Last July 24th I left the YES regional coaches training in Mystic, CT and pulled onto I-95 for the long drive to Bucksport, Maine.
Bucksport, Maine??? I had never heard of it, and had never been farther north than Boston, but my co-pilot Craig Fannan had just finished an amazing week of camp at Bucksport and was returning for an encore week of camp. And he was taking me with him.
As we drove through Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Craig told me about how welcoming and friendly the Bucksport host families were, and how everyone involved in the camp - from the campers to the volunteers to the camp co-ordinator - spent so much time and energy to make the YESCoaches feel appreciated. Craig told me about the family cookouts, lazy afternoons by the lake, and even a coaches versus campers game, which has become a Bucksport tradition.
The camp week that followed did not disappoint! The town of Bucksport is filled with some fantastic people and the second week had something amazing planned for us nearly every day, from lakeside cookouts to outdoor cinema viewings. By the end of the week I already had my mind on 2012 and I even enquired with YES as to what the Bucksport camp dates would be.
So a few weeks ago, while I was coaching in Chicago, I heard that the good people of Bucksport had requested my presence for this year's camp. I was over the moon to hear the news, but immediately thought that it would be too much of a logistical headache to move me over 1300 miles in just a few days' time just to coach a camp.
But Matt Brown and the staff at YES place a premium on the willingness to 'muck' as a team to do difficult things, and to serve their great partner clubs. So a plan was put in place to get me to Bucksport!
The trip started on the 23rd June at 6.30 a.m., with me hitting the road to catch a flight from Chicago O'Hare to Pittsburgh. From there I spent two hours in construction traffic just to make it to the YES fleet car. I then hit the road with low-handicap YESCoach Craig Wrigglesworth for the 9 hour drive across Pennsylvania into South East Connecticut.
I was cream-crackered headed into Day Two of my odyssey and the long drive up to Maine, but accompanied by the always-pleasant Stu Green, the trip was more bearable than the lack-lustre England's penalty defeat at the hands of a determined Italy team.
36 hours and 1300 miles after I left Fox River Grove, Illinois, I was finally back with the good people of Bucksport, Maine! It was great to be back and to see so many familiar faces on camp as well as those who give up their days to help out. The week of camp, like last year, was brilliant.
After camp concluded for the week, I spoke to my Mum and Dad back in the U.K. and told them about my exhausting weekend of travelling by plane and car to get to Bucksport. There only question was, "Well, was it worth it?".
After another brilliant week in beautiful Bucksport, Maine, I can confidently answer: YES!