Bahamas Winter Small Boats Program

Paradise and Rowing - does it get any better?

Imagine 4 days of intensive, individulized technical training in the Bahamas coached by two internationally-recognized experts with a very small group of enthuastic peers. 

Now imagine a small community off the water committed to the study of rowing - where you will continue to learn and grow with staff and peers. There is recommended reading prior to camp. While on-water training will take place up to three times per day, the off-water component is just as important. We will discuss establishing flow as a learning tool during training.

This camp maxes out at 17 athletes, and the staff to student ratio is 1:4. 

And yes, imagine crystal blue waters and white sand beaches - we will spend time at the beach in Nassau, which was not impacted by the hurricane. 10% of 2019 Sparks winter camp proceeds will go directly to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts. 

Intensive small boat training and coaching provides an understanding of rowing otherwise hard to acheive - in fact, every other developed rowing country outside of the US starts novices in the single and enables them to "grow into" the larger boat classes. Small boats are more responsive - and combined with seasoned coaching, athletes can develop an intuitive understanding of rowing not possible in the 4+ or the 8+. 

Determing if You're A Fit

A high degree of maturity, thirst for scientifically-based rowing knowledge, and a desire to take part in a thoughtful, intentional community characterize good fits for this program. 

Talent is relative: ultimately, it is the intensity of your desire to learn in order to develop that will make this camp a successful choice. 

Finally, one hour of college counseling with any of our experienced team of former Olympians and Division I coaches (normally $400) is included upon completion of the program.

If you have questions, we're happy to speak further. 

Click the bottom right corner to send us a message, or setup a time to talk below.

Set Up A Call To Talk Further

Bahamas Winter Small Boats Program

Michelle Darvill

Former Canadian National Team Coach

Introduced to rowing at the Don Rowing Club in her hometown of Mississauga, Michelle Darvill went on to compete successfully for her club, university and countries. While at the University of Toronto she was coached by Peter Cookson and later on the National Team by Al Morrow.

As an athlete, Michelle competed for both Canada and Germany winning multiple titles and medals at World Championships and World Cups. She transitioned to coaching and has since worked with all classes and levels; High School beginner, Development, Para, National Team and masters.

From 2009 to 2016 she led the U23 Canadian Women’s Team, with crews winning 9 medals. In 2007 and 2011 she coached Pan Am crews to 8 medals and in 2017 she was the crew coach of the silver medal Senior Women’s 8+. Michelle was honoured with the Petro-Canada Excellence Award in 2018.

Andrew Carter

Head Coach, University of Iowa Women's Rowing

During his coaching career, Carter has earned more than 50 championship medals, and over the last 15 years, he has coached 12 All-Americans and 59 National Scholar-Athletes. Before becoming a Hawkeye, he turned Miami into a nationally-ranked program, and led Clemson to its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference title and NCAA Championship appearance.

Prior to Miami, Carter was head coach of the men's and women's rowing programs at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He led the Bobcats women's team to back-to-back NCAA Division III Women's Rowing Championships appearances, and the men's team became one of the top programs in an NCAA division. During the 2006-07, Carter spent a sabbatical year, serving as director of coach development for Otago Rowing Association in Dunedin -- the capital of Otaga province in New Zealand. While working with Otaga Rowing, he headed the regional high performance ID and development program, while overseeing more than 40 coaches and 20 regional programs.

Before his time at Bates, Carter spent the 1999-00 season as an assistant coach at the University of Southern California. From 1996-99, he served as head rowing coach at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Carter has also coached various successful collegiate, club, and provincial programs throughout his native Canada.

Carter spent two years working at Canada's National Rowing Center in London, Ontario, prior to coming to the United States. He earned his bachelor's degree in kinesiology-biomechanics from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a master's degree in kinesiology-biomechanics from the University of Western Ontario. Highly regarded in both the academic and coaching fields, Carter is a regular speaker at national and international coaching conferences on topics in biomechanics, technique, equipment, and training.

Bahamas Winter Small Boats Program

  • Who:  Athletes aged 14-18 who can demonstrate thoughtfulness; open to any all per NCAA regulations, but we reserve the right to discourage participation based on maturity. 
  • When:  December 27-30, 2019
  • Size:  17 athletes maximum; staff to athlete ratio is 1:4
  • Cost:  $1,750*
  • Where:  Nassau Rowing Club/Lake Cunningham, New Providence Island. The camp is housed in a hostel on the ocean and transported to and from camp daily. 
  • Questions: We'd be glad to speak with you; click on the live chat in the bottom right corner.
  • Register/Apply: The application procedure is under the Registration tab. If you have any questions, please contact on the live chat. 
  • Camp Forms: Camp Forms may be found on your dashboard within 6 weeks of camp. 
  • Supervision:  The small program allows for close overwatch, but just as small boats require an ability to train independently - the program requires participants to be able to act on their own at times.
  • Refunds and Cancellation: Refunds minus a $500 deposit (after acceptance to the program) are available until November 1. After November 1, refunds are not available. As a policy, we also reserve the right to cancel programming and issue a full refund up to 30 days prior to program start. 
  • *10% of winter camp proceeds go to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts; one hour of individualized college counseling is also included. 

