Top Ten Reasons to Attend a Rowing Camp (Outside of Your Home Club)
One of the major themes of this blog, beyond simply rowing camps, is the importance of attending a camp outside of your normal club or program. Below are 10 reasons to not only attend a rowing camp, but to attend one in a new location. (There are more than just 10 reasons, and if you can think of one not on this list, let us know!)
1. Learn More About Rowing
Learning the basics of rowing only takes a few days, but perfecting the stroke takes years upon years. Going to camp will help you learn more about the sport outside of your normal season and enhance your skills. Summer rowing camps let you focus (almost) solely on rowing, without major distractions like homework and exams. They are also great for coaches because they can work with athletes without the pressure of preparing for an upcoming regatta (unless the camp is designed to prepare for a race). Moreover, the camp will have different rowers than the coach is used to working with so the coaches have the opportunity to start fresh with a new batch of athletes
2. Meet New People who Also Love Rowing
Generally the attendees of rowing camps are there because they at least like rowing, if not absolutely love it. Being surrounded by like-minded campers will encourage you to learn more about the sport, develop a deeper passion for it, push yourself more, and enjoy being there. Talking to athletes from other programs will give you further insight into the rowing world. You will learn how other programs are run, how other coaches handle their squad, and can swap battle stories from regattas, crazy work-outs, etc.
3. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Camps are all about new experiences. The best way to enhance your camp experience is by stepping outside your comfort zone. For some, this is simply going to an overnight camp in a new city. For others it is trying to row on the other side, learning to scull, or rowing a single instead of an eight. It could be talking more to your coach than you normally do or being more proactive when making new friends. Whatever it is, find a way to challenge yourself while away at camp.
4. Try Out a New Body of Water
Salt water. Fresh water. River. Lake. Bay. Canal. Channel. Harbor. Tide. Current. Still. Dock launch. Beach launch. Sand bar. Buoys. Debris. There are a lot of different bodies of water we row on and each has pros and cons to it. Going away to camp lets you experience a new waterway with its own personality. You may get to learn to wet launch or find out how nice it is to row on fresh water instead of salt. For rowers you get a nice change of scenery. For coxswains you will be challenged with different landmarks and hazards.
5. Try New Equipment
We are used to the equipment our program has. We understand the quirks of the cox boxes, the feel of the foot stretchers, the familiar creak of five seat’s oarlock. When you go away to camp you will experience different equipment. You will have to get used to new boats and oars with their own idiosyncrasies. While all brands of equipment achieve the same fundamental goals, they are different enough that people will swear by one brand and against another. Using new equipment will force you to think more about the stroke rather than settling into what you’re used to. Plus, it’s fun to try out different boats and oars and see if they develop into new favorites.
6. Experience New Coaching Styles
Every coach has a different style. This includes the way they approach the stroke and how they explain it. Some coaches are loud, others are quiet; some will focus more on body mechanics while others are more concerned with boat feel. Depending on the coaches, it can be a breath of fresh air to hear something different. To clarify, you should not completely change your rowing style away from what your home coach teaches. There are fundamentals the new coaches will teach you, or work with you on, that will enhance your skills without majorly changing your style.
7. Hear a New Voice
We have all experienced this, whether in rowing or another part of life: You have been told the same thing time and again by the same person and it does not stick. You don’t understand what they mean and have tuned it out. But the first time someone new says the exact same thing you have a glorious revelation and it all makes sense. Hearing a new voice can be the trick that fixes something you’ve been working on for months.Moreover, it’s always interesting to hear what someone else thinks of your rowing.
8. Different Opportunities
Most camps offer something in addition to rowing and coxing training. It may be seminars on nutrition and weight training, college visits, or fun opportunities that have nothing to do with rowing. At large competitive camps you may get the chance to go from being a big fish in a small pond to rowing with people significantly faster than you. At camps Sparks runs, we have time each day for rowers and coxswains to meet one on one with the coaches. This allows campers to ask questions about fundamentals of the rowing stroke, to expand upon a tip they said at practice, learn what the coach's program is like, hear their own journey through the sport, and a plethora of other topics. These bonus experiences vary per camp, but almost all camps have them (and if you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to ask.
9. You Get to Row
There are a lot of different types of summer camps, ranging from sports to academic to wilderness adventuring. Why should you attend a rowing camp? Because you love to row and/or cox. At rowing camp you get to train multiple times a day, usually on the water. At sleep away camps you get to relax between camps and socialize with your new friends, who are also rowers and coxswains, and talk about rowing. It’s an escape from your parents and the normalcy of summer life. It’s freedom from people who don’t understand how important and necessary rowing is to life. Attending camp is a chance to forget the rest of the world and pretend that rowing, and hanging out with other rowers and coxswains, is all there is in life.
10. Camps are Fun
Fundamentally, we go to camps because they're fun. Yes, we get to learn more, try new things, and make friends, but at the end of the day, the most important reasons to go to camp is because it's an enjoyable experience. If you can manage it, we cannot recommend highly enough that you branch out and attend a rowing camp outside of your home club. Whether you are prepared to fly around the world or drive a bit further down the street, explore what the rowing community has to offer.