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Kim Navarro reports from Champs Camp

Jam-packed weekend proved to be informative and fun

Keiffer Hubbell, Charlie White, John Baldwin, Kim Navarro, Stephen Carriere and Rachael Flatt were a team during the boat-building exercise.
Keiffer Hubbell, Charlie White, John Baldwin, Kim Navarro, Stephen Carriere and Rachael Flatt were a team during the boat-building exercise. (Alli Speroff)

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By Kimberly Navarro, special to icenetwork.com
(06/16/2008) - The second annual Champs Camp has been nothing less than -- well -- full, to be honest. It has been a couple days packed with information, presentations and activities. We were treated to insights from keynote speaker Paul Wylie, reminded of important nutritional guidelines by Dr. Dan Benardot, and told the importance of plentiful sleep by Charlene Boudreau (explained a lot of my behavior!) That is only to name about two percent of our daily schedules here.

I have been trying to figure out which part of the title "Champs Camp" I feel most connected to. The meetings and seminars definitely spoke to my inner "champ," and the communal bathroom definitely lends to my idea of "camp." I asked both Brent [Bommentre] and Jeremy [Abbott] if they felt more like a champion or a camper. Turns out Brent feels like a "camper," while Jeremy feels like a "champer."

I could tell you more about all the information we got here, but then I would have to kill you. Just kidding, of course, but still I won't recap everything and instead describe one personal highlight:

Saturday night concluded with a team-building game called "How many skaters does it take to build a raft out of cardboard and duct tape?" That was not the official name, but that is exactly what we did. We were divided into six teams and instructed to build a raft out of a pile of cardboard and several rolls of duct tape. Our flotation device would have to hold at least five of our teammates across the pool. We would be given points on performance, as well as both the technical and artistic aspects of our raft.

As my team hustled to duct tape as much cardboard as possible (Rachael Flatt had pointed out that duct tape is water resistant... smart girl!) I couldn't help but wonder if we were learning more than just team-building skills, like how to build our future homes. I have always had this sneaking suspicion that my first post-skating home will be made out of cardboard. I can safely say that if this turns out to be true, I will have a pretty sound cardboard and duct tape home. That is, only if I contract Rachael, Stephen Carriere, Keiffer Hubbell, Charlie White, and John Baldwin to build it, because -- not to toot our own cardboard horn -- but our team did have the best raft, and on top of that, the best performance. Stephen and I never ceased to wave and smile as our raft filled with water, and we slowly sank.

One thing I love about a large group of ice skaters is the inability to be anything other than a large group of ice skaters. The team-building game was no exception. We were in an environment exactly the opposite of a skating rink (swimming pool) and yet were all 100 percent skater. We all thought our rafts were the best (for various reasons: "Ours was the only one that floated!" "Ours was the most creative!" "Ours just was!"). No one slacked, even those who were initially skeptical. There was strategic planning. The competitive air was intense. Both Stephen and I had butterflies before our raft took to the water. Even in retrospect, Stephen said, "It was fun and intense." Then he added, "Kind of like my life." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Stephen is at "Champs Camp."

Speaking of Stephen, I cannot conclude without revisiting the "Stephen Carriere's show program music picks" topic. After discovering Stephen's secret talent of picking exhibition music for other skaters, I had promised to relay his selections. It has been awhile since we last talked about it, but here is a quick glimpse of what he remembered:

Jeremy: "Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai
Bebe Liang: "Please Don't Stop the Music" by Rihanna
Rena Inoue and John Baldwin: "At Last" by Etta James
Katrina Hacker: "Maneater" by Nelly Furtado
Ashley Wagner: "Give Me More" by Britney Spears
Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski: "She's a Maniac" by Hall & Oates

Thanks Stephen!