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07-12-2012, 11:59 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
An interesting article in the tribune today about the Lightning's summer camp.
Twenty-five children ages 6-15 made the trek from Sweden to take part in the five-day Lightning youth summer camp this week at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon
...according to Thomas Johansson, who helped to coordinate the trip from Stockholm, selling the idea of Florida as a vacation destination with a weeklong hockey camp included. On Wednesday, many of the children wore T-shirts with "I'm going to the hockey camp in Tampa 2012'' printed on the back.
"The families can come here, spend a week with the camp, and then they have the beaches, shopping, the sunshine while their kids are on the ice,'' said Johansson, who brought 10 kids over for the Lightning camp last summer and registered 22 this year. "Then, when the camp is done, they can spend time at the beach, go to Busch Gardens or any other options.''
While the vacation time is a selling point, what about the hockey? After all, Sweden is one of the world's top nations when it comes to producing hockey players and enjoying success in international tournaments, while Florida is not exactly a hotbed for NHL prospects.
After watching how the Lightning ran their youth camp last summer, however, Johansson said there was not much of a dropoff in the instruction the kids receive. Former NHL players such as Brian Bradley, the Lightning's director of youth hockey; Chris Dingman, Dave Andreychuk and Pat Jablonski have taken to the ice at some point this week.
"I would say it's a high-quality camp,'' said Johansson, a veteran in the Swedish Elite League, mainly with Djurgardens. "I have the guts to come here and see it for myself and I see what they do, I know this works.''
Johansson hopes to expand upon the success of this season by bringing as many as 50 kids next year, which might force the Lightning to add a camp to accommodate the group and have room for local campers. Word continues to spread, with a website set up to provide information in Sweden —
. Johansson hopes to grow to the point where they can sell entire vacation packages, including airfare, hotel and theme park tickets.
"The word is starting to get out as we have six different teams from the Stockholm area that are here this year,'' Johansson said. "We hope it's more next year.''
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