An Exciting New Partnership!

The Lloyd Center for the Environment is excited about a newly formed partnership with Dharma Voyage, a non-profit rowing organization located in Westport, MA.

Dharma Voyage offers education programs to increase physical health and skills, stimulate the mind, and connect to nature. Their focus is on presenting programs that give their participants lifelong practices that offer increasing rewards as skills develop. On land, Dharma Voyage offers youth boat-building and adult Tai Chi. On the water, they have adult community rowing and racing, and youth coastal rowing.

Dharma’s education programs and connection to nature mesh well with the Lloyd Center’s mission, making a partnership between the Lloyd Center and Dharma Rowing a great fit.

In speaking with Lloyd Center Education & Outreach Director Liz Moniz, and Dharma Rowing Executive Director and Head Instructor Ben Booth, it was clear that they were both very excited and enthusiastic about the newly-formed partnership.

“The Lloyd Center is thrilled to have formed a partnership with Dharma Voyage over the summer. The Center was able to provide waterfront access to Dharma Voyage instructors for their classes.” Liz Moniz commented on the success of the new partnership. “Earlier in the spring, volunteers helped to rebuild the Lloyd Center’s failing canoe rack storage and construct new platforms for Dharma. By hosting the storage of their singles and coastal quad vessels, we hope to bring more people, both students and rowing enthusiasts, to our coastline to experience the beauty of the Slocum River. Investment and time spent in this scenic, yet fragile, ecosystem will help the Lloyd Center to educate the public about the river and protect this very special place. I am also very excited that Dharma Voyage was able to repurpose a floating dock that we no longer had a need for. It is a win-win for both organizations.”

Ben Booth, Dharma Rowing Executive Director and Head Instructor, talks of Dharma Voyage’s experience with the Lloyd Center over the summer months: “Dharma Voyage is deeply thankful for having had the opportunity to run our Youth Coastal Rowing program at the Lloyd Center this year.

To setup for the program, we rebuilt the existing canoe rack, along with adding a small additional rack for our two rowing singles. We also undertook a creative project in getting our coastal quad stored accessible to, but out of the water. To that end, we resurrected the floating dock from the Lloyd Center storage barn and built a rack with rollers on it, upon which we could hand launch and retrieve the coastal quad (at 35 feet long, this was no small undertaking!).

As all this was new this year, we ran a small trial youth program to test the systems and get to know the location. This program ran twice a week through July and August with a crew of four young participants (ages 13-17). From their introductory days in the calm waters of the river, the crew progressed quickly to venturing out into the sea beyond. As their confidence grew, we explored some larger waves to get a real sense of the thrill of coastal rowing. Everyone is excited to return next summer to discover more of their potential.

In previous programs, Dharma Voyage youth crews have rowed out to Penikese and Cuttyhunk Islands, and even all the way to Cape Cod. Multi-year retention of participants has always been a major goal of our rowing program, and it is that long-term learning journey that allows our young crews to undertake such great challenges. We were incredibly inspired by this first program at the Lloyd Center, and hope to continue and strengthen this relationship over the years to come. The Lloyd Center’s remarkable location and organization is the perfect place from which young people can discover the water, take their first rowing strokes, and launch grand adventures.

Many thanks to Liz Moniz and Rachel Stronach for their help, logistic support, encouragement, and for folding us into the Lloyd Center circle. Thanks to the Lloyd Center Board of Directors for their ready support of this program and partnership. From Dharma Voyage, a big thanks is due to David Wilkins, Tucker Hood, Katie White, and Lu Yoder, for above and beyond work in building docks, racks, boat covers, etc. And thank you to Lani Peterson for finding the critical piece: youth rowers.”

All photos courtesy of Ben Booth, Dharma Voyage