    If you have questions, we're happy to speak further. 

    Click the bottom right corner to send us a message, or setup a time to talk below.

    Set Up A Call To Talk Further

Bahamas Winter Small Boats Program

Committing to Community

Per NCAA rules, this camp is open to "any and all" - however, benefitting from Sparks intermediate camps requires an ability to contribute to your and others' experience. This camp requests a written statement outlining your goals for camp and how you will support other campers in accomplishing theirs as a part of finalizing your registration. A sincere willingness to invest in your (and by extension, other campers') experience is more valuable than perfect writing or expression (or on-water speed!). You'll receive an e-mail after paying for camp with instructions on how to submit the statement.

Discount Codes

Day and Same Calendar Year Return Campers are eligible for discounted tuition. Please contact us on the live chat in the bottom right corner for questions and/or discount codes!

Dec 27 2019 - Dec 30 2019

Men Women
Good Availability Good Availability
Men Good Availability OPEN
Women Good Availability OPEN

Bahamas Winter Small Boats Program

You'll fly over emerald green water and land at Nassau airport to be met by a member of our staff. We'll then head to the lodging to make introductions to your program peers - which is a hostel on the ocean, convienently located a 5 minutes' drive to the rowing site on Lake Cunningham. 

Of course, you'll have already taken a look at the reading for this rowing camp - Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - given an understanding of flow will be important to the quality of your technical work over the next few days. 

After introductions are made all around given our 1:4 staff/student ratio, we'll head to the lake for an initial session and evaluation of skill by the coaching staff. Evaluation will include a look at athletes' technique in the boats as well as a discussion (and potential alignment) of goals for camp (and post-camp) with the staff. 

We'll head back to the lodging for dinner and a beachside campfire to enable everyone to get to know each other better.

You'll row three times a day over the next two days. Off-water activities will include individual video review and technical instruction. You should leave camp with a much better idea of your own technical capabilities and limitations as well as a more informed sense of boat feel. Staff will also be available to answer questions in regards to recruiting and all other things rowing, though this camp is more focused on providing you with a far better understanding of your own technique.

Time permitting, we'll also speak with Dorian refugees and give students an idea of the disaster. Gratitude and thoughtfulness are important factors in performance, on and off the water. 

We'll also spend time at the beach. Nothing is better for recovery than cool water and white sand - especially when experienced together. 

On the last day of camp, each student will receive individualized feedback from coaching staff following the final water session. There aren't enough strokes at camp to lock in technical changes, but the result of the previous 3 days should give athletes an informed sense of direction for the coming months. 

You'll say goodbye to the group and be driven to the Nassau airport by our camp staff - and then board your flight back to reality, ready with a plan for improvement to execute long into the future. 

Important Dates and Times

  • Check-in runs 11 AM - 2 PM on the 27th of December; flights should arrive prior to 1 PM. We do run an airport shuttle from NAS. 
  • Camp ends at 12 PM on the 30th of December
  • Times for Day Campers are generally from 8 AM to 9 PM
  • More specific information is available in the registration packet - though we're always available in the lower right hand corner for questions. 
  • Don't miss the details tab for more information

Bahamas Winter Small Boats Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Sparks?

Our community and our values. We believe performance is a byproduct of community, rather than community being a byproduct of performance. 

We are the only camp in rowing with a full-time staff that has academic and professional backgrounds in experiential education. We also have a summer operations staff (many are returners that teach during the school year) who buy into the idea of personal growth at camp not just for campers - but for themselves as well.

The result is a culture sincerely committed to the power of rowing as a personally transformative experience built on vulnerability, thoughtfulness, responsibility, and initiative. 

This does not mean other camps are relatively inferior; in fact, we feel such a perspective is not helpful. The camp needs to fit the athlete. Our focus is on utilizing rowing to create self-awareness for our camp community.

What level of experience is necessary for camp?

Please see the "Determining If You're A Fit" Section under the Camp Overview tab and the "Who May Apply" section under the "Register" tab. 

In short, anyone can attend this camp (with any level of sculling experience) - but return on investment is a crtical factor. In order to have a successful camp experience, we desire to attract thoughtful athletes who seek to develop their technical knowledge of the sport. They should ideally possess at least a season of rowing experience. 

Where are camp forms found?

Camp forms are issued at least six weeks prior to camp on our site via your dashboard.


Tell me about safety at Sparks.

We employ safety and risk management practices from the adventure education industry, where some risk is inherent but must be quantified insofar as educational value. These practices are initially employed in program design and we work hard to train operations staff to seek to maintain an awareness of specific risks at all times. No outdoors programming can guarantee safety, however professional management of risk is key to the art of providing consistently excellent experiential education programming.