SBTC First Impressions

Hi, we’re the Small Boat Training Center! We’re college-age rowers training here at Craftsbury for the summer. Here are some of our first impressions of life at the Center!

Maddie Lips:
It’s my second summer training at Craftsbury with the Small Boat Training Center, and in some ways, it feels like coming home to what I knew and loved last year. When I first arrived, the night sky was particularly clear and I looked up to a display of stars
unlike anything ever witnessed in New Haven where I go to school. I feel like every breath I take cleans out the city air from my lungs, bringing me back to a better, purer version of myself. Adjusting back to the Craftsbury lifestyle is easy—the food is just as incredible, the water just as flat and beautiful, and though the roster has changed, everyone is as fun and friendly as ever. But in many ways, the center has changed dramatically in just one year.

The Green Racing Project rowing team has grown from the three or four pioneer members of last summer to a complete team of 14 athletes. The GRP rowers have moved from sharing temporary rooms in Cedar Lodge to living in two farmhouses near the Center. They have fully made the transition from just training here to calling Craftsbury their home. It’s amazing to see how effective the GRP training program is—some of these athletes were learning to scull last summer, and are now competing at the highest level. All clearly love the sport, and love their lives up here.

For me personally, coming up here for a second summer means building on what I learned about moving a boat last year. The amount I learned training here last year was invaluable, and the fun I had in the process made me dream about coming back here all year! I’m always surprised at how full the days are up here, and how much energy everyone seems to have, running from practice to working in the gardens all day, practicing again, then working in an extra lift or bike workout. I fall asleep before ten every night, exhausted but full of experiences from the day. A Craftsbury summer is the best kind of summer—busy from morning until night doing what I love with the greatest people! I couldn’t ask for more.

Maddie checking out the dock!

Maggie Fellows:
Craftsbury is like home for me. Most people think it is strange to be in a place with no cell phone service, a place that is all woods. For me this is just like where I grew up in rural Massachusetts. It takes a while to get anywhere, but that is okay because the Outdoor Center has so much to offer! The group of other serious athletes, the beautiful Hosmer rowing conditions, the wildlife, and the delicious meals are amazing. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to row in such an ideal location. I was surprised when I first arrived at how close the boathouse is to Cedar Lodge where the SBTC group is living, a three minute walk down the hill with food on the way. I hadn’t sculled much at all before I got here at the end of May, so it has been a steep learning curve these past few weeks. I also wasn’t expecting to make a complete loop of the lake in a single with hardly any instruction on my first evening here! However, it appears that the best way to learn is by doing, so usually the most important thing is to have courage and plunge right in, literally or figuratively!

Besides the plethora of rowing opportunities, one aspect of the SBTC program is doing 14 hours of work per week for the Outdoor Center in order to give back to the community. The majority of work hours I have been putting in so far have been with the Farm to Table project at Craftsbury that grows some of the food for the dining hall. This also reminds me of home – I grew up on a farm, although granted my parent’s farm has a lot more animals and the main business is cheese production. I have definitely spent many summers working on other farms that mainly produce vegetables, so working with Pam and Amy, the two main gardeners, feels just like summers during my younger years. Working at Craftsbury, however, is a much better deal.

Kate Miller:
Hi! My name is Kate Miller and I’m a California girl born and raised. I started rowing my senior year of high school with Oakland Strokes and I just finished my sophomore year at UCLA. Like my teammates, I come to Craftsbury with a passion for rowing and a desire to work hard, improve, and compete while my college team isn’t practicing.  I was so excited to come to Craftsbury and be around people who share my passion for rowing, but I was also a little apprehensive to leave home for a whole summer (especially when I heard that the center doesn’t get cell service!).

As I made my trek from Burlington airport, traveling farther and farther on dirt roads into what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, I started thinking, “What did I get myself into?!” I arrived at Craftsbury not knowing anyone, and not really knowing what to do, I asked a week camper who eats at a different time than all my teammates what time dinner was…whoops.  Luckily, one of the GRP rowers was helping out with the camp that week so she was eating dinner with the campers.  She spotted my wide-eyed, scared expression, introduced herself, and explained a lot of things I was confused about.  After that things started to go a lot smoother.  I met the other SBTC girls and they showed me the ropes. It’s easy to become fast friends with people when you’re training, working, eating – basically spending your whole life with them.  My first day was a little bit of a shock to the system.  I was jet lagged, missing school and my teammates, and just pretty unsure of what to expect. After practice and lunch a bunch of us gardened for three hours. Usually I’m not exactly the gardening type, so it was quite an experience.  A snake crawled over one of the guy’s feet and I screamed probably louder than was necessary.  Before our second practice I took a two hour nap that felt like an eternity.

After the first day I kind of knew what to expect and the days started to go by quicker.  I still don’t know if I love gardening, but Pam and Amy whom we garden with are some of the sweetest women and they’re so passionate about what they do, so I love learning from them. Three days after I got here the final SBTC member arrived, and with him arrived the possibility of escape: a car.  Friday a few of us decided on the spur of the moment to go to go to a farmer’s market in between practices.  We were excited to break out of our Craftsbury bubble and go exploring, but the “civilization” we found was certainly different than the city life that I’m used to.

Overall, my first impression of Craftsbury is very different from home.  However, it is one of the most beautiful places I could ever ask to row, everyone here is SO nice, the food is amazing, and I am so excited to see what the rest of this summer holds.  Stay tuned to hear about all our adventures!

Lawrence Lopez:
I arrived on a cloudy and rainy evening, but was reassured that the weather was not normally that bad. For my first row on the Hosmer the following morning, I was met with 15+mph winds. Again I was reassured that this was uncommon but I had my fair share of doubts. However, after the rocky start, things have taken a turn for the

With very little rainfall throughout the remainder of the week and arguably the flattest water I’ve rowed on for some time, I can already tell that I am going to thoroughly enjoy my time in Vermont this summer.

The atmosphere here is very much centered around the athlete’s well-being. With coaches that push individuals to reach their full potential, a dining hall staff that prepares a variety of delicious food options, and top of the line workout and housing facilities,
Craftsbury Outdoor Center proves to be an ideal destination for rowers looking for an exceptional training location. Amongst the athletes themselves there is also a tendency to push one another to become better. Simply placing yourself in an environment with such high caliber athletes forces you to strive for excellence.

Though I originally expected to have large pockets of time throughout the day where I would be searching for something to do, the numerous ongoing sustainability projects help keep us busy in our efforts to do our part to give back to the program. With projects such as gardening, woodchopping, caring for farm animals, and collecting milfoil, there is always some way and somewhere for us to help out.

Lawrence eating maple ice cream in Hardwick–civilization!!

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