Sparks Penn Rowing Camp

Penn Rowing Camp on a Sparks Platform

Built off years of experience in coordination with the UPenn coaching staff, Penn Rowing Camp provides students with a concretely greater awareness of their rowing and themselves while also enabling campers to experience the University of Pennsylvania over five days.

Head Women’s Coach Wesley Ng writes, “Rowing will change your life. That is our passionate belief at the University of Pennsylvania. The pursuit of national-caliber boat speed requires training that emphasