AHIHA Registration: Hockey Camp for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Players

This week is the last few days for registration for the 2021 AHIHA Deaf & Hard of Hearing Hockey Camp. This will be my son’s fourth year at this amazing camp that has helped him interact with so many kids & adults with hearing deficits that all share his love of hockey. Oh, did I mention the camp is FREE?

UPDATE: Read below for my summary and post from waaaaay back in 2019! We all had to sit out 2020 (you know, pandemic) so wanted to get the word out on our 2021 camp and didn’t have much more to talk about since we didn’t have a camp last summer!! Dead line is this week, but more important, you can support our camp by entering the ONLINE RAFFLE at any time up till camp! GREAT way to support hockey and the deaf/hard of hearing players!

AHIHA History

Since I couldn’t say it better myself (as I did when I first talked about AHIHA in 2018), here is a bit of the history…

AHIHA (American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association) was founded in 1973 by Stan Mikita of the Chicago Blackhawks – member of the NHL Hall of Fame.  Per the AHIHA website:

“Irv Tiahnybik had a dream for his son Lex, who is hard of hearing. He envisioned a hockey school where hard of hearing/deaf youngsters could learn about hockey without being hassled by hearing people who couldn’t deal with the needs of deaf and hard of hearing athletes.  So, in 1973, Irv, a Chicago businessman, went to his good friend, Stan Mikita. He asked Mikita, then playing for the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks, for help launching the school. The rest, as they say, is history.”

AHIHA website

Being that we are Chicagoland folks and big hockey supporters we were shocked that we had never heard of this before Owen’s hearing loss diagnosis.  Thankfully since 1973 the camp has continued and thrived, and is held each summer right here in the Chicagoland suburbs.

The camp itself is a week-long camp held each June for an entire week.  Their motto – Goals Beyond Hockey. This is more than just a camp for perfecting hockey skills. The most amazing part is that the camp is FREE for students.  This organization has run entirely on donations with no fees are assessed to participating hockey players for the summer camp.  While camp participants have to pay for accommodations, some meals, and transportation to and from the camp – the seven days of camp is free. The only thing that they ask is each attendee assist with selling three raffle tickets. (If you want to purchase one to help support our camp, check out this link on the Annual Raffle)

Who Can Attend?

Straight from the AHIHA website, these are the qualifications to attend the camp. Most importantly, the deadline to register for camp is APRIL 15th:

  1. Male or female hockey players with 40db or greater hearing loss.
  2. First time hockey school attendees are required to provide a current audiogram in support of their hearing loss.
  3. Age: youth beginner through college level athletes.
  4. Players under the age of 21 must be accompanied to the hockey school by a parent. In the event a parent cannot be present, additional documentation will be required before a player is approved to participate in the hockey school.
  5. Player must be a current member of USA Hockey.
  6. Player must be currently participating in an organized hockey program (with the exception of beginners).
  7. Returning Players – must be in good standing with AHIHA to attend hockey school.

What To Expect

This year, the camp starts on June 12th. The Saturday of camp players start to arrive from across the United States – Alaska, Massachutes, Minnesota, Arizona just to name a few! They will settle in at the hotel for this year, the Hyatt Place Chicago/Itasca. Having everyone at the same hotel allows for different activities during the week, as well as coordinated transportation to and from the rink each day. There is also new family meeting in the evening following by the large, general meeting and dinner to kick off the week.

Sunday morning starts the practices. Goalies are always the first on deck, usually starting around 8 am. Then the four other groups – Freshman, JV, Girls, and Varsity – have practices throughout the morning. Again this year, we are skating at The Edge Ice Rink in Bensenville. Later that evening there is a BBQ planned (either at the hotel or rink) and parent meeting (at least there was last year).

Monday – Friday is where the real hockey camp feel begins. Each morning is the same – goalie practice followed by the other four groups. While the bus brings players back and forth to the rink – the gear stays there. That’s right, the gear stays in one place all week (except on night, they do have us bring back to the hotel to air/dry out everything a bit more). The break down for the afternoon/evenings the rest of the week generally follow this formula:

  • Monday – Evening Games
  • Tuesday – Evening Games plus Family Skate Night
  • Wednesday – Blackhawks Game Truck in the afternoon followed by the AHIHA Banquet in the evening
  • Thursday – Afternoon children’s raffle, Evening sports raffle
  • Friday – Evening games plus Parent Party (theme TBD)

Saturday there are no practices, just the final set of games in the morning followed by the Awards/Closing Reception early afternoon.

AHIHA Community

This is really the heart of this organization, and probably why it has been so successful for 48 years (and counting!). This VIDEO released this summer really captures AHIHA in four minutes. If you have a bit more time, here is a 15 minutes recap of Summer 2018 Camp. For the 45th Anniversary year, we even had some news coverage on WGN. My little guy is the one waving to the camera as he sits on the ice. All of this highlights the friendships formed by both players and parents. We look forward to this group, this energy, each year.

We are already counting down (2 months!) until we begin our week meeting new parents and players and renewing long-distance friendships. Please – spread the word on AHIHA. If you know of anyone who has a hearing deficit and loves hockey, or more importantly thinks they cannot play hockey because of their hearing loss – tell them about AHIHA. The deadline for hockey camp registration is April 1st! Spread the word!

47 thoughts on “AHIHA Registration: Hockey Camp for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Players

  • April 11, 2019 at 11:49
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    What a truly wonderful camp!! I just love to see some of the special needs camps that are available today..Thank for sharing this!!

