May/June 2017

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DOES YOUR FACILITY HAVE EMPTY ICE TIME DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS? Many facilities run into this issue once the long winter season is over, especially if there are other local rinks they are competing with. Renting this ice time to an outside company is often preferable, but what if you can't find anyone—what can you do to fill this ice time? The answer: run your own in-house summer camps and programs. Phillips Academy, for whom I'm the hockey director, was confronted with a situation seven years ago when a major ice customer moved their camp program to another facility (a loss of $40,000 in revenue). Unable to find a new tenant, we decided to develop our own hockey school and began offering the surrounding community with our own spin on summer day camps and evening programs. One of our primary concerns was to develop new programs which would not compete with our existing rental customers, so the need to be creative in this process was crucial. We needed to think "outside the box;" look at different age groups, combining two sports in one camp, educational components, the level of play (recreational versus competitive) and, most importantly, what would make our camps and programs more unique than the competition. Early on, this process can and will be a rocky road. You need to start small and then build on your success. As they say, "Rome wasn't built in a day!" Having previously run a figure skating camp through our Skating School, we were able to use that model to begin our hockey camps. We knew that marketing was going to be key so, to create an identity, we named the camps after our school's unofficial mascot, Gunga the Gorilla. Our local supplier of apparel created the logo and, thus, "Gunga Hockey" was born! In January of year one, we traded a free hockey registration with a local photographer who came to the rink and ran a photo shoot with local kids—boys and girls—in full equipment wearing Gunga jerseys. We had our staff in uniform conducting drills and spent an hour or so taking many photos to be used in our promotional materials over the next several years. While we weren't sure exactly what programs we were going to be offering, we wanted a variety of action photos that we could use as we grew the program. That summer, Gunga Hockey offered one five-day camp—our unique SSAT Prep/Prep School Camp. We PHOTOS: STEVE MOORE In-House Summer Camps– Are They Worth It? by STEVE MOORE, CIT/HOCKEY DIRECTOR AT PHILLIPS ACADEMY REAL PROGRAMS Summer Camps 40 / MAY.JUNE.2017 USICERINKS.COM THIS SUMMER, WE ARE OFFERING NINE CAMPS AND PROGRAMS ON OUR SCHEDULE; WE EXPECT TO GENERATE MORE THAN $100,000.

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