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Pebbles to Boulders: First Day of Curling

Over the years of operating the Little Rock section, my wife and I have learned a lot. Our experience comes from years of trial and error experiments. So that means we have been wrong on many occasions, but never fearful of trying new things. The first day of curling is the same. As your club’s Little Rock program experiences growth and decline, you will have to modify what you do on the first day. Here are some ideas that we have learned.

As mentioned in previous blogs, being organized is a big help. No matter what the size of your program, you cannot operate the whole program successfully on your own. There will be other Moms and Dads only too willing to help out, so give them a job. Also, being organized will help from you having to repeat instructions several times over the course of the session. Resign yourself to the fact that no matter how much prep you do, the first day of curling will look like organized confusion.

One big thing to remember…. Little Rock curling is FUN, FUN, FUN! Don’t ever get stressed out about Little Rock curling. It is a developmental program, showing the kids the basics of curling and if they do not do it properly, who cares? You’re only concern is, are the kids having fun. Development of their skills will be gradual, so do not push picture perfect skills… reinforce good efforts and having fun!

Have helpers for both on ice and off ice. For on ice, if you have a larger group you’ll need to split the group up with at least one instructor per group. The kids with experience will need less attention on the first days, as you will want to conduct reviews with them. The new curlers will require lots of attention, not only for instruction of what do with this weird game played on ice, but for safety too.

Off ice helpers on the first day can act as greeters, providing direction on where to go to get ready. Others can assist with collecting registration forms for you, while others can do equipment checks for clean rubber soled footwear, helmets and warm clothing. Everyone needs to be warm and welcoming to ensure that the new curlers and parents feel wanted and reinforce that this is a safe place.

Announcements and words of welcome are made so everyone can hear. I always found that clearing tables and chairs making space on the floor was best place for the kids. If your lounge floor is not carpeted, you might like to arrange something different, but with the kids on the floor, they are less apt to fidget. The parent’s can be quietly standing or sitting around the perimeter, listening to all the information too. Keep comments and instructions brief, no long speeches. The action is on the ice, not in the lounge. The ice surface is where the fun is. Make sure they know what is going to happen for the day and the next couple of weeks and expectations of them for attendance.

When want to purchase something new and you are not sure it is just what you want, you might ask about a trial offer. The same thing applies in curling. Make sure the parents of new curlers know their child can try curling for two or three weeks without obligation to join. After the trial period, the parents will know if the child likes curling or not. Then it is not unreasonable to have payments and forms completed.

Make sure you have plenty of copies of extra forms on hand. These are the registration forms with medical forms on the reverse side, extra schedules, extra cover letters and clothing information sheets. Any new people who have heard about the first day of curling will need this information for they have likely shown up having not received this info and certainly some of your veteran curlers will have forgotten forms at home.

After curling drinks are a big plus. If the bar is not open to serve pop, juice or hot chocolate, then I strongly suggest arrangements for this service be made, either by the bar staff or with volunteers. Refreshments after a busy day of curling, is a fine way to illustrate the enjoyment of curling and the importance of socializing. A good deal of the fun of curling does not take place on the ice, just like with adult curling.