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    • March 29, 2021 at 10:33
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      This is so cool! I’m so glad you found this! Good job MOM! Those big smiles say it all.

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  • April 11, 2019 at 17:26
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    What a great organization! Though I don’t have anyone in my life now that would benefit from this program – sharing it with all my friends and family will help to get the word out there!

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  • April 11, 2019 at 21:41
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    What a great organization! Love this!

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    • April 11, 2019 at 22:27
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      Most haven’t heard! It is an amazing group! Spread the word!!!

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  • April 12, 2019 at 08:40
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    Finding activities our kids will enjoy is such an important part of their growing up. Thanks for sharing!

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    • March 29, 2021 at 19:20
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      This is great! I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this!!

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  • April 12, 2019 at 23:11
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    This sounds like an amazing organization. I love the opportunity it provides for the hearing impaired and allows these young kids to experience something great in their lives. What a confidence builder!

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  • April 13, 2019 at 09:18
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    This is such an amazing camp! I know the kids will love it!

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  • April 13, 2019 at 09:23
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    What an amazing camp! I love this so much! Not many people realize how many great things hockey brings to their communities!

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  • April 13, 2019 at 10:16
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    Well that’s nifty. When I was in college I worked at a camp that invited specialty campers to certain weeks and it was always a delight. I always thought it would be more work…and it was… but they were so grateful for the ‘normal’ experiences it made us want to do even more. Love.

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  • April 13, 2019 at 10:41
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    What a great camp! I didn’t realize these types of camps existed, but I’m glad to see that it does!

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  • April 14, 2019 at 11:35
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    What a great organization! I love their heart for kids.

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  • April 14, 2019 at 17:54
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    This is SO AWESOME! Every kid deserves a place to play!

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  • April 14, 2019 at 17:57
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    What a wonderful concept! I love that this camp supports instead of excludes. I hope that more communities start this type of league.

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  • April 14, 2019 at 22:27
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    This is awesome. I know it’s really hard for people with disabilities to get into sports.

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  • April 15, 2019 at 06:36
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    What a wonderful opportunity for these kids. Thank you for sharing information on this organization!

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  • April 15, 2019 at 09:34
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    Oh, what an amazing organization. I love hearing about organizations like this – it really opens my eyes to what kids need!

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  • April 15, 2019 at 13:07
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    This camp seems great! And how nice that it is free. I worked at a summer camp for children with different disabilities and illnesses and one week was for hard of hearing kids and adults. It was definitely a unique experience! Especially because I didn’t know anything about that community before.

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  • April 15, 2019 at 17:25
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    Wow, I have never heard of this! This is so wonderful, such a great organization.

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  • April 16, 2019 at 05:23
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    Such a wonderful camp for kids to enjoy, I’m sure they can hardly contain their excitement! I think it’s so great that there are options for everyone and this looks amazing, thank you so much for sharing! 🤗

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  • April 17, 2019 at 20:35
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    What a great opportunity for those with hearing difficulties!!!! I love hearing about camps that are designed to provide those with special needs the chance to experience something they thought was impossible.

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  • April 18, 2019 at 09:00
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    This is awesome! I love reading about how people are being included.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  • April 20, 2019 at 19:01
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    Truly an amazing experience !! It’s exciting to see all kids have the opportunity to experience sports regardless of challenges. Our world has come a long way, yet still more room to grow. ❤️

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  • March 29, 2021 at 09:10
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    What a cool thing to do! I love that there is a program/group for hard of hearing/deaf. I bet that is such a great, strong way to build community

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  • March 29, 2021 at 11:25
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    Wow, this is so amazing for these kiddos!

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  • March 29, 2021 at 12:39
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    This is so amazing! I had no idea this organization existed. Thanks for sharing!

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  • March 29, 2021 at 15:35
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    Hey, sorry to hear your son has some hearing problems and it’s so beautiful to see that the society is standing for him and provides love and care and he is able to play hockey no matter what.
    Absolutely beautiful! Makes me cry 😢

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  • March 29, 2021 at 17:50
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    Wow this is truly awesome. And the kids look like they’re having so much fun!

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  • March 29, 2021 at 19:30
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    This is so great. It’s so important to build strong communities like these that support each other’s special needs. And what a fun activity for them all to participate in.

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    • April 3, 2021 at 08:50
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      Yep! We raise funds by the raffle each year! Such a great program!

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  • March 30, 2021 at 10:41
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    I’m surprised I haven’t heard of this camp. I don’t have kids who are deaf or hard of hearing, but I do live in the Chicagoland area. I hope it is promoted by schools that have programs for these students, as it could be so beneficial.

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    • April 3, 2021 at 08:50
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      Agreed! Spread the word!

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  • March 30, 2021 at 11:57
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    AHIHA sounds like such an amazing camp! It is such a blessing to find something that is healthy and helpful that kids enjoy.

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  • March 30, 2021 at 12:32
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    This is so awesome that the camp is opening again this year!

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  • March 31, 2021 at 08:46
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    What an amazing opportunity for these kids! Such a wonderful way to build community and lifelong friendships.

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  • April 1, 2021 at 01:02
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    What a beautiful program! I’m so happy your son has found such a supportive community in a sport he loves!

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  • April 1, 2021 at 09:55
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    This is incredible! There are so many people in this world who could benefit from more things like this, not just for hockey, but I am so glad you have been able to find a place that does

    Reply

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