Haliburton County is about to get its first ever multi-sports summer camp on Lake Kashagawigamog. The Highlander caught up with Haliburton Hockey Haven camp owner, Troy Binnie, last week at the arena, where he disclosed that he and his wife have purchased the Halimar Resort as the new premises for Haliburton Hockey Haven. He will be converting the property to a multi-sports summer camp offering residential camp, day camp and will continue to offer ice only camp at the Haliburton arena (where the hockey portion of the camp runs out of). The name will be Haliburton Hockey Haven
“This is a big deal. There is nothing like this in Haliburton County,” Binnie said.He plans to offer hockey, tennis, golf and watersports (including wakeboarding, waterskiing, standup paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking) and swimming lessons at this stage, along with other usual camp activities and games. Additional sports may be added in future based on demand. He said he had been hunting for three years for a property from which to operate his summer camp that was focused mainly on hockey. It took his discussions with Halimar owners, Jan and Suzanne Haedicke, a few months to hammer out a deal that was reached last month. In fact, Jan Haedicke is staying on to help with renovations and transition with the resort. Halimar is nestled in the forest on the
shores of Lake Kashagawigamog, about 9.5 km from the Village of Haliburton, as Binnie says, “Just a slapshot away in the Highlands.” It will be about a five-minute bus ride to the arena for residential campers compared to the 30-minute drive they now undertake from Bark Lake. (Incidentally he will continue to allow the Lake Kashagawigamog cottage association regatta to be run at the new Hockey Haven sports camp property.) Halimar features many air-conditioned cottages for the campers, an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court and basketball court. It has a beautiful, extensive, sandy beach waterfront, ideal for all ages and levels of swimmers.
The main lodge is perfectly suited for a kids summer camp with a full commercial kitchen, dining hall and adjacent games
room. It is also close to golf courses for golf campers. The hockey camp has leased facilities at the Bark Lake Leadership Centre for years for the residential portion of the camp but Binnie said he always wanted to have his own place. “Bark Lake was fantastic. It taught us about camp life. But I am an entrepreneur. I have been involved in property development and custom builds for years.
I always envisioned a camp where I could have my own facility and I could expand to have the programs I think kids want.” He said they found the residential end of the operation was suffering because they didn’t have their own facility. “It was a residential program that we couldn’t really sell as our own because we were renting at Bark Lake.” And, while they are sad to be leaving Bark Lake, they are ecstatic about their new venture. “Our options are endless on our new property on Kash.” Binnie said he will have to do some minor cottage renovations to accommodate counsellor and camper style accommodations in the cabins and will be ready for its grand opening next June.
Despite the move, Binnie said he will continue to be careful about the number of kids per session to ensure the best camp experience, for both on-ice campers and residential/day campers. He does not want to compete with camps that bring 300 participants in per week. Of course, the slogan will have to change from “because it’s hockey” to “not just hockey.” When asked about the viability, he joked that he had “spread-sheeted it to death.” He is confident that he offers a great hockey experience on the ice and can do the off-ice just as well. Indeed, this is the seventh year of the hockey camp at the A.J. LaRue Arena. While it has been running since 1964, when he bought it and took over the reins, it only had 40 students in a one week session of ice-only camp and has now grown enrollment to 650 campers per summer. Binnie currently employs about 10 people to run his summer hockey camp. Joe McTamney, his director of hockey operations, has worked with Troy for years and is thrilled about the new accommodations. They anticipate the number of employees will triple with the multi-sports camp.
There will be a mix of full and part-time jobs. This is great news for summer students.In the end, he said it was his wife who convinced him to make the leap based on the recent growth of the camp and the perfect fit of the Halimar property for Hockey Haven. “Who wouldn’t want to live in cottage country and get to be on the ice every day? I’m excited about where we’re going.”
By Lisa Gervais