Camping with Bobby Orr

So it’s the end of June and school is out for the summer. What are you going to do with your son who is between the ages of 7 and 15? Let him sit at home and watch t.v. all day? I don’t think so. Instead, why don’t you send him away for two weeks to the Bobby Orr – Mike Walton Sports Camp.

Of course, you would have had to have done this between the years 1966 and 1988 when the camp was in operation. If you did, then he would have had the chance to skate with Bobby as well as other hockey players from that era and received personal instruction.

This week’s post is all about the Orr – Walton camp, its history and memorabilia.

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This ad for the camp was most commonly seen in hockey magazines.

Here is an actual brochure for the camp.

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The flip side gives you an idea of how the camp looked as well as all the activites that you could have partaken in.

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Here is the front and back of the insert included with the brochure. It tells you what other hockey players will be in the camp and what weeks they are appearing.

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The flip side goes into more detail about the camp, such as health and saftey issues, air travel and special events. I think it’s interesting that they included pictures of the camp nurse and head chef. I guess it was in the interest of full disclosure.

This is what the application looked like.

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Now for a little history about the camp:

In 1966 Bobby Orr Enterprises Ltd. Purchased a 180-acre tract of land on the east side of Lake Couchiching, near Orillia, upon which sat an old resort called Owaissa Lodge. 

The Orr-Walton Sports Camp was established at that site, and Mike Walton, a young prospect on the Toronto Maple Leafs and an Eagleson client, was brought in as Orr’s partner (5% owner). 

Bill Watters, a Toronto high school teacher who grew up in Orillia, was hired to run the Camp.  Tom Watt also assisted Bill Watters in Camp Director duties. Watters, and later Rick Curran, another camp employee, also developed a close relationship with Bobby Orr.  Orr and Walton became best friends.

Rounding out the family was Bobby’s father Doug Sr., who was convinced that he should quit his job at CIL in Parry Sound to take a Director role at the Camp, and Mike Walton’s father, who was appointed head of “clean up”.

At its peak, the Camp saw 700 students over the course of the summer, with every boy paying $140 for a one week session and $270 for two weeks.  The kids got hockey instruction from the pros, and could also enjoy the more standard summer camp lineup of swimming and boating and the great outdoors.

The Camp was shut down in 1988 as Alan Eagleson sold the property to a developer who later planned on building a subdivision.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

For those of you who don’t know who Alan Eagleson was, he was Orr’s agent who turned out to be crook who stole from Orr as well as other NHL players. He eventually served time in jail, but that’s a whole other story.

Now that you know the history, let’s look at some other camp memorabilia.

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Here is a pennant from the camp that looks to be from the early ’70’s.

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The souvenier mini-stick had a facsimile Orr autograph on one side and a Mike Walton one on the other.

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Since this a primarily a hockey camp, you just know that pucks must have been available.

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The left puck looks like your standard camp giveaway, while the one on the right was given to the winners of the various tournaments that they ran.

The camp itself was more than just hockey. There was also standard camp programs such as swimming, canoeing, waterskiing and sailing. Also included were tennis, basketball, golf and lacrosse. Hockey, of course, was the main reason for coming to the camp, with each camper getting between 2 1/2 and 3 hours of ice time twice a day with the pros.

Sessions ran from mid June to the beginning of September. Bobby himself was not at the camp the entire summer. The brochure guaranteed that he would be in the camp four days of each two week session. As far as I’m concerned, four days of instruction from Bobby and getting to hang out with him would have been amazing.

Thanks again for reading and see you next week with more great Bobby Orr collectibles.

 

 

 

 

67 Responses to “Camping with Bobby Orr”

  1. Bob Rodkin says:

    Boy, does this bring back some fabulous memories! The best of my childhood! Thanks for posting this, and for providing this venue for comments. I attended the camp for 3 or 4 Summers in the late 60s, each time my Dad signed me up for the first week, he’d come to pick me up at week’s end and I’d convince him to let me stay…and I stayed the entire Summer each year. Probably knew and played with a few of the other commenters here. Again, thanks for posting this Gary.

  2. Gary says:

    That’s awesome Bob! Thanks for sharing your memories and commenting!

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks Gary…sorry it took me so long to write back. Sadly enough, the grandkids broke the other two sticks….i’m hanging on to this one as a cherished collectable along with Mr. Orr’s photo that he signed when I was a child! I’d love to get both of them framed together some day.

  4. Pete says:

    Wow – thanks for the memories here! I went for a week session in 1969. I remember Bobby liked to joke around with the kids … he would do imitations of pros at the time for us to guess (i.e. the Gordie Howe blink). He called me “Red Mont” because I had a Canadians jersey. When Bobby was joking around Mike Walton would say “C’mon Bobby were trying to teach them something here”. Lacrosse was hard for me to pick up though. Still have the camp patch around somewhere.

  5. Ken Bayne says:

    This brings back some of the fondest memories of my childhood (74-76). The picture of Bobby/Mike and I behind that giant puck still hangs on my wall.Being a “Yankee” with a love and passion for a Canadian game made me an odd duck on both sides of the pond. Orr Walton was where I learned to play and appreciate the game the right way. Thank you Bobby, Mike and everyone ever involved with this camp. You helped prepare me for so much more than hockey.

