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.

 

 

 

 

69 Responses to “Camping with Bobby Orr”

  1. The Goog says:

    Wow, that must have been pretty amazing. It kind of makes me wish there was a Stephen King Camp!
    You’d sleep all day and stay up all night crafting scary stories around the fire.

  2. Gary says:

    That would be perfect for you The Goog! You either need to write the man with your idea or put it together yourself. I’m sure that there are alot of his fans who would love to attend!

  3. I attended a 2 week session at The Orr-Walton sports camp in 1974 when I was 10. I have some very fond memories of my time there. I recall the day that Bobby showed up in a white Rolls Royce, and If I’m not mistaken he had a son that was born that same week.

    Great memories, great time, thanks guys !!!!

  4. Gary says:

    That’s awesome that you got to attend the camp! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Scifinds says:

    So how come you never went to the camp? Too busy bowling?

  6. Gary says:

    Good question. Actually, I’ve never been to any camp. I spent my summer’s as a youth playing baseball and whiffle ball everyday.

  7. jeff twohey says:

    great info!!As a former camper and employee of the camp ,this site brought back some great memories.if you have any other pictures ,id love to see them!!!

  8. Gary says:

    Thanks for reading Jeff! Unfortunately that’s all the camp items that I have been able to collect. I’m sure you have some great stories from your days there. I’d love to hear them or see any items from the camp that you might still have.

  9. tania says:

    we just found a photo in a white sleeve. bobby orr and a camper. Autographed “to john best regards bobby orr” numbered 75-26. I’m assuming it was 1975 and then numbered 26 to know which camper to give it to? do you know anything about these?

  10. Gary says:

    I’m not 100 % sure, but I seem to remember someone telling me once that Orr would take a picture with every camper and autograph it for him. That is what it sounds like you have. I’m assuming that the photo you have doesn’t belong to any family member and was something that you just picked up.

  11. tania says:

    Yes we were at a yardsale…mostly junk…and my husband saw a picture frame, picked it up and said I know who that is. He brought it to guy and asked how much. The guy said 25 cents. We got in the car and he was giggling. He said this is bobby orr. We brought it home, opened the frame and it had the picture inside a white sleeve on the flap opposite the picture was the autograph. He couldn’t be happier. It would be nice to know who John was and if he was anybody that went on the nhl.

  12. Gary says:

    You got a bargain for 25 cents. Very nice find!

  13. Greg says:

    I also went to the camp and it was one of the best summers of my life. I am not sure what year it was, but I think it was around 74 or 75. I know I still have a box of stuff from camp packed away, that I should probably dig out. I remember Mike Palmateer (goalie for the Leaf’s) being parked right beside us when we were getting ready to leave, and he took the time to let us take some pictures with him. He was great, but I can’t really say the same about Sittler, he acted like he couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Is there anything even left of the site, or has it all been tore down?

  14. Gary says:

    Thanks for the comment! I think that the camp was sold off sometime in the nineties. Not sure what’s left of it. If you ever dig the box out I’d love to know what you have.

  15. Scott Wagner says:

    I was killing some time and I googled the Camp name and came across this info…I worked at the camp the last couple years it was open and have some wonderful memories. The pros who attended were great with the campers. My second year I instructed for 4 weeks and had a chance to skate with Bobby…He was just getting over another knee operation and was training for Chicago….I read a comment by Jeff Twohey…we worked there at the same time…I think i have a picture of Jeff and myself with 3 other councilors plus Bobby and Mike…

  16. Gary says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting Scott! I can only imagine how great it must have been working there and interacting with Bobby as well as the other pros.

  17. Paul Harrison says:

    I attended Orr Walton Camp twice in the seventies (1973 and 75), I would have been thirteen and fifteen.
    I had the time of my life.
    We feared the camp counsellors who were in charge of us(ours was Don Maloneyof Ranger fame) and we looked forward to skating with the pros and just playing hockey.
    It was a kid’s dream come true.
    I have kept all of my Bobby Orr things that I collected as a kid.
    We need more heroes like Bobby Orr.

  18. Gary says:

    Thanks Paul! That is one of the best comments I have ever gotten. I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence.

  19. Ed MacNeill says:

    I worked at the camp for 5 summers in the kitchen with Warren Henderson. I got to know Bobby quite well. My favorite pro’s were the O’Sheas and Jim Rutherford. I would work in the afternoon and make sandwiches and snack for all the pro when they got a break from teaching. Great memories. I went back to the camp in the late 90’s and was breaking down, what a shame. Everything good you’ve ever heard about Bobby is true a great guy.

  20. Gary says:

    Thanks for the memories Ed! It seems like everyone who worked there have nothing but great things to say about Orr and the camp in general.

