#Curling with Kids...At The Mall?!

I hung out with a bunch of kids at the mall on Saturday. And we curled. In the mall. No kidding!!

About a month ago, one of my curling clubs (Sherwood Park Curling Club, the one where I'm on the board) sent out a message asking for volunteers to help with a curling promo at the local mall. Once it became clear I wasn't going to get to the Player Championship in Grande Prairie, I jumped at the opportunity.

The Northern Alberta Curling Association (NACA) has 3 "Kurling" sets. You know that Capital One Rocks and Rings commercial that always runs during the curling-on-tv events*? It's the same set. The NACA set came with two target/house mats** and 4 blue and 4 red "rocks" (made out of rubber with 3 ball bearings for sliding). Our curling club manager booked free time at the mall for two days, booked and picked up a kurling set from the NACA office (for free) and we were good to go.

The mall floor was tile, not conducive to rolling ball bearings on, but they gave us their stage in the food court which was perfect. It was the perfect width and height for little people to throw rocks on (I'd say the stage was 3 curling brooms wide and up to the middle of my thigh - I know because I have bruises there from leaning over against the edge to collect rocks for 4hrs). We duct taped down the houses on each end so they wouldn't fold up, and away we went.

It's a simple enough game with 4 rocks each so the kids got it right away. The rocks curl or roll straight, depends on how the kids threw them. Apparently the rocks curl in the opposite direction of how you curl the handle, but I never got around to testing that. One volunteer stood on either side to catch the rocks before they rolled off the stage. We used curling brooms to push and collect rocks from the middle of the stage after each "end". And we explained and encouraged and cheered.

All the kids sure had fun - and so did I! Some would only play once, others stuck around for 20 minutes, and we had a lot of kids come play, then go eat lunch, then come play again, then go shopping, and then come play again! It was fun for all ages, and we had a couple toddlers try it out, but I'd say most kids were elementary school age. They played against themselves or their siblings or friends or parents or random other kids hanging around. Some kids really got the game and used hit or draw strategy, and some just threw as hard as they could at whatever rock to make them go flying off the edge. It certainly was interesting to see the difference.

I was pleased that all the kids were all good sports and were willing to play with strangers. The food court was a great setting because there were always people around. That's not to say there weren't downtimes - apparently Friday was quiet (full of teenagers all day), but when I was there on Saturday it was mostly steady, with a few quiet periods thrown in. Once one kid started played other kids in the food court would come over and join in. We also had a real curling rock (an old vintage one) on the stage, and the older kids and parents had a good time trying to lift it. Fun times all round!

Actually, it made me a) sad that I quit being an elementary school teacher and b) thankful that I quit being an elementary school teacher - at the same exact time. I think maybe only ex-teachers or people who know me well would understand that sentiment.

On top of the fun bit, we also had a big banner advertising the club, and a bunch of brochures. People did take them, and a couple parents/kids were quite excited to sign up for our novice program. I think a few parents walked away considering joining one of our adult leagues too. Ultimately the timing was a bit off. I guess the curling club manager thought we'd try it out, and now that we know what it involves I'm pretty sure we'll get the kurling set back for early September to try to promote the club (and our late September Open House) more. Makes sense.

All said and done it was a super fun day. Later that evening I received a random twitter message: "my 2 yr old enjoyed the curling at the mall. thank you." - how lovely! That made me smile all weekend long! You're very welcome!

I'd encourage other clubs to consider holding an event like this in a public place - not only to promote curling club registration, but also to introduce children to the sport we love. And we all know children are our future. From what I saw last weekend, the future looks pretty fun!

* Why do they run curling commercials during curling events - that's like preaching to the converted. They really need to get those commercials on during mainstream programming to reach those who don't watch curling or even know what it is to begin with! Mostly they are brilliant commercials (kudos to the CCA, their promos have been awesome the past couple years!) but sometimes I think the effect is lost on those who already love the sport.

** You can buy the sets at kurling.ca, but be warned, they're pretty pricy (I think they're made in the UK). And the set only comes with one house mat, so you might need to buy another one. Weird. It certainly is not affordable for the average family - but still cheaper than buying a cool curling table. It's a super fun thing for schools to possibly purchase though.


  1. We really appreciated having you at Sherwood Park Mall and I'm excited to host you again, whenever would work best for you!
    Thanks again for your time at the mall,
    Marketing Director, Sherwood Park Mall


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