Tips For Running The Program

* Inevitably, there will be weeks where some family members or some families will not be able to make it. To prevent last minute disorganization and starting late, we like to send an email out to the families either the night before or that morning asking if anyone will be missing. We also ask families to arrive at least 10 minutes early, so that we have a few minutes to rearrange the team lineups. We also give them a cell number they can text if they will be there, but after the 10 minute early arrival time. This has helped us a lot.

* Although we have not figured this out ourselves, we encourage you to find a way for families to socialize off the ice. On one occasion we curled for an hour, then visited while having popcorn and hot chocolate for 45 min, and then curled for another hour. This was enjoyed by most everyone. The youth sat at one row of tables while parents sat at another, and some real socializing occurred. (Note, popcorn wasn’t good since some ended up on the floor, which ended up on the ice). During regular sessions, we have heard from some families that they are too busy to stay after and from other families that they wish families would stay and socialize. It would be great to find a compelling reason to extend the experience off ice. Be it milkshakes or a group activity of some sort.

* There are two reasons to give families off ice experience:
1) It can add to the fun of the experience and help them feel that they are a part of the curing community.
2) For financial reasons, many clubs will give popular ice times to adult leagues before they will give ice to youth programs. Simply put, adults buy alcohol afterwards, which provides much needed revenue for the club. Youth programs in turn need to find a formula where youth and families want to stay and spend more money, and feel they are getting good value for the extra cost. I.e. in a quality bowl of French fries the kids like and fun socialization.

Success Factors

If you will measure success on whether or not players had fun, then encourage on ice volunteers to celebrate shots with youth. Youth won’t really understand what a good shot is during their first few games. They won’t realize that their draw that came up short and guarded their rock is a great shot. Tell them!! high five them! Clap and draw attention to great shots! Make them feel special and successful! – this will greatly increase how much fun they have and increase their interest in the sport.

With 2/3rd stick delivery games, it is my personal belief that given the choice between a volunteer who is a high level certified coach and someone with curling experience who loves to have fun with the youth, chose the fun volunteer every time (of course a fun coach is great too!). I recognize that highly trained coaches are great for competitive youth curling and for learning to slide. However, family curling uses very little of what a coach is trained to do, since slide delivery skills are not used and strategy is very basic in these games. In fact, volunteers need to be careful not to over teach since the families are primarily there to have fun rather than to build extensive curling skills. – at least to start. (This is only my opinion and everyone is welcome to form their own)