The Cree Nation of Mistissin held their first-ever summer football camp from August 10-12 with incredible success. Approximately 150 children between the ages of 3 and 18 were involved throughout the three-day camp held both outdoors in the fields behind the Mistissini radio station and inside the arena.

The weather made for good, clean and wet fun. And just when the sweat and dirt began to show on everyone’s faces, the sky would send a blast of summer showers to cool and clean them down.

The “camp councillors” consisted of an all-star crew of professional athletes: Ottawa Renegades head coach Jo Paopao, assistant coach Kani Kauahi, quarterback Tyler Paopao and defensive back Michael Gholar. The 15-man coaching squad jumped at the chance to be involved, many used their vacation time for the trip, and participated out of the goodness of their hearts.

Wemindji’s own Trevor Monaghan was also on hand, taking time off from coaching the midget football team, the Ottawa Dukes. “I wouldn’t miss an opportunity like this to give back to the community,” Trevor said. “There’s nothing more rewarding then being up North hanging out with the youth.”

Each day started out with drills and warm-up sessions, followed by activities which combined both game instruction and play technique. It was hard to distinguish who was having more fun out there, the kids or the coaches! Long days of football activities usually went on to include a Mistissini lake dock party, where coaches and players swam together until dinner, and basketball or baseball games that lasted well into dusk.

By day three the kids were passing and receiving like pros, and the Mistissini football field witnessed a record amount of touchdowns and interceptions. One may have to question the origin of the game, because the Crees are naturals.

Thanks to the organizational skills of Gord Hudson, The Cree Health Board’s newest Human Resource officer, for rallying his old football buddies up north for a week of fun, football and friends. Thanks also to Ashley Iserhoff, director of Community development, for coordinating the event. And a big meegwetch should also go out to the Band Council for making the camp a reality.

Another football adventure is currently in the works. The Ottawa Renegades, the Ottawa Police Association and the Mistissini Band Council are planning a field trip. This trip will be for the children involved in the football camp to travel to Ottawa, where they will have the opportunity to catch the Renegades in action.

So next time you see Gord around town, toss him a perfect spiral. The thanks will be evident.