  21. Paul Perry says:

    Bobby, Mike ,
    Just a note of THANKS for so many great memories. Being a kid back in them days was so speical and so very simple. I was lucky enough to have spent 2 weeks with you. Bobby what ever happened to that old yellow covet? Living just oustide Boston MA, and being from a single parent home, my mom worked day and night to get my brother and me there. I even had my golie mask made there and still have it to this day. Greg Harrison made it, and it is the Doug Favell style, painted sunburst ,blue and white for my teams colors back home. I just happened across this site and had to say THANK YOU for being such a VERY SPEICAL part of my life growing up with out a dad. May God have a speical place for you in his home in the end and remember your always welcome here in Boston MA.

  22. Gary says:

    Thanks for the great comment Paul! Glad that the post brought back some great memories!

  23. Richard Rider says:

    I have Mike Walton’s summer camp jacket for sale. His name is written on the front, with big Orr-Walton triangle on the back. Not a big jacket, Walton only weighed about 165lbs!

  24. Gary says:

    That’s a great piece of memorabilia Richard! Did you attend the camp? How much are you asking for the jacket?

  25. drrobert says:

    wow,
    i am not sure how i found this site but i was remembering my pucks (orr walton) and not sure where they went, then i thought i would look on the internet and see if i could buy one…….. memories flooded me…. I attended 3 years and my main counselor for that time was Dave Malony who was 3 years older than me and was drafted (not by the bruins – as planned – but by the Rangers). I was Dave’s favored little “shit” and entered several competitions with him (canoe races, etc …) and we won overall competition one year (I think there was running, biking, canoeing etc… like a marathon)…. thanks Davey….
    He thought I was unusual because I played in St. Louis and was the only one there in the early “70s – a product of the St. Louis hockey programs…. which are now really cool an common. I have talked to Dave a few times and he had a great career. He offered me his job at the camp as counselor when he was drafted (early at age 17 – due to the NHL’s response to WHL competition when they started drafting earlier than the NHL to steal the younger prospects). I think that was the only year (or two) that the NHL allowed 17 year-olds to enter the NHL. Anyway – the camp was really progressive and full of talent and i won several pucks and got to skate with the bomb of the bomb. Thank you Bobby, and Mike and all the other guys that were there for me (Bill Barber buddy). I really had a great time and i am linked and involved in hockey for all of my life due to this. My son is now playing juniors……. on yeah…. I turned Dave down as I was on my way to Sweden the next year, but if my parents had been more proactive and involved – things might have been very different. Nevertheless, I loved the camp and appreciated all the guys who got me through……. lets go blues….. (still a fan and player) love YA

  26. drrobert says:

    Oh, by the way,
    I am now trying to build an ice arena in my small western Idaho town of Sandpoint, Idaho (60 miles from the B.C. border) and need any help I can garner. We have a tax-deductible corp so if anyone wants to help me build youth hockey in a small town – like I enjoyed – Please help me. Go to our web site – jpcenter.com and help us (208-290-8515) Rob
    …..thank you all…..especially Bobby

  27. James Rodgers says:

    I was there in 1975. Bobby Orr was endorsing an orange juice label and my dad was a frozen food buyer. My dad was offered a free spot at the camp and sent me. I have great memories of the great players who coached us and the veterans that spoke to us, like Gerry Cheevers. Bobby Orr was a class act, his wife had a baby while we were in camp and we got bubble gum cigars. I recall he went on the ice and skated circles around us without a stick, shooting on our goalie with his skates.

    We were in awe of him. The Canadian kids all skated circles around me, a Boston area kid. I got to be the quarterback when my team played football which is funny because I sucked. They all sucked worse when it came to football. It took only a little bit of the sting out of little French-Canadian boys whipping my butt on the ice every day.

    Awesome experience. Thank you Mr. Orr.

  28. James Rodgers says:

    Dr Rob, I just read your entry. It reminded me, I had Dave as a counselor too (in ‘75) just before he went to the Rangers. I have great memories from him, including him putting me in the net for lacrosse and told me (never played before) “I’ll keep it low.” A few seconds later I was on the ground wondering where the train was that just ran over me. He launched that plastic coated cannonball at my jaw. I laugh just thinking of it. He also gave me $25 when my hockey gloves came up missing. He thought he lost my mail because I told him my dad sent me money in a letter. When I got home to Boston my dad told me he never sent me any money. He figured I would survive without it. Sorry Dave, you were a great counselor.

  29. drrobert says:

    That is funny and sounds like Dave the “teen”. My memory is of him laying on his top bunk with “Smoke on the Water” playing at full volume…..ouch – it still hurts. It is amazing as now my son is the age Dave was then….. Played pick-up hockey with a bunch of 18 year-olds today and, although I can’t keep up, the game is still as fun as ever.

