Come summertime, the grounds of Breezy Point Hockey Camps are bustling with hundreds of kids enjoying hockey, outdoor activities and camaraderie with fellow athletes.
In the midst of 80-degree, picture-perfect summer days, campers can’t help but spend time indoors on the ice. As they practice their slap shots and stickhandling, Rory Mushlin is at the rink making sure everything runs smoothly.
He’s hasn't been living in the state long, but as the General Manager of Breezy Point Sports, Mushlin knows full well the hockey culture in Minnesota is special.
“You see people in Minnesota and in the Midwest in general that live and breath the sport,” Mushlin said. “You definitely find it more enriched in everyone’s DNA. It’s a part of the culture in Minnesota.”
That culture drives countless players to hockey camps every summer. When they spend time at Breezy Point Hockey Camps in Breezy Point, Minn., they’re provided an elite training experience where they can learn and grow as hockey players, and as kids.
“You see people in Minnesota and in the Midwest in general that live and breath the sport."
- Rory Mushlin,
Originally from New York City, Mushlin spent the past three and a half years in the NHL’s pro circuit before landing at Breezy Point. He’s responsible for all operations of the hockey center.
Muslin is one of the first people at the rink in the morning, and one of the last to leave. He and his staff of counselors, coaches and others have their hands full with an active bunch of kids every week — and that’s the way they prefer it.
From sun up until sun down, they’re ensuring each and every camper gets the full experience of Breezy Point Hockey Camps. Whether those kids are new to the sport or they’ve been playing for years, the staff at Breezy Point recognizes the importance of creating a positive atmosphere.
“I think you learn every day that no one kid is the same,” Mushlin said. “So if you’re not evolving with them, then you’re not successful. I’ve been lucky enough tot be involved in the hockey world, but also the education world for quite some time. To be able to put the two together is unique. I definitely see that being open minded and going with the flow is the best thing.
“You’re continuing to evolve to better yourself; but really you’re doing that betterment for the sake of the kids enjoying themselves, being safe and having fun.”
At Breezy Point Hockey Camps, campers are up for breakfast at 7:30 a.m., and on the ice for their first activity by 8:15 a.m. From dryland training activities to shooting development to core workouts, the variety of activities gives campers a chance to develop their skills.
There’s an athletic trainer on site, and goalie coaches for the kids who want their shot in between the pipes.
“We provide a goalie coach for every on ice session,” Mushlin said. “Not only do have one goalie coach, but we usually have three or four goalie coaches every week.”
Hockey is a priority, yet campers aren’t without a chance to experience the perks of Minnesota in the summertime. A mix of paddleboarding, soccer, volleyball, beach time or other events allows each individual time to partake in activities off the ice.
After dinner, campers participate in an evening skate and round-robin tournament. Parents get a small taste of those tourneys when they come to watch the final games and scrimmages when they pick up their kids on Friday.
Twice per week, each group will also get to go out of camp for a recreational activity. Typical outings include a trip to the local waterpark, a mini-golf course, rock climbing walls or a golf course.
While Mushlin said he believes hockey is important to him, he also believes the ability to step away from the rink from time to time is equally as important. Rory is a mentor for a program called Kinship Partners. The child he mentors isn’t a hockey player,
“Isn’t a hockey player yet,” Mushlin claims with a laugh. “Because of that, that forces me out of the rink a little bit and out of my comfort zone,” Mushlin said. “It makes me a better person. It makes me understand hockey is not everything.
“We want these kids to grow in other ways, not just on the ice. We want them to grow socially. We want them to grow physically and mature. I think that all these different things produce different challenges and different situations.”
As a teaching and recreational based camp, Breezy Point Hockey Camps offers a balance of training and recreation where kids can create lasting memories.
‘We want people to understand that you’re getting the best of both worlds,” Mushlin said. “That you get a lot of hockey and you get quality hockey instruction. On top of that, we also want the kids to be kids. We want them to do the recreation things. We want them to be 11, 12 and 13-year olds and get a chance to hang out with some of their friends, jump on the go-carts, hit the soccer field or jump in the lake. Because why wouldn’t you want to go to the lake in central Minnesota on the lakes area in the middle of summer?”
But Mushlin knows there’s still plenty of time spent on the ice. Even in the summertime—especially in the State of Hockey.
“We definitely have hockey,” Mushlin said. “We have great staff, great coaches, and we really focus on kids being kids.”