Close your eyes for a minute and imagine the perfect guys-only vacation. One week to do whatever you want, to answer to nobody, and take part in activities that normal life typically preclude you from doing. Away from the cell phone towers, the computer monitors, the work cafeterias.
If you’re like most people, your vision included white sandy beaches, a beer, a bathing suit, and perhaps a set of golf clubs. But if you’re Shaun Finn, Brian Ceci, and their circle of friends, your vision was considerably colder. And considerably more awesome.
The trip began seven years ago. Finn, his brother Devon, and friends John and Steve took a week off and headed to a lakeside camp owned by Steve’s family. The goal was as simple as the boys were unprepared: show up, unpack, and play pond hockey all day, every day, for a week. The first year did not go so well.
“We were very unprepared for the first trip,” says Finn. “We had no lights and just some shovels. When we got there we dug out a rink that was maybe 20 feet by 15 and it took us most of the day. When we finally got down to the ice the surface was terrible. Unplayable, at least in skates. So we just shot the puck around and made up a few hockey-themed drinking games. It wasn’t what we were hoping for but it was still amazing. A group of great friends willing to do what it took to get out and play.”
What it took, the group realized, was more tools, more preparation, and more manpower. The group of four increased annually, as did the level of sophistication, the amount of prep work, and the scale of the finished product. Now seven years later, their “hockey week” is a thing to behold. Since Steve’s family owns the house, his father keeps track of the ice thickness in the early winter months, blocking off the rink area from snowmobilers and ice fishermen once its thick enough to walk on. Once the boys show up, the first day plays out like a Canadian Field of Dreams: up go the end boards, out roll the extension cords, on go the lights. Day one is more work than hockey, but it sets the stage for the remainder of the week.
What that week is, exactly, is known only to those fortunate to take part in “hockey week”. But it surely involves a ton of puck, a ton of food, even more beer, and enough laughs to sustain the group for the other 51 weeks. Finn elaborates: “There is a lot of drinking and screwing around. We play hockey for about 8 hours a day. Since we have the lights we can, and do, play well into the night. Due to how cold it gets you have roughly 5 minutes to finish your beer before it freezes.”
The group is 13 deep these days, eight in Steve’s family’s house and five next door. All of them are in their late 20’s. Devon works for Xerox. Steve works for a phone company. John is a carpenter. The rest are cabinet makers and salesmen and photographers and farmers. And lucky for us, Shaun Finn and Brian Ceci are filmmakers. What you’ll watch below is their incredibly well-made look at “hockey week” 2011. What started out as four buddies shuffling around on terrible ice has morphed into a mecca of open ice bliss, a seven-day retreat from the trappings of big city life. And one hell of a great use of vacation time.
So the next time you start planning a week away, put away the sunscreen and pitching wedge and look due north. Surely there’s a lake within driving distance that’s begging to host the sequel.
Thanks to Shaun Finn for sharing this amazing video. To see more of his work, check out Finnesse Media, the company he started with brother Devon. Their website is http://finnessemedia.com. You can also check out Brian Ceci’s work at his website, http://www.brianceci.com.