CDBA is proud of its Youth Dragon Boat Program which has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2003.
What started with a few local high school teams informally racing has transformed into the largest youth dragon boat program in North America and is considered a model nationally.
Since 2009, over 900 youth from local Bay Area high schools and community youth organizations have participated in the CDBA’s year round after-school and week-end dragon boat program.
Two races are organized specifically for youth teams annually, the CDBA Youth Championship takes places in the Spring and is geared towards local teams, while the Northern California International Dragon boat Festival (formerly, the San Francisco International Dragon Boat Festival) CDBA’s showcase event that takes place in the Fall, has a highly competitive Youth Division.
Dragon boating is a gender non-discriminative sport. Over the last few years, there have been an equal number of teams in the girls and boys divisions.
The CDBA Youth Program is open to youth ages 14 - 18 years old in high school and/or youth groups and is subsidized through CDBA membership, sponsors, fundraising, grants, and race proceeds. CDBA does not charge a due for youth participants and all membership benefits include access to practice facilities, boats and equipment.
Crews have traveled both within the United States and internationally to Canada, Taiwan, and Macau to participate in the cultural exchange component of dragon boating.
Youth are increasingly taking leadership roles within their teams, and some have graduated and gone on to start college level dragon boat teams thus promoting intergenerational leadership within dragon boating. This resulted in the formation of the CDBA College Cup Dragon Boat Race in 2004, which is now held annually in November.
Over the years, CDBA has built a strong body of “homegrown” coaches who return to coach adult and/or youth crews, continuing to participate for the teamwork and camaraderie that the sport provides. Many of these “homegrown” coaches are a testament to how generations, from a youth to adult paddler, give back to the dragon boat community.
Dragon Boat Benefits for Youth
Dragon boating is an ideal sort for high school youth since it is easily accessible. It is a team activity where there can be no one “star” as the success of the boat depends upon how well the team works together. In a dragon boat, even the strongest person must work together with the rest of the paddlers or the boat will not run well. The dynamic promotes teamwork and the spirit of working together towards a common goal.. The positive impact of dragon boating for youth reaches far beyond the obvious benefit of fitness and recreation. Dragon boating teaches values such as sportsmanship, discipline, confidence, competition, teamwork, and a sense of focus with the preservation of a cultural heritage. Leadership skills and abilities are developed by youth who take on various roles within their team.