  30. James Rodgers says:

    Funny that I alway think of Dave Maloney as this big (old) adult, but I was only 13, so I guess he was to me at the time. Do you remember how cold that lake was? I try (unsuccessfully) to water ski in it. They told me to hang on at all costs on my very first try – a dock start. I remember looking like a cross between aquaman and superman as I flew horizontally across the lake on my belly.

  31. Richard Rider says:

    Selling Mike Walton’s jacket from the Orr-Walton Sports Camp. It has camp crest on the front and a larger silk screen crest on back. Mike Walton’s name embroidered on the front!

  32. Kate says:

    Gary,
    I found a sketchbook of my brothers, who attended this camp. Amid the drawings are autographs of Bobby Orr, Mike Walton , Dave Maloney, Don Tannahill, Jack Lynch and many others, which I am unable to identify… I am looking for help identifying the autographs and have been unable to locate anything online.. Do you have any suggestions?

  33. Gary says:

    Hi Kate, your best bet is to take it to a local sportscard shop and see if they can help you identify the signatures. If you want to email me picture I will see if I can recognize anyone. Unfortunately I don’t think you’ll find anything useful online.

  34. Stephen says:

    Greetings – I have just returned from my mother’s house (cleaning up some old boxes in basement) when I discovered my personally aautographed copy of “Orr On Ice”. I attended OWHC in 1967-68 and was likely the worst hockey player there – however I was perhaps the best tennis player (wrong camp?) … everyday in the afternoon I played Doubles with Bobby Orr as my partner against Mike Walton and someone else – my best memory of the week long experience. The only attendee that I met and recall advancing to an elite level of hockey was Frank Nigro. I remember Bobby in the rink at centre ice, calling his shots and hitting goal posts and cross bars etc.
    Thannks for the original post and for rekindling some great memories – just thought I would share some of mine!

  35. Gary says:

    Thanks Stephen for sharing your stories! Very jealous that you got to attend the camp!

  36. Keith says:

    Two of my friends attended the camp in the early, mid 70s. There family camped nearby. They brought back a large poster of Bobby, skating our of the corner with the puck on his stick and his head up. They had is autographed for me. Bobby signed it, in blue ball point pen, on the front, and Mike Walton signed it in pencil on the back. Great photo. I dreamed of going to this camp but on our income, and with six kids in the family, it wasn’t in the cards. But I have the poster mounted and framed and both signatures are visible though the ball point pen one of Bobby’s is fading. It is still a great piece of memorabilia. I grea up in Bedford New Hampshire. I started skating when I was about 5 in the back yard on our pond. I still play in Anchorage at age 50. Bobby was such an inspiration to us all. What an amazing sports role model.

  37. Keith says:

    Two of my friends attended the camp in the early, mid 70s. They brought back a large poster of Bobby, skating out of the corner with the puck on his stick and his head up. They had it autographed for me. Bobby signed it, in blue ball point pen, on the front, and Mike Walton signed it in pencil on the back. Great photo. I dreamed of going to this camp but on our income, and with six kids in the family, it wasn’t in the cards. But I have the poster mounted and framed and both signatures are visible, though the ball point pen one of Bobby’s is fading. It is still a great piece of memorabilia. I grew up in Bedford New Hampshire. I started skating when I was about 5 in the back yard on our pond. I still play in Anchorage at age 50. Bobby was such an inspiration to us all. What an amazing sports role model.

  38. Gary says:

    Thanks for the memories Keith!

  39. Doug D says:

    I spent 3 summers at Orr-Walton Hockey Camp. Great memories… I learned to water ski while I was there as well. I came across three framed photos of me and Bobby Orr and that is why I Googled the camp and found your post.

    Too many memories to list but I remember that ANYBODY could show up on the ice and I remember specifically skating with Doug Jarrett (Chicago BH) and being amazed by the power of his wrist shot. Great memories for any kid lucky enough to attend…

  40. Gary says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories Doug!

  41. Jack Cuthbert says:

    I worked there summer of 1972, the year Dave was drafted
    To the Kitchener Rangers! Was. A fun time!

    Bobby was there a lot and was more than gracious to the kids, he genuinely liked instructing and playing hockey! He was especially nice to all of us!

    Long time ago! Great fun! Boots, Merch, John Frame, Rick Chattrong, Adrienne Gautier!

