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Come Try Success at Christina Lake

British Columbia’s coast creates a plethora of opportunities to begin and grow rowing clubs. With its ocean, inlets, rivers, and channels, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island are host to many great waterways to foster rowing programs. However, it is not just the coast that boasts these waterways.

With funding from the viaSport BC Sport Participation Grant, Rowing BC’s Northern and Interior Expansion project began. Over three trips in June and July, Rowing BC staff hit the road to bring “Come Try” opportunities to communities that would be great locations for future rowing clubs and to check out the Interior’s current rowing clubs and associations.

With a van full of ergs and OarBoards, and occasionally a trailer in tow, Rowing BC staff made appearances in Prince George, Vernon, Penticton, Christina Lake, Nelson, Grand Forks, and 100 Mile House. These Come Try events brought in over 140 participants across the province, and for some of those participants, a passion was born.

An afternoon storm brewing over Christina Lake in Boundary Country threatened to halt the rowing come and try event organized for the community on June 27th. Rumbles of thunder echoed around the Provincial Park leaving staff with doubts of the event’s success. But the people of Christina Lake were not so easily discouraged. With all hands on deck, the staff and participants set up the event in record time as the skies cleared, and the first group of come-tryers took to the water. Across the next four hours, there was a steady flow of participants to the lake, each one getting a turn on the OarBoard, with coaching available from staff on the beach and on the water. Several current and experienced rowers, including a former Canadian National Team athlete, arrived to refresh their memory and get new tips. By the end of the event, Rowing BC Staff and the participants alike were shocked that Christina Lake did not already have an organized club.

Building a rowing club takes a village, a village which can often be difficult to find. In just four hours, the participants of Christina Lake banded together, determined to take advantage of the beautiful waterway, and get a club up and running. As the bulk of the participants walked back to their cars after a successful day on the water, they were already tossing around name ideas for their club. That afternoon, Christina Lake hosted the largest come and try turn out of all the Interior events, and with it came an equal amount of interest in future possibilities.

Two days later, Rowing BC staff hosted another event 20 minutes away in Grand Forks. Some of the participants showed up after seeing an ad online, but others were there after hearing all about the excitement 48 hours earlier at Christina Lake. After a quick row in Kettle River, the interest in a club at Christina Lake grew and grew, and as the van headed back to the Lower Mainland, one thing was clear: there is a future for rowing in this region of the province!

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