Between April 23 – May 7th, two-time Olympian and 2012 Silver Medalist Lauren Wilkinson was touring the Interior of BC to promote rowing through a series of school presentations and development camps. Hear straight from Lauren why this project was important to her.
I have spent the past two weeks travelling through the beautiful Interior of BC, visiting rowing clubs and speaking with middle school and high school-aged students about the value of participation in sport, especially rowing. Rowing in BC tends to have the highest visibility on the South Coast and Vancouver Island. Although BC’s Interior is rich with lovely (and very rowable!) lakes and boasts a tradition of club rowing dating over 100 years, youth rowing in the region is still in a growing phase. I have been rowing for nearly two decades, and the rowing community has had a significant influence on the direction my life has taken. Here was an opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ to the sport that has been so important to me!
With my boat strapped to my car and my oars riding shotgun, I was certainly an unusual sight to students as I rolled up to schools in Vernon, Kelowna, Nelson, and Lillooet. Each of these towns is home to a dynamic rowing club that is eager to grow their youth rowing program. Together with these clubs, I connected with schools to share part of my rowing story, highlight the incredible rowing community and its value as a support network, and to get students excited about trying rowing. I typically brought a few club ergs and my boat into the school for the students to see. There were lots of comments about how much fun erging was (!) and exclamations about how long and light a racing single is. The students then had a chance to attend ‘come and try’ events at their local clubs. I was struck by the community engagement and welcoming attitude of each of the clubs that I visited. Beyond meeting and speaking with some wonderful and rather enthusiastic students, a particular highlight for me was rowing at almost every club that I visited. I will definitely be back with my boat to the Interior of BC to enjoy over 4km of glass on Swan Lake in Vernon, the ancient water-side pictographs in Nelson, a row followed by wine in Kelowna, and the majestic, turquoise waters of Setton Lake in Lillooet!
In addition to Lauren’s tour, Rowing BC has been active in the Interior this Spring running an RCA Learn to Row Coach Workshop in Nelson, and a U19 Development Camp in Vernon. Over the Summer, two additional RCA Learn to Row Coach Workshops will be hosted in Vernon and Lillooet, and a Level 1 Umpire Clinic will take place in Vernon.
All rowing organizations in the Interior have been contacted by the Rowing BC Interior Development Taskforce so that new ideas and initiatives to support the needs of rowing in the Interior of BC can be created ensuring they specifically address the current situation of these rowing organizations.