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How to Maximize Your Rowing Camp Experience

Making the excellent decision to attend a rowing camp is only the beginning. To get the most out of a rowing camp, you need to do more than just show up and let things happen. Below are some tips on maximizing your camp experience so you have an amazing time and get the most out of it.


Be in shape Regardless of the type of camp you're attending, show up in shape. For shorter camps, this will make it so you're not spending the bulk of camp just remembering how to use an oar instead of building upon what you already know. For longer camps, greater gains can be made if you are in (or near) top shape rather than using the camp to get in shape. At camps that revolve around preparing for racing, if you are not physically prepared when you arrive you are going to have a much harder time hitting your goal.

Take care of yourself Summer is fun. We want to go outside, be adventurous, and try new things. We also sometimes push ourselves too far and wind up sick or injured. While you cannot prevent everything, you should still make wise choices to ensure your safety. The consequences of being sick or injured before camp vary, but none of them are pleasant. If it is bad enough, you may have to cancel your attendance. Most camps have some form of refund policy (usually minus a deposit), but if it is too close to the start of camp, you may forfeit the entire amount.

Set Camp Goals What do you want to get out of camp? Why are you attending this camp? Write down your goals for camp about a week before leaving for camp. You don’t need to create an extensive list, but your list should include at least a couple items. These can range from make new friends to drop my 2k by X seconds (be realistic). While your goals for camp may change once you arrive, it is important to have an idea early because they will help guide you throughout the camp.

Gather necessary items It should go without saying, but make sure you have the appropriate clothing and materials for camp. Have enough kit to last more than one day. If you’re a coxswain and have a cox box, bring it, it’s always better to use your own equipment. A great resource is the packing list many camps will send you prior to departure. This is especially important if going to a camp in a cold or hot location or where inclement weather occurs. At every camp, even if it is not explicitly stated, make sure you have at least one water bottle, snacks, notebook, sunscreen etc.

Edit by Gary @FWD2row “Rowing several times a day over and extended time will take its toll, on your hands (even if you have those ever important pre-formed callouses) investing in some rowing gloves such as CrewStop or Rowtex can save a lot of pain or even save the whole trip if the blisters get too bad. Another often forgotten and overlooked essential is a good quality sports sunscreen, ideally one developed for water sports and won’t make your hands slippery and run into your eyes through sweat such as LifeJacket SP30 or SP50.”

Get excited Camps are fun. Camps are awesome. It's why we love them so much. As the start date approaches, get excited for what you'll be doing.

During Camp

Take notes This is important for all rowers, but crucial for coxswains. Rowers gain a lot being in the boat by going through the motions, building muscle memory, and getting a feel for the boat. Coxswains, who rely predominantly on mental abilities, lack this physical benefit. As such, coxswains must always (and we mean ALWAYS) have a notebook and pens (yes, plural) on hand to take notes; this includes practices on and off the water, meetings with coaches, and seminars.

Try new things/Ask questions/Be proactive/Talk to coaches Camps are all about new experiences. If you're doing a camp away from your home club, you're already taking a step in the right direction. Go even further and take advantage of every opportunity the camp offers. These range from social activities to signing up for meetings with coaches to creating your own opportunities to grow (within the confines of camp policies and safety, that is). While it's acceptable to come home from rowing camp saying “I rowed, rowed more, and learned about rowing”, it's better to come home saying “I rowed, I met these cool new people, I got great advice from Coach….”

Remember, it is up to you to make the most of every opportunity.

Pay attention You're at a rowing camp for a very specific reason: to learn more about rowing. No matter the length of camp or the particular goals, you are there to learn and improve. Listen to the advice the coaches give you and the others in your boat. If you're a rower, listen to what advice the coxswains receive and see if it applies to your coxswains back home. If you're a coxswain, listen to the way coaches describe different parts of the stroke to help you better understand what the rowers need to do. Coaches offer a lot of nuggets of wisdom, but you only get them if you are paying attention.

Work hard Few things worth doing are easy. If you want to improve it will take effort, time, and perseverance. You may not make leaps and bounds at a five day camp but focusing and dedicating yourself to each practice will ensure you are getting the most out of it. At longer camps, it is critical to work hard if you want to see results.


Implement what you learned There is no point in going to camp if you forget everything the moment you leave. Heed the advice coaches gave you (which you wrote in your notebook) and implement it into your rowing. Check in with your coach and ask about your progress. Talk with them about what you learned at camp and the best way to use it to improve your rowing. Every coach has a little bit different style, so keep an open mind if your coach gives advice contrary to what your camp coach said. Your coach at home is the one to follow because they are coaching the whole team in that style, and you following a different beat will only hinder you and the team.

Keep training, pushing, learning, and challenging yourself Rowing is a lifelong process. Camp has ended but the learning continues. Every day, on the water and on land, strive to gain something. On hard pieces push yourself to a new level. On technical workouts see how well you can focus and how much you can improve your form. Muscles and minds atrophy if not used. Keep using them and keep striving to be the best you can.

Dave Payne

edited by Gary Coxon

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