  42. Marc St Amant says:

    WOW, thanks for the memories. I actually went for 6 summers in the 70’s always for a full month. My Dad always told me it was so that I can learn English and enjoy learning it as I play hockey. Now that I’m in my fifties, I think it was more so that they can have some peace and quiet….I did the same with my kids. The first picture I have with Bobby Orr I’m a foot or so shorter than him and the last picture by the big hockey stick I’m taller than him by a foot or so. The early years were the best as Bobby Orr was living on the camp site. As he became more of a super star he showed up once in a while in a chopper, did his things on the ice and back in the chopper. Going for a month gave you some privileges as after the two week sessions we all went on a camping trip during that week end. I will always remember the time I got in a fight with Bill Barber…The kids who were in all-star teams were lucky enough to be part of the evening games. The players were the instructors, Bobby Orr and some of the more “talented” kids. I was fortunate enough to be part of those kids and played many games with Bobby Orr. No better memories of having Bobby Orr as your defence man and when you go back on the bench Bobby Orr tells you “ go shit Marc”…I never thank my Dad for all those memories mostly as being from a remote location in northern Quebec playing hockey was almost an all season sport so by going to the camp meant I never had a “normal” summer with my friends but I have nothing but good memories of that sport camp. Beside hockey we played all sorts of other sports. Being French gave me a special status as my English was beyond rough. Bobby Orr called me pea soup but I always thought he was saying pisou which stand for chicken shit in French. I got upset more than once and it’s only years after that I realized that he was calling pea soup not pisou. I don’t eat pea soup anyway. On my last summer I played tennis with Bobby Orr almost every evening and enjoy the laugh and he was not the greatest tennis player out there. Again thanks for the memories and thank you Dad for giving this opportunity.

  43. Gary says:

    Great memories Marc. Thanks for sharing them!

  44. Michel C says:

    Just surfing random Bobby Orr sites because I read an advance copy of his autobiography (out next week) and was reminded of a couple of summers at Orr Walton in the 70s. I still have my Orr Walton beanie hat — with Bobby and Mike’s autographs. And still have fond memories of many hours in the front lobby playing “mini hockey” with mini sticks and little rubber pucks; getting my a** kicked by none other than Bobby Orr in tetherball; and yes, like Mr. St. Amant above, stopping both Bobby and Rick McLeish’s shot in the late day counselor’s game. I got to play that year because Jim Ruterford pulled a muscle… and I guess I was the next best goalie in camp. Excellent memories. Thanks for keeping them alive.

  45. Gary says:

    Hi Michel. Thanks for sharing your memories of the camp. I’ve had a few people write in saying what an awesome time they had.

  46. Gerard Gendreau Jr. says:

    I had some good time at this summer camp. Bobby Orr would call me Frenchy because I was one of the very few french from Quebec. I remember two brothers from quebec ,I think st- Amant from val d’or and also the two brothers and there cousins from Sorel Philippe.. and the 2 Lussier brothers. I had meet so many Hockey personality such as Tony Esposito who came to visite his friend Bobby Orr,the detroit goalie Mike Rutheford( I was a Goalie at the time) Bruce Boudreau now an NHL coach, Marcel Dionne who I could speak french with while running after his tennis ball to be around him, Joe bucchino ,Dave and Done Malhoney who were very young and playing for
    Kitchener in the Junior hockey league,Also remember seeing a young girl
    who was a tennis player who came to see here 2 brother (I think it was carling Basset) also I remember a big Limousin and seeing Andre the Giant the restler coming out of the car. He was so big. I remember Terry O reilly coming to visit Bobby. I remember Mr and Mrs Johson the nurse and there 2 sons , and the cook who was so nice with me .I have many pictures with the big puck,and one of my groupr on the ice with Joe bucchino and Dave Malhoney. Hope you remember a few of these moments if you were there with me Gerard

  47. Chris says:

    Hi,

    My uncle has three of the Orr-Walton Sports Camp mini-hockey sticks….HOWEVER, the one he gave me has what appears to be a “ink-pen” signature of just Bobby Orr along the shaft and nothing on the blade like you have pictured. On the blade there is the Orr-Walton Sports Camp logo. The other two mini-sticks that he has, does have the facsimile signatures on both sides of the blade as your picture has above. My question is if the signature on the shaft of the stick is real and authentic, and secondly, what do these sticks appraise at? (i.e. give me a good figure so I convince him not to let his grandchildren PLAY WITH THEM!) Thanks for any help!

    - Chris

  48. Gary says:

    Hi Chris. The signed stick I would value at between $100 – $150. The two others between $25 – $75. They come up on Ebay every now and then. Thanks for writing in!

  49. Gary says:

    Thanks for the memories Gerard!

  50. Jarid says:

    I went to the camp in either 1974 or 1975. I was 11 and a goaltender from Long Island NY. Dave was my counselor and if not for him I could not have made it thru. He told me he was going to be a Ranger and was always asking me about NY. The thing that stands out in my memories are Dave letting me drive the ski boat and having to eat breakfast while it was still dark out in full goalie gear just before morning skate. The French Canadian kids were brutal! Fast forward about 30 years and I bumped into Dave in a barber shop in Greenwich CT where I was living (so does Dave) and I got to talk to him about that summer.

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