Hockey camps, statewide convention bring life to Miami campus as restrictions ease

This week will see nearly 700 boys from around Ohio staying and learning at Miami University's main Oxford campus as part of the annual Buckeye Boys State conference. Coronavirus last year shut down summer youth conferences at Miami. Pictured is Gov. Mike DeWine in 2019 as he speaks with teen delegates for the conference.  Contributed
This week will see nearly 700 boys from around Ohio staying and learning at Miami University's main Oxford campus as part of the annual Buckeye Boys State conference. Coronavirus last year shut down summer youth conferences at Miami. Pictured is Gov. Mike DeWine in 2019 as he speaks with teen delegates for the conference. Contributed

Credit: Photo by Scott Kissell

Credit: Photo by Scott Kissell

Buckeye Boys State, hockey program are back.

It’s one of the busier weeks this summer break at Miami University’s main Oxford campus as nearly 700 boys from all around Ohio will be studying American government this week at the school.

The annual Buckeye Boys State, which is sponsored by the Ohio American Legion, is one of the largest groups to use Miami’s campus each summer.

Starting Sunday and through the week, high school juniors from across the state will learn about city, county and state government through a “nonpartisan, objective educational approach,” said Miami officials.

Christie White, program coordinator for Buckeye Boys State, said they’re excited to be back after last year’s program was canceled due to the pandemic and no online option was deemed a feasible substitute.

“Being on campus is like a second home to us during the summer,” White said.

The coronavirus pandemic shut down summer activities for non-Miami students last year, but the campus, which expects about 5,000 youths to come and stay this summer, is again open for hosting groups though with lower numbers and safety modifications due to the virus, said school officials.

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Usually the boys camp numbers around 1,200 participants but this the conference was limited to 672 teens.

Miami’s nationally acclaimed hockey program also draws boys and girls during summer break.

Mike Norton, director of hockey at the Goggin Ice Center at Miami, said they have made significant modifications for their six planned hockey school sessions for male and female players ranging in age from 8 to 18. The first camp starts this week.

Each session will have a maximum 120 players, slightly modified from past years. Normally, they’d have 120 players in a residence hall. This summer, they’re spreading them across three residence halls, with 40 players in each.

They’ll open all the locker rooms in Goggin and limit the number of players, using 10 instead of the usual 20. And there will be plenty of disinfecting going on beyond what was done in the past, Norton said.

Last summer was the first time since the summer hockey school program started in 1977 that one wasn’t held, said Norton, who participated in his first summer hockey school in 1980 as a student-athlete at Miami.

“It feels good to be back at it,” he said.

It’s another strong indicator things are beginning to return to normal after the summer of 2020 when no in-person conferences or camps were held on campus, said Paula Green, Miami’s associate director for conferences.

“The summer will look different, with no face-to-face orientation sessions or alumni weekend, but many university departments and external clients have been working diligently to return to campus this summer,” said Green.