COVID cancelled summer camps but created new opportunities


Camp Leader and Skyliners Senior skater Megan McDevitt, writing a message on the OTM Good Luck Wall at US Synchronized Skating Nationals. (Credits: OTM - 2020)

Since the spread of the coronavirus, a big part of the world has been stopped, forcing the cancellation of all events, including the OneTeamMVMT summer camps. Working for the promotion of the sport, the organization offered fans of synchronized skating to meet in another way.

"The pandemic came as a shock to everyone," starts Lisa Carriere, the founder of OneTeamMVMT (OTM). After 3 successful camps in 2019, the organization had 5 camps set up in 2020, starting with Australia in April. "Unfortunately, as the gravity of this situation sunk in - travel and group large gatherings not allowed, and our host rinks forced to close - we had to cancel all camps up to the end of July."

New needs of synchro skaters

The objectives of OTM summer camps are normally to develop skills and community building in grassroots areas. But as the needs of the synchro skaters worldwide have changed in these times, so OTM has as well. "The synchro world needs positivity and encouragement to keep training hard, and ways to feel connected not only to one another, but to our sport. With the cancellation of our camps, this has become our focus for the present time," continues Lisa.

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Europe will still have to wait
This year should have been the first camp in Europe in Eindhoven (NED) for OTM. "We were SO excited to be able to respond to the requests of European skaters who have been asking us for a camp in Europe for years (and in some cases, even traveling to North America to attend our camps in the meantime). Our camp in Eindhoven was a sold out camp which was such a positive sign. It needed to be cancelled of course, but hopefully we will be able to deliver the camp in 2021!"

One camp remaining in Newfoundland, Canada

The only remaining camp at this time, is the August camp in the Canadian province of Newfoundland. "All of the participants for that camp are local (which is a positive factor), but we don’t know what the province will allow as far as group gatherings go, and travel into the province (for our coach and staff)," explains Lisa.

"Synchro camps (of 100+ people) and social distancing are two concepts that are difficult to combine together. It is a shame to lose these development opportunities, but we have to keep focused on the long-term goal of health and safety for all, even if it means short-term sacrifices," she adds.

Virtual camp: Camp Leaders demonstrating Pilates class with Brittany Brie. (Credits: OTM - 2020)

With the COVID pandemic and the cancellation of camps, OTM quickly offered a free “virtual camp” for synchro fans who were at home. "We know people love synchro camps, and we also knew a lot of skaters were stuck at home with no school, no skating, and not much going on to keep them busy. A free online camp, open and available to everyone, and taught by many of our normal “off-ice” camp instructors, seemed like the perfect solution!"

"It was a great way to bring people around the world together"

So the idea came for a free “4-week” online camp every Saturday, with off-ice classes included lessons in flexibility, nutrition, mental training, relaxation, and various types of dance. "The camp itself wrapped up in early May, and the feedback was incredibly positive. It was a great way to bring people around the world together, and give them something to work toward and look forward to," she enthuses.

According to OTM, over 2700 people from 32 countries participate in this virtual camp, including 43 senior skaters (who acted as camp leaders) from teams in Canada, USA, Finland, Russia, Austria and Australia.

Lisa Carriere explains that synchro skaters seemed to really love the variety of the classes, especially the fun hip hop classes with Sam Chouinard. "It was such a unique opportunity to get to learn from renowned coaches that skaters may not otherwise have access to!"

Lisa Carriere, founder of OneTeamMVMT, trying out the choreography from Hip Hop class with Sam Chouinard in her living room. (Credits: OTM - 2020)

"There are so many skills that go into making a good synchro skater!"
"I think it’s important to remember there are so many skills that go into making a good synchro skater! Dance lessons can help with alignment, musicality, movement quality, control, and flexibility. Fitness sessions can help avoid injury during the season, and provide the base level of fitness needed to have a successful skating season. Knowledge is power! So while we can’t skate on the ice as much as we would like to, we can certainly use this time to develop in other areas, so that we can return to the sport better than we left it!" Lisa says.

Are online courses something OTM will maintain in the future?

"Since some synchro teams are formed now and now doing their own training “from home” 3-7 days a week, the current needs are different than they were 2 months ago. We will do our best to fill the next gap, whether that means another online camp, or something different. It is more important than ever, for us to have a flexible approach!"

Camp Leaders demonstrating Artistry Class with Paula Wagener, off-ice coach with Skyliners. (Credits: OTM - 2020)

Competitive sport teaches us resilience
Personally, are you worried about the coming synchro season?

"I think everyone is concerned to some degree. Uncertainty is uncomfortable, and we are surrounded by it these days. There are so many unknowns at this time, but if competitive sport teaches us one thing, it is resilience. Through the uncertainty, we have to control the controllable and take it one day at a time. Eventually, this will pass and the sport will return - we just don’t know when. I personally think that the teams who are able to stay motivated and use this time most effectively, will be the teams that we see making great strides when the sport returns."

"Covid-19 has changed a lot for me"

Much like the skaters and coaches, Lisa is currently finding ways to keep busy and stay productive. "Covid-19 has changed a lot for me, because of all of the cancelled camps and personal coaching contracts (which means way more time at home). I have more time to garden, explore outdoors, bake, and really take joy in the simple pleasures of life."

In closing, the OTM founder wants to challenge all of the skaters to wonder why they love synchro, what they want to accomplish in the sport and what they need to improve to get there. Lisa Carriere recommends using those lists to fuel the training.

"Good luck and keep healthy everyone!"