This is a letter from Shirley Gee, of the International Dragon Boat Association, to the planning consultants conducting the workshops for the Eastshore State Park.

Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001
From: Shirley S. T. Gee (
To: Eastshore State Park (

As the Eastshore State Park project is already underway, we would like to officially submit the following information for consideration and inclusion as you contemplate use for this public park:

Dragon boating is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world and its growth in the Bay Area in the last five years has been phenomenal. With a rich history that goes back to China 2,000 years, it has rapidly become the sport of choice for communities who are trying to help youth navigate through their adolescent years physically and pschologically intact. It is through dragon boating that we teach youth the importance of being part of a broader community and the positive benefits which can be derived from such an association. Dragon boating is one of the most "inclusive" sports available and enables athletes of all abilities to participate; hence its popularity. A "couch potato" and football athlete can get into a boat and be "athletic equals". There are no superstars in dragon boating, just teammates.

A dragon boat is a 48 foot canoe which seats 20 paddlers (two abreast), a drummer and a steerer. Teams race down lanes (3-12 lanes) for distances as short as 250 meters to as long as 1200 meters. With a crew of 25 per team (22 in a boat at a time), this sport teaches not only teamwork, but respect for their community and the environment in which they live and play. In the process they are also exposed to the concept of heritage and tradition which is important to the preservation of cultures.

The International Dragon Boat Association, producers of the annual California International Dragon Boat Festival in Jack London Square, also has used dragon boating as a vehicle for community development. We have successfully trained over 3500 youth and parents to paddle over the last 5 years. Dragon boating is a very user friendly sport with paddlers ranging from 13-65 years old. Dragon Boating is also the means by which we have gotten communities of interest (and of disinterest) together to learn about one another and to experience first hand our marine environment and the awesome responsibility of being respectful custodians of nature.

We all came down a canoe at some point in our collective history on the rivers of our ancestors... it is appropriate that we should meet again on the waters to learn about one another and about a gift called, "nature". In the last five years, we have demonstrated that people, animals and nature can co-exist harmoniously together. We have also demonstrated to our children that nature should be "experienced", not just viewed; as it was intended to "feed the soul, not just the eyes". And in letting them experience the birds, animals and elements, they came to appreciate nature and natural things as they no longer viewed these things from an abstract view (as from a book), but from hearing, seeing, feeling, and smelling these things. What better way to teach respect for nature then from nature itself.

Dragon boating is a wonderful way to access nature, community, and youth and we hope the Eastshore State Park project will include the dragon boat community as it begins to solidify its vision so that "all" people will have access to the public facilities, not just a few select or special interest groups. Not only does our community believe in the "spirt of the dragon", but our local, state and national public officials have come to embrace it as well.

Respectfully submitted,
Shirley Gee
President and Founder
International Dragon Boat Association