Gaining Perspective at Power10 Camp

 

In 2018, Recovery on Water (ROW) introduced Power10 Camp, an annual summer retreat and rowing intensive that brings our mission to women from across the country while continuing to serve current members of the team.

Twice-daily rowing practices are supplemented with technical workshops, wellness presentations, and on-land mobility classes, making the four-day event an all-inclusive opportunity to explore health and fitness following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

This year, Power10 Camp hosted 56 women at Fountain Point Resort in Lake Leelanau, Michigan, and it was encored by the first ever “Peoria10” Camp, which was an abbreviated program hosted at ROW’s home-base boathouse for members of its Peoria affiliate team.

Reflecting back on both events, ROW programs manager Devlin Murdock discusses one of the arguably unexpected benefits that they offer:

Perspective.

A Microcosm of ROW Quality and Community

For current ROW members, the quality of camp programming is to be expected—they know the standards by which our organization operates and are well-acquainted with our performance expectations. But for women who arrive at camp from outside the team, even if they are experienced rowers, they are generally greeted by a program that delivers more than expected in terms of content and quality.

According to Devlin, “When new camp participants are given access to ROW coaches and programming, they express genuine and tangible joy and amazement at what they’re getting, and that buoyant sort of response really sets the groundwork for a positive experience.”

Building on that groundwork, Devlin takes advantage of camp’s captive audience to also deliver some potentially unexpected opportunities for enrichment.

“At camp we encounter a lot of people who may not proactively invest their time in enrichment activities related to mindfulness or certain aspects of a healthy lifestyle, but in this retreat setting they’re often more open-minded. So, if we put these programs in front of them, they’ll likely consider it,” he said.

More Than a Rowing Camp

Community is an important driver for ROW; introducing women to a network of peers who understand the challenges associated with breast cancer is a critical component of our programs’ success. This key pillar supports the greatest outcomes at camp, too, and it applies as much as to the teammates who routinely row together as it does to those who are joining our crew for the first time.

“With women from the ROW team, you’re talking about people who see each other usually once or twice a week, and spending a long weekend together presents a whole new opportunity for team bonding,” Devlin explained. “Some of them may be seeing each other in a social scene for the first time, and every meal is suddenly a chance to connect more deeply with someone you might not usually talk to.”

Of course, this is the broad appeal of ROW in general: The opportunity for women with a shared experience to surround themselves with and feel connected to people who have “been there” with breast cancer and who are proactive about not letting that overtake their life. Camp is a next-level opportunity to facilitate those connections and embrace that drive.

Devlin believes location has a lot to do with the bonding that happens.

“Power10 Camp is as much a retreat from daily life as it is a rowing camp,” he explains. “Whether you know someone here or not, it doesn’t really matter, because when you arrive everyone knows that they are going to spend the next four days together in a relatively intimate setting. That lets people put their guard down, and it gives them space to share their stories with a sense of security and comfort.”

A Compelling Experience for Coaches, Too

Just as camp is a reinvigorating retreat experience for athletes, it does a lot for participating coaches, too. Working with their crews to build on each practice, coaches become the standby recipients of considerable gratitude, and it makes camp an exciting time and place for them to be reignited by and for our mission.

“Athletes at Power10 Camp are so excited and happy to be there, and generally the outlet for that joy is the coaches, which is a super positive experience. I think that the coaches staying in the same location as the athletes and seeing them outside of practices and having meals with them is important. You learn things about your athletes that you may not have otherwise known, and it ends up being an opportunity to really understand the people that you’re coaching.

This is a unique team and a unique population to coach, and you can be amazed sometimes. So frequently you know people only from the perspective of how they perform in the boat and how you’ve interacted at practice; rarely do you have a chance to learn about them more as individuals. Camp is the opportunity to be surrounded by these people—you can meet on equal terms off the water and learn about each other, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Devlin goes on to explain that observing athlete progress is one of the intangible payoffs to any coaching position, and is grateful that ROW coaches can find that kind of reward at camp.

Creating an Experience That Lasts

Months of planning and coordination are required to make Power10 Camp possible, but the takeaways are invaluable for ROW athletes and coaches as well as the numerous women who get to experience our programs and community for the first time.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it, but the experience really depends on that effort. What we do on the administrative side facilitates the enjoyment had on the athlete’s side.”

But to this Devlin adds that the experience had is the one participants choose.

“People have to choose to be open minded and engaged at camp. All we can do is create the environment that allows for it. From what we’ve seen thus far, no one has failed to arrive with that mindset, and that’s exactly why everyone walks away with an uplifting and lasting experience.”

Registration for Power10 Camp 2020 will open in spring.

 
Jenn Gibbons