After the boathouse tour, we take them out on one of the docks to the erg machines. The rowing simulators are mainly used for off water conditioning, but they also prove useful to teach the basic rowing stroke. We have a few club members that are certified erg instructors and they teach our guests how to erg.
After our guests get the basic rowing stroke down we send them off to the barge. The barge is like it sounds - a clunky, but very stable floating platform on which to further refine the rowing stroke. Like a rowing shell, the barge uses regular oars and has sliding seats. Every guest gets a chance to give it a try with club members demonstrating proper technique and offering advice and lots of encouragement. We used to send the barge out into the cove, but it took to long to get out and back. Now we keep it chained to the dock and it works just as well from a rower's perspective.
After the ergs and the barge, our guests are ready for the real thing - rowing in a real 8 man shell. We put four guests in the middle four seats with experienced rowers in the bow pair and stern pair. Yours truly was originally designated to give the boathouse tours, but got drafted into coxing. Here our first group of guest pushes away from the docks in preparation to heading out of the cove and onto the Occoquan. That's me in the very back of the shell. I'm a little big to be a coxswain and it's a tight fit for me.
Finally our guests get to show their stuff and row on the Occoquan. Most do surprisingly well for just getting a crash course on how to row. We like to think if we can get you into a shell, we've got you as a member. Rowing is just that good. Next up for us is our two week rowing camp dubbed "Raw Knucks".
All pictures are courtesy of Bob Rodriquez.