There are many reasons to attend a rowing camp, including the potential impact it has on your recruiting status. But like so many things, it comes down ultimately to the type of camp you choose to attend and what you put into it.
Instructional camps affiliated with colleges are common and typically less than a week. Living on campus and meeting the coaching staff is a little like taking the college for a test drive. Depending upon skill level and commitment, some can improve significantly during these camps. They’re also an opportunity to show coaches how you row and how coachable you are. These camps will not, however, help you train like student-athletes. No college-based summer camp for high school rowers comes remotely close to the demands of college rowing.
Significantly, unlike in many other sports, rowing coaches generally do not use their camp as a primary tool for evaluating prospects. The top programs’ camps rarely help a prospect get recruited unless she is an athlete from another sport and new to rowing. Instead, colleges mostly use their camps to supplement assistant coaches’ meager salaries.
Competitive racing camps offer increased opportunities and benefits. They are also longer, more demanding, and typically more expensive. College coaches frequently visit these camps scouting for talent. Performing well at club nationals or Canadian Henley increases a prospect’s college options. These camps also give prospects a better sense of the athletic demands of college rowing. They cannot replicate the challenge of balancing one’s studies with rowing, but they include two-a-day practices, something many college teams regularly do.
Other camps are designed for more than rowing. Rowing is a vehicle for international travel, personal growth, and/or long-term development. These camps can better prepare you for college rowing, but unless you improve on the erg during the camp it won’t substantially increase your recruitability.
USRowing camps receive a lot of attention in the recruiting process. Attending a weekend identification camp will not, in and of itself, help because the results are not shared with college coaches. Development camps are valuable but not necessarily a better option than staying home and racing with your local club. Junior national team selection camps are by invitation only and can help significantly. Nearly everyone who attends selection camp gets recruited by multiple colleges.
No matter where you go, however, behavior and attitude are all-important. Show college coaches that rowing is your passion and priority. Demonstrate a clear commitment to improve. Chip in, help out, and don’t play it too cool; humility along with ambition impresses coaches.