    Sincerely,
    Ken Bayne
    Saginaw, MI

  6. Tracy Colclough says:

    i went for a week in ‘74 or ‘75 with a friend, We were both from the Boston. What a NIGHTMARE that camp was. They starved us, never told us it was a half sized rink, I won the 1 on 1 compition as a defenseman and they played me in the Orr/Walton games as a winger,which thankfully our team won as we got extra food as a prize. We escaped one night to gas station at the end of the driveway to get food, it was that bad. Orr played tennis most days with a WHA owner that came in a limo. One turn in a week to water ski. Jim Rutherford and the Maloney bros were cool. Worked 2 years delivering papers to earn the money to go. Not well spent in hind site. Still have my pix of Bobby, Swoop and me sitting behind the big puck. 1st & last I saw them.

  7. I remember growing up in the late 1960s through high school graduate in 1979 and idolizing Bobby Orr not only as an incredible hockey player but as a good human being through his lifestyle, such as donating his time – efforts & money to children’s hospitals and through his sports camp he and Mike Walton ran from late 60s to late 80s.
    I’ve never heard a bad word said about Robert Gordon Orr and this world needs heroes that lead by example of just being themselves as human.
    God Bless to Bobby and his family and thank you Bob for the signed B/W picture you sent via my request in your Black Hawks uniform after you continued your career there but, I’m glad you’re with the Bruins organization ; )

  8. Jay Smith says:

    Nothing but good memories of this camp. I was there in the summer of 1973 for one week. If I am not mistaken there was a whole team from Quincy, Massachusetts the week I was there. This was one of my most cherished summer memories.

  9. Donald Stokes says:

    I also enjoyed two summers attending the Orr-Walton hockey school and for me, it was and is summers too remember.

    The rink was small, the steaks were not great, but I loved each and every moment.

    I have a number of the souveneirs listed.

    A couple of the quirky things I remember was a fellow goaltender from Mass. that had a custom made mask. I also seem to recall that G. Kluzak (former Boston player) also attended from high school in Saskatchewan.

    Thankyou for posting this nice article.

  10. Gary says:

    Thanks for the comment and memories Donald. Glad that you had a great time there!

  11. bobby says:

    Hi, I have a 1976 orr walton brochure with envelope (nice olympic logo on it too) plus membership form and new address card ..

  12. Thomas Bollr says:

    I was there in 73 or 74 and it was great. After practice one day four or five of us decided it would be fun to jump Bobby Orr, not one of our better ideas as he grabbed us and tossed us and we flew through the air and crashed to the ice. Bill Barber was showing us how to shoot a wrist shot, which of course we already knew how to do and wips one off towards the goalie at the other end of the rink who isn’t envolved in our drill and Barber yell’s ” block it with your face mask” the kid turns as the puck goes right by his head. Barber thought that was hilarious, we were a bit appalled. They are great memories.

  13. Eric Stahl says:

    This really brings back some awesome memories of when I was young and thought I was good at Hockey. I wish I still had my old Bobby Orr stick that I got when I was at the camp. I remember we trashed the house when I got home playing indoor hockey. Those were some great times.

    Eric

  14. Al Snow says:

    I remember the camp fondly. I spent 2 weeks at the camp for 4 to 5 years. My parents drove me up from NY and we would always spend a night in Toronto on the way up and then dropped me off for the two weeks in summer I always looked forward to. I wanted to become a counselor at the camp but we received the letter that they closed the camp the year before I was old enough.

    I remember the canoe trip across the lake for the Saturday Night bonfire and camp out. Loved the ice time with legends like Marcel Dionne.

    Best story from the camp came on my first time attending and my grandmother rode up with us to the camp. She was balling/crying all the way from NY and kept telling my parents that I was too young to go away for 2 weeks. We pull into the camp and it was pouring, my grandmother gets out of the car weeping and someone starts coming off a ladder leaning up against the wall of the ice rink. He pulls off his rain hood and it was Bobby, he was checking on some guys up on the roof patching a hole that was allowing water onto the ice. He took my grandmother by the hand and we went inside and she kept telling her it was going to be OK and he gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek. She had no idea who he was and asked him if he worked there and he chuckled and said that yes it was his responsibility to oversee all of the boys and make sure they were OK at all times. On the way back home my parents showed my grandmother photos from the camp flyers and she finally realized who she was really talking to.

  15. Rick says:

    Bein’ from the Boston area # 4 was every kids idiol. I was at the camp if u remember correctly the summer of 70, after the Bobby’s game winning S.C. Win. Ritchie Dunn who went on to play for the Sabres was in our class sections. I have nothing but fond memories of that camp. They made us play lacrosse, had no idea about that game, a Canadian thing, and the canoe trips across the lake were interesting, having the counselers tip them over in the middle of the lake, and make us tread water, I can relate with the above mentioned food issues. They certainly didn’t over feed us, and Bobby did play tennis most days when he was there. There were no private one on one’s with #4 so that’s BS. All in all, an experience I’d never forget.

  16. Debbie Taylor(Watters) says:

    I spent quite a few summers at this camp, not as a camper, but as a babysitter for anyone who used it, mostly my brother. Bobby Orr…so approachable, Mike Walton great man, Daryl Sittler great as well. All the counselors, cook, maintenance people put everyday of their summers into this camp and should be proud! Orillia was lucky to have this in their backyard. I wish there was something like this here now for your hockey players. I have pictures with the giant puck and sticks also one by a rock down at the lake. I remember my brother teaching me to waterski for the first time there and embarrassing myself but finally getting up. Awesome memories for me!!!

  17. Jason Rose says:

    I had a great time at that camp. I still have the photo and signed by Bobby Orr and Mike Walton. I still play Hockey today and played Junior hockey.
    Great memories

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