DAVE HAKSTOL still remembers going to hockey camp growing up. A small-town kid from western Canada, he was allowed by his parents to pick one camp to go to each summer.

Year after year, Hakstol attended the Clare Drake Hockey School at the University of Alberta.

Yesterday morning, many years later, school was back in session. And the teacher walked into Scanlon Ice Rink at the Scanlon Recreation Center in Kensington, ready to work with a group of local kids.

It wasn't quite "Dave Hakstol Hockey School," but the new Flyers head coach was the obvious attraction for the eighth- and ninth-graders of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.

Yesterday's camp was one of 23 offered free of charge by Snider Hockey. The foundation rebuilt the Scanlon Ice Rink in 2011. The project, which was funded through a state grant that the Flyers chairman matched and which also included assistance from the city, is one of many the foundation has initiated to help broaden the game of hockey in the city to individuals who might not be exposed to it otherwise.

"I think it's special," Hakstol said. "It's special for the game of hockey, and it's really important for any individual to have a chance to be part of a team, to have a chance to go out every day and learn something about the game, but, more importantly, probably learn something about yourself - feel that sense of accomplishment.

"And then you step off the ice and you're able to do the same thing here in the classroom. I think, probably, as a young person, a young kid, you walk away from here each and every day feeling like you've accomplished something. And I think that's something that really helps a young person grow and feel good about themselves."

Scanlon, which used to be partially outdoor, operates as the hub for Snider Hockey's After School Excellence Program from September to June. Many student-athletes come four or five days per week - or sometimes more - to get educational help, as well as to practice their hockey skills. It's all free, as long as students maintain a C average in the classroom and complete 15 hours of community service.

Hakstol started yesterday's session by meeting with a group of student athletes in Scanlon's classroom, talking to them about his new job, leadership and how academics can be used on and off the ice.

He then fielded questions from the group. Among the questions was how he's overcome challenges, such as the one he'll face when he starts his first season as an NHL head coach this fall.

"The most important thing I can do right now is what I do today," Hakstol told the kids, a statement that applies to much more than hockey. "I can worry about tomorrow and those challenges when I wake up tomorrow morning."

After the classroom, the camp shifted to the ice, where Hakstol helped teach and run drills.

He was asked afterward how the day compared with the camps he attended in Canada.

"It's a full day of camp," Hakstol said. "These guys are up, they're at it early in the morning, their days are full, they're on the ice, off the ice. I love the academic element that we have here within this camp. I think that's really important."

Hakstol is no stranger to working with members of the local community, coming from a hockey-crazed environment at the University of North Dakota.

"Our community there, much like here, gave us so much," Hakstol said. "Every chance we had, even in a busy year, we tried to do some little things where I guess it could be viewed as giving back a little. But, to be honest with you, just like on a day like today, there's more of a benefit for me than anybody. It's great to be here and to be part of it."

More ice on the way

Scott Tharp, president and CEO of Snider Hockey, said yesterday the organization plans to open four new rinks in the next five years, an aggressive plan that Tharp hopes begins with breaking ground by the end of this year on a new location in Germantown, adjacent to the Germantown Boys & Girls Club.