Working for Sparks the past five years, I’ve held a lot of different roles: from starting as a counselor at our domestic camps to being Program Manager for trips abroad. Truth be told, the most difficult role I’ve ever had was that of a coxswain in Holland.
We took our rowers out in large wooden quads, wide enough the boat easily stays upright even when there are no oars in place, for a leisurely row through the canals of Amsterdam. Having spent the vast majority of my time as a rower, I was curious to find out exactly how hard coxing really is. And I found out…
Between narrow bridges where the rowers had to lie back and hold the oars parallel to the boat so we could fit through, to the plethora of tour boats we had to dodge, I learned exactly how difficult this role can be. Fortunately, by the time we returned to the boat club no one was hurt and the boat only suffered a little cosmetic damage.
While I can never predict what adventures I will find myself and the campers undertaking, I know we are going to have a unique experience and some great times. It is only March, but summer is coming and with it a whole new set of experiences, adventures, and, be I so lucky, a chance at redemption as a coxswain.
Dave Payne heads Sparks’ experiential education program. Before assuming the overall camp director position, Dave spent three southern hemisphere winters directing the Sparks program in Dunedin, New Zealand. Prior to his time in New Zealand, Dave spent five summers as a counselor and programming director for an immersion program for domestic and international high school students; three in Boston and two in Florence. After completing a successful rowing career at UCSD, Dave worked his first coaching job at Gippsland Grammar in Australia. He has also served as high school rowing coach and teacher in San Diego and New York City and holds a deep passion for education, both domestically and abroad.