August 28, 2013

Bobby Orr's Summer Camp

Many of you undoubtedly have fond or not-so fond memories of summer camp from your youth. I never got to go to one, but I sure know which one I would have chosen if I could have gone! Bobby Orr's very own sports camp for boys!

From 1966 to apparently as late as 1988, you could have gone to the Bobby Orr-Mike Walton Sports Camp on the shores of Lake Couchiching in Orillia, Ontario.

The camp, which featured 180 acres and 2 miles of sandy beach frontage at Owissa Lodge, ran nine weekly sessions of camping for boys between the ages of 7 and 14. I found an old advertisement stating the prices, although I am not sure which year it is from. Prices were $140.00 for a one week session and $270.00 for two weeks. Talk about a bargain!

Obviously hockey played a starring role in this sports camp. Orr and Walton were the lead instructors, while Bill Watters and later Tom Watt served as the camp director and Bob Haggert was the camp administrator. Several NHL players assisted the hockey program over the course of the summer, including Terry O'Reilly, Dale Tallon, Marcel Dionne, Billy Harris, Syl Apps Jr., Dave Burrows, Rick MacLeish, Jim Rutherford and John Garrett. Every camper received at least two hours of on-ice instruction each day.

When Orr and company bought the land there was a 4 sheet curling rink included. The Orr group turned that into a hockey rink.

There were also up to ten other live-in instructors were there all summer for water and land activities not pertaining to hockey. Non hockey activities included boating and water safety, including learning to operate a canoe and going water skiing. Somehow they also found time to teach tennis, golf and basketball too.

Saturday nights were for triple-header movies, while Sunday was campfire night. Busses would take the boys to church, if they so wished. Special outings were also planned, including visiting historical Native Canadian villages, taking scenic boat cruises, going to baseball games and stock car races and even going to Team Canada's practice in 1976.

This whole sports camp, including the property, was purchased by Bobby Orr Enterprises. If I am not mistaken, that was the company Alan Eagleson set up in Bobby's name and abused liberally.  Walton, another Eagleson client, was said to own just 5% of the company. Apparently Eagleson sold the property in 1988 to property developers and he probably made an absolute killing on the investment. Whether Orr and Walton ever saw their proper return out the deal remains a mystery to me. Apparently the land remained untouched and was again for sale in 1993.

How cool would a summer camp run by Bobby Orr be? Well, maybe not as great as it sounds. According to Stephen Brunt in the book Searching For Bobby Orr, "Bobby wasn't all that enthusiastic about putting in the hours."


Kevin aka "yathehabsrule" said...

That's pretty cool Joe. I grew up at the other end of Lake Simcoe from Orillia, and had no idea Orr had a camp there..

You should check with Dennis Kane, as he lived in the Orillia area back in the day.

He may have more ads, his many scrapbooks from his time in the Sunshine City.

jerry said...

i went to this camp for years it was great.all the pro talent you got to meet as well as spending time with your lifelong idol bobby orr.
got to meet andre the giant as well as other wrestlers.all the great hockey players that shakey walton and bobby orr were able to get was amazing

Paul said...

Hey, I went there as a kid the year was when Bobby had his first knee scope, so he did'nt do much ice time, but as a golie, I remember him in shorts and sneekers walking out and taking a few wrist shots on me from center ice,,keep in mind I was only a kid,man what a shot from there,,hurt like heck but I never said a thing. I remember we scrimished the pros, and they played with a open net, in fact I triped Walton with my stick and he got so mad, but tried not to show it. I had my mask made there by Greg Harrison and still have it to this day, a Doug Favel model. I could go on and on, I remember it like it was yesterday. We spent 2 weeks there, my brother and I, what a treat. They broke down the camp kids into teams, I was so lucky playing for the B's. Thanks Bobby for all the great memories, and being from outside Boston, the CUP. Hey Bobby do you still have that old yellow corvet? I have some unreal pictures of you in it. I was wondering can you tell me where I can find an old 45 copy of the song "The Boston Dandy" God Bless Bobby and you too Mike, and the rest of you all for being part of my life and making me grow up right. God Bless

The Bobby Orr Hall of Fame said...

In Bobby Orr's hometown of Parry Sound, Ontario you can stop by and visit the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame! For all those collectors and aficionados, this is a great place to visit to view #4's memorabilia.

Anonymous said...

I was 11 yrs.old when i went to this camp and now i am 52 and i still remember my time there it is were i learned how to water ski. To this day i still have the patch and yellow wind breaker they gave for attending the camp. Great time and memories.GO BRUINS

Anthony said...

In 1976, 3 friends and I went to this school from New York. I was 16 and it was the greatest time of my life. I remember meeting so many wonderful, and talented people. Dale Talon, Pat Boutette, Jack Valiquette, Jim Rutherford, and so many more! Andy Olsen from the Hershey Bears was our team leader. I still have the photo with Bobby Orr and Shakey Walton!! For those who were there that summer, you can never forget our trademark, "silent cheer" we started on the ice!
God Bless Everyone from that place! Anthony D

Shaftesbury said...

A good friend of mine attended this camp in 1974 and maintained that is was awesome and the Bobby Orr was engaged and incredible with the Kids ... so there !

David L said...

I had the privilege of going to this camp in 1973 . My fondest memory was while playing as a young goal tender I had to go up to Bobby Orr and tell him I needed to go to the locker room to pee! Bobby took my goalie gloves and put them on and then took my goalie stick and filled in for me while I relieved myself.
This camp offered so many activities and great memories as a young hockey player.

Bruce Weiner said...

I went to this camp 2 years in a row I remember Jim shone field getting his jaw broken and I was pretty happy about that being from Boston and all I also remember my worst dream come true and crying like an infant when bobby signed with the Blackhawks I was their.rot in hell Alan eagalson

David Pike said...

David Findlay, Ohio said, I went to this camp in 1974. I remember ice time in the morning and afternoon.We had to swim each day in the coldest lake water I've ever been in. Waterpollo, skiing, and sailing. That's when a company called Hobie gave the camp it's newest invention, "Wind Surfers" to demo to the campers to see if we liked them.I remember thinking they were too unstable and would never make it!Boy was I wrong! I still have my CCM wooden stick signed by Bobby and Mike along with my Lange skates with no plastic on the blades. I get some strange looks when I take my kids skating in Atlanta Ga. I too met Andre the Giant that summer! Fond memories!

Warren Shaw said...

Bobby Orr by all accounts was a wonderful ambassador of the sport and the camp would be full if they still had it now.
The memories we keep as children are priceless and Orr helped cement them.

Bob Kirby- Newfoundland said...

In 1977 my Dad came to both my brother(13) and I(12) and asked us if we would like to go to the Bobby Orr-Mike Walton Sports Camp. We were both hockey nuts so he never had to worry about a 'no' answer. We were very surprised at the size of the camp but most different for us was when our parents dropped us off and left us in the camp for the week. They had everything there. We saw both Bobby and Mike, Darryl Sittler, Bobby Hull, Mike Palmateer, Dale Talon, Bruce Boudreau and many other. Bobby wasn't on the ice as he was a Blackhawk then and had the knee surgery. It was the highlight of my hockey career. My parents went out of their way to make this a memorable event and to this day we have the jackets, pucks, registration forms and list of who was in the camp with us, pictures with Bobby and Mike by the big puck. Wow! I never forgot the airline strike as well while we were there and we had to hang around Toronto till the strike was over and I even got to see Maple Leaf Gardens. Brings me back to 1977.

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