New project hopes to secure future of caman making

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A new partnership aimed at securing the future production of camans has been welcomed by shinty clubs.

Currently made by a small number of independent carpenters, caman production has been identified as ‘a critically endangered craft’.

The Camanachd Association is to work with Inverness College UHI to address the issue, implementing modern business processes to develop a manufacturers’ co-operative. The five-month initiative has received funding from the Scottish Government’s innovation voucher scheme which encourages collaborations between organisations, businesses and academia.

Regional Development Officer Les Kinvig told The Oban Times: ‘I am delighted to see the project moving forward and we are all hopeful that this will lead to sustaining the craft of caman making for the benefit of everyone who plays shinty.

‘It is a craft that is mastered by a limited few and therefore vital that this knowledge is passed on while also exploring the opportunities to expand and enhance the art of caman making to wider shinty communities.

‘Thankfully, looking forward to season 2022, it seems there will be no shortage of camans due to the hard work of the current makers.

‘Unfortunately, in the current economic climate with the cost of materials, labour and shipping there may be a rise in prices but hopefully with this project and the collaborations taking place we will see the costs reducing and the art of caman making increasing.’

Leading the project at Inverness College UHI business and management lecturer David Jack explained: ‘As caman making is a critically endangered craft, the Camanachd Association is looking for innovative ways to make the manufacturing process more sustainable.

‘The two organisations will work together to explore opportunities around volunteering, work experience, education and training, coaching and community awareness.

‘Our main goal will be to support caman makers to work together so they can share expertise, ideas and realise the benefits of greater co-operation.’

Derek Keir, chief executive officer of the Camanachd Association, said: ‘This project is a fantastic example of our partnership plans with the University of the Highlands and Islands and highlights the benefits of partnership working to grow the support network for shinty and our respective communities.

‘We also hope to progress work to include further exchange of expertise as well as a greater connection to teacher training in the Highlands and Islands.’

Dr Iain Morrison, University of the Highlands and Islands’ Dean of Students, added:

‘The caman project is a great example of the synergies that exist in this new relationship.

‘We share similar geography, socio-cultural roots and a strong desire to support communities across the Highlands and Islands. Our partnership is inherent in the success of our communities and our communities are fundamental to our strategy and operation so we are proud to be working closely with Scotland’s most iconic team sport.’

Photograph in D photos (NO_T45_ShintySticks 02): Shinty stick reserves will run dry unless more caman makers are found. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,