Young players battle for the puck during one of Chilliwack Minor Hockey’s Peewee Jamborees. This is the 55th year for the storied tournament

Young players battle for the puck during one of Chilliwack Minor Hockey’s Peewee Jamborees. This is the 55th year for the storied tournament

Peewee Jamboree a Kemp Christmas tradition

Chilliwack's Kemp clan has been involved with Chilliwack's Peewee Minor Hockey Jamboree for several decades.

Jennifer Kemp was 16 years old the first time she helped out at the Peewee Jamboree hockey tournament. A spectator up to then, her dad talked her into volunteering and plunked her in the time-keeper’s box.

From six in the morning to six at night, the teenager sat shivering in her little spot, running the clock whilst jotting down goals, assists and penalties.

Traumatic stuff, surely.

“I definitely messed it up, and my penmanship was pretty sloppy back then,” she laughed.

Jennifer made it through that first year, and inexplicably was back for the next. And the next. And the next.  This week, she’ll be back in ‘her office’ for a 14th year as Chilliwack’s flagship tournament celebrates its 55th year.

“These little kids are out there playing their hearts out, and in their eyes they’re going for the Stanley Cup,” Jennifer grins, when asked why she keeps coming back. “The stands are packed with parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. You see their faces when they look at the crowd, and when they score a goal, they have the biggest smiles on their face.”

There may be no family with deeper ties to the Jamboree than Jennifer’s Kemps.

Her grandpa did her job in the early 1970s, sometimes sliding over to keep order in the penalty box.

Her grandma served food at Evergreen Hall, dishing up three meals a day to anyone involved in the tourney — back in the days when the local army base supplied the chow and visiting teams slept in the Evergreen Hall gym.

Jennifer’s dad, Doug, got involved in the early to mid 1970s, first as a coach and later as an official.

He helped out with his little brother’s peewee B team, but his true calling was as a referee. Forty-three years ago, he put on the striped jersey, grabbed a whistle and skated onto the ice at the Chilliwack Coliseum.

He’s been around long enough now to be supervising a third generation of Jamboree players.

Doug’s son and Jennifer’s brother, Jason, played in the Jamboree in 1994 and 1995. In one of those years his team made it to the tournament final before falling in heartbreaking fashion to a team from Hope.

“I remember being really young and going to the arena to watch the games that my dad was reffing,” Jason said. “Then, having a chance to play in it a few years later was special.”

When he was finished playing, Jason followed in his father’s skate-steps, becoming a referee when he was 20 years old. He’s reffed the Jamboree many times since, and viewing it through adult eyes has made it no less special.

“What’s funny is that I’m a teacher, and a lot of the players have been my students,” he chuckled. “When I send them to the penalty box, I hear about it Monday. And now, I am find myself reffing alongside a lot of the kids I taught.”

Jason has a son now, two-year-old Tyler.

The kid’s expressed a love for hockey, and is on track to be the next Kemp to skate in the Boxing Week tourney.

Collectively, the Kemps have seen it all with the Peewee Jamboree.

“You used to have all the good teams from the Lower Mainland, the Burnaby and North Shore Winter Clubs and teams like that,” Doug said, fondly remembering the Peewee Jamboree’s heyday. “The tournament ran like clock-work, and for a small community, everyone got involved. It was a real close-knit kind of thing, and a big thing to be at the Peewee Jamboree.”

Gradually, that heyday fell away, replaced by a two-decade decline. But now, the Kemps believe they are witnessing the Jamboree’s resurgence.

Last year’s tournament had one of the biggest fields in recent memory, to the point where Doug had to come out of ‘retirement’ due to a referee shortage.

A small army of volunteers seems intent on restoring the Jamboree to its former glory.

“You have to take your hat off to the new committee who’ve gotten it back to this level,” Doug said. “There were over 100 games last year. When Jason played, they were lucky to have 50. They’ve gotten the Jamboree back to being something you want to see.”

Having it at this time of year has always made the tournament extra special.

The Kemps make a point of keeping their schedules clear, making the Jamboree a part of their holiday experience.

“All of the kids have their new sticks  that they just got for Christmas and they’re going to score 10 goals with those sticks,” Jennifer laughed. “The older kids are trying some of the moves they see on TV with the World Juniors. It’s just such a wonderful Christmas tradition.”

l This year’s tournament runs from Dec. 27 to 30, with 40 teams and 675 youths participating.

All four ice sheets at Twin Rinks and Prospera Centre will be used.

Teams are coming from the Lower Mainland, Interior, Vancouver Island and United States.

Tournament info can be found on Facebook.

Search Chilliwack Peewee Jamboree 2013 for tournament schedules and venues, parking locations, restaurants and accommodations, as well as information on other scheduled events.

During the Jamboree, the Facebook page will have game results, 50/50 draw updates and more.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Squires of The Wack Window Cleaning Company has created the #100housechallenge where he’ll be cleaning the exterior windows of 100 homes for free when an interior window cleaning service is purchased and a food item is donated to Wilma’s Transition Society. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack window cleaner ready to donate to Wilma’s through #100housechallenge campaign

Chris Squires enjoys providing service, wants to express it via donations, giving back to community

A cyclist was struck at the intersection of Prest and Bailey roads in Chilliwack on Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Cyclist struck by SUV in Chilliwack

Incident happened at Prest and Bailey roads around 2:45 p.m. Saturday

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired Mission teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Alan Sweet taught in school district for 10 years, investigators seeking further witnesses

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement between Fraser Valley FN communities, RCMP to expand Indigenous role in policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

Canadian Reformed Church in Chilliwack. (GoogleMaps)
OPINION: Churches that defy the law and public health orders are in the extreme minority

The nature of news coverage means that aberrations from the norm are what make the headlines

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read