A program for culturally curious students. Our Italy program is designed for athletes who want develop their skills on the water in small boats and gain a deeper appreciation of foreign cultures. Successful participants are open to new experiences and willing to explore. Students train with Italian juniors, work with Italian adaptive rowers, and travel to a senior national team regatta in Switzerland, allowing them to enjoy the fun of new experiences coupled with the challenge of a small language barrier (Italians speak pretty good, but not perfect, English). The program is open to mid-tier (underclassmen) and older, though all participants must be mature enough to handle being in countries where not everyone speaks fluent English.
Athletes train as a group in the morning and with Italian juniors in the afternoon. These afternoon sessions give athletes the opportunity to train with foreign rowers and experience how another country approaches the sport. While coaches and juniors speak English fairly well, athletes will need to learn a little Italian along the way.
Training will take place on the Po River out of Canottieiri Armida (the Armida Rowing Club), one of the oldest clubs in Italy. Rowers will train in small boats (singles, doubles, and pairs) though may also train in larger boats depending on conditions.
Athletes should expect to come away with better small boat rowing skills tempered by new perspective on the fun of the sport thanks to their environment.
Rowers will be allowed to explore the city of Turin to take in the cultural sites. Though a smaller city, Turin still is home to amazing architecture, spectacular museums, and, of course, delicious food. Being small it is also safer and easier to explore than other European cities. Campers will be taken on a few excursions around the city to look at some of the more impressive sites, including Il Mole Antonelliana, the tallest unreinforced brick building in the world, which now houses a cinema museum.
Athletes will travel to Lucerne, Switzerland over the weekend during the program to attend Rowing World Cup III on the Rotsee. This is a senior national team (Olympic-level) regatta and qualifying event for the World Rowing Championships. It doesn’t get any faster. Male athletes may have the chance to participate in the JM8+ exhibition event during the regatta.
Club Armida caters to rowers with physical and mental disabilities – and has one of the top adaptive rowing programs in Europe. During their time in Italy, athletes will assist with adaptive rowing.
Adaptive athletes train four times a week. Assistance during training will entail tasks ranging from helping set up equipment to going on the water and assisting with rowing. The language barrier may be greater with some of the para-rowers, and, as such, presents its own challenges. To find success with this program, athletes must willing to take on new challenges, on and off the water.
Talk to most anyone in elite (read: Olympic-level) rowing, and they either know Antonio or have a one degree connection. He is one of the best known event managers in the sport of rowing having worked 2016, 2012, and 2006 Olympics as well as the 2003 and 2010 World Rowing Championships – and he is (of course) extremely well-networked in Italy. Beyond managing a number of events in his home country from Formula One to Golf to Rhythmic Gymnastics, he has served in a number of elected management positions in the Italian rowing community. Antonio facilitates logistics and coaching for our Italian program.
Dave heads Sparks’ Experiential Education Program. Before assuming the overall Director of Camps position, Dave spent three southern hemisphere winters directing the Sparks Development 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 served as a high school rowing coach and teacher in San Diego and New York City. He currently teaches at an IB middle school in Washington DC, maintaining his deep passion for education, both domestically and abroad.
We’re happy to consider everyone for our program.