (later to become the Pacific Pride). He played professionally in Brive and Cardiff and also earned 37 caps with the national team. He was the Senior Men's assistant coach for six years before becoming head coach of the Senior Women's team.
The student's program is under the guidance of Jim Delaney, the national U17 coach. Gary Dukelow stresses that this is a technical camp not a high performance camp. There will be two divisions to allow players to learn at the level most comfortable to them, depending on their current understanding of the game. Not only is there a wealth of experience available to players from the coaches but after the day's sessions are complete they're supervised by current national team members Nanyak Dala, Sean White and Barbara Mervin.
We asked these three national team players what they thought the students would take out of the camp and what they've experienced the previous years as chaperone/mentors. This is what they shared.
The students attending the camp get a chance to meet and build relationships with other students of a similar age group while bonding over a sport they all love to play. They get some expert guidance from the top rugby coaches in the country and from around the world who can give them insights into the game, improving their game in the process. Also invaluable are the interactions they get with the top coaches and the National Team members, as they can ask questions to get a more personal insight into what it really takes for us to compete at the international level.
For me as a chaperone it was a big opportunity to give back something to the community while meeting some young rugby talent and interesting people, making connections with them and remembering what it was like when I started playing rugby and why I kept at it. It is also a great chance to listen to the guest coaches, pick their brain and learn what they think about the game.
The best part of camps when I was younger, was meeting new people. I find rugby has a very sport specific, and unique culture of friendships and acceptance. In combination with being on the field and learning new skills from the coaches - as well as new skills from campers, being in dorm rooms and experiencing a "tour type" atmosphere is also a huge part of this camp. The campers get top notch coaching from a variety of coaches with very different and original backgrounds and styles. The greater variety of coaches - the greater variety of skills that can be picked up and learned. Having current players as "Camp Leaders" offers the campers a current and more relatable experience as well. Not more than 6 years ago I would be attending this camp as well. So it also offers a very attainable goal and shows that there is a path for them and more so a real opportunity to get to the top level of rugby in Canada. This is truly the best setup for a rugby camp one can attend, from the food and the rugby, to the lifelong friends you can make. It's like no other.
What I get out of the camp is a very special experience. I am very humbled to be asked to come back for a 3rd year and help out with the camp. What the campers offer to me is something that can only be produced in the style of camp that this is. Whether it's hanging out in the common room, telling rugby stories while watching TV, or hanging out on the field after training and helping a player with his or her pass or kick. It all means so much to a young player like me who owes a lot not only to Island Rugby, but to many of the same coaches that are coaching at this camp. The majority of the coaches at the camp this year have had a direct role in my path to the National Senior Men's 15/7s programs. It gives me a chance to share the same lessons and my own visions of how the game is played along with the future of rugby in Canada. I look forward to my email every year from Mr. Dukelow for this experience, this year is no different.
Athletes truly excel when we focus on the process as opposed to the outcome. Developing each athleteís athleticism and cognitive decision-making sets them up for future sport success. The Shawnigan Lake Camp does just this. It gives every athlete the opportunity to develop rugby skills with proper technique in a supportive environment. Athletes are given the freedom and resources to explore their own potential and desires. It also introduces these young athletes to the camaraderie of the game, which in my opinion is what makes this sport so incredibly wonderful.
What did I get out of the camp - Inspiration. When I see fearless young girls following their passion it is truly contagious and inspirational.
MORE ABOUT THE CAMP
Gary Dukelow, camp director, played his club rugby at Cowichan and represented Canada 14 times between 1980 and 1990, playing in the front row. He also played rugby and taught in Japan for three years.
The Shawnigan Lake Rugby Academy website is located at: http://www.slssummerrugbyacademy.com/ and contains registration forms for the coaches and the youth programs. The cost of the camp is $799 which includes full board for the week.