Image of full dragon boat with drummer and steersperson coming in close to shore.
Minnesota Dragon Boat Club, August 20, 2019 after a hard practice

Normally, as a Midwestern dragon boat club, April would be time to ramp up for the summer paddling season. We would be recruiting, planning for festivals, considering our summer travel options, reserving hotel rooms, shopping for new paddles and gear, and buying new team shirts to refresh last year’s models. We would be talking about summer outreach, plans for building a paradragons team and working toward a U24 team.

In April 2020, we are instead talking about being physically distant from our families, our workplaces, our teammates. Some of us are essential workers, feeling additional stress and risk to our already-intense jobs. Some of us work from home, experiencing our jobs in a very new way. Our households have a new reality, and we try to create some sort of routine that serves us. Some of us have been furloughed from our jobs, with the hope that we will be able to return to work. Some of us have been told there won’t be a return to our jobs, that our workplace is closing permanently, or there is just so much uncertainty that jobs are being eliminated. Some of us may be ill, or have friends or family that are, adding to our worries. Our new normal is still forming, and that is a challenge that we all meet each day. 

One thing we share is the experience of dragon boating as a great mental and physical stress reliever. The reality is that we will greatly miss our time on the water, and the uncertainty of WHEN is also hard to palate. 

As of this writing, the Minnesota Dragon Boat Club Board of Directors is planning for a summer out of the dragon boat. We are working as a club to figure out what that looks like. Some of the ideas folks have floated out include:

  • A private Facebook Group for club members to communicate with one another, share workouts, and generally encourage and support each other.
  • A weekly training focus designed to highlight some aspect of fitness aligned to dragon boat racing, so workouts now and through 2020 will lead to better performance when we can next be on the water. 
  • A weekly synchronous online check-in. 
  • A “Dragon Boating 101” series, providing an overview of the worldwide aspects of the sport with an eye toward competing in 2021 with the goal of earning a berth to the 2022 13th IDBF Club Crew World Championship in Sarasota Florida. 
  • A book and/or movie club highlighting those with connections to our sport, such as Boys in the Boat
  • One team event a month that combines various aspects of our club, fitness, social, outreach: Cardio and Cocktails, Dragon’s Lair (movie or hang time), etc

We are having a club meeting on April 30 to discuss these options and more. To our public, and those thinking about joining, we are building the boat as we paddle this year, so to speak, and believe that in the end we will be a stronger club. We hope you’ll come along with us!