When Coach Heidi MacDonald offered the first Adult Skating Camp at the Rink at RiverWalk Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire, in March 2018, little did adult campers know they would be attending skating camp in a most unusual setting.
“My significant other/life partner Dennis Ducharme is a resort developer,” MacDonald said. “He built RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain in 2016.”
In the summer, guests enjoy swimming in the Lagoon Pool with a fountain in the center. In the fall, the magical transition begins. The engineering department begins installing almost 15 miles of tubing and connecting the four compressors which freeze the water.
“Most women want a ring. I’m the lucky one who got a rink,” MacDonald said.
Ten campers attended the first camp in 2018, coached by Olympic Silver Medalist Peter Carruthers, founder of JoySkate Productions Elin Schran and PSA Master-Rated choreographer and founder of ice theatre company AIT Boston John Mucko. World Champion Randy Gardner joined the 2019 coaching staff as the camp grew to 14 skaters.
MacDonald is aware that Mother Nature can be fickle, so the camp holds some on-ice sessions at the rink at Plymouth State University, just in case. This year, Mother Nature did indeed play a trick on campers.
“We were finishing up the private lessons at the rink at RiverWalk,” MacDonald said. “The snow began falling gently. It was almost a snow globe effect, but it only lasted an hour. The snow was coming down faster than Peter could shovel it away. Yes, Peter Carruthers shoveled the ice for the skaters.”
The snow also cancelled the end of camp performance, but a relaxed round table discussion in the Owners Club took place instead, which was truly emotional for all.
“No one was bothered that we didn’t have the performance and no one wanted to leave,” MacDonald said.
Camp lessons included spins, moves, steps and music interpretation with Gardner, arming your performance, movements and emotions with Mucko, ice flow with Schran and finding edges and figures with Carruthers.
“If I had to pick one of so many loves of working with adults I would have to say to experience their joy of every move they perform and every moment they are on the ice,” Mucko said.
MacDonald called the camp atmosphere “magical.” In fact, “#MagicLand” became a camp hashtag. The resort atmosphere and rink are like no other, and skaters leave the camp forming new friendships and so much more.
“Skaters have fun, they get emotional, they support each other and oh yes, they skate too,” MacDonald said. “The absolute best part of the camp is the people. The skaters and coaches are amazing. People who come together as strangers left as a skating family. I’m not sure what I would add but I am learning as we go along. I love getting feedback from the skaters.”
MacDonald admits adult skating camps are becoming popular and are a wonderful activity for adult skaters.
“Adults skate because they love it. They are very supportive of each other and I feel a camp is an amazing way of letting them connect and share their love of our sport,” MacDonald said.
For Gardner, the camp gave that authentic feel to skating in its natural environment.
“Adult skaters come in with so much enthusiasm,” Gardner said. “Each one has their own goals, challenges and colorful personality, even if it’s just a simple turn or basic spin. Once they accomplish it, seeing the joy in their faces, it makes a coach feel so satisfied that we can give them so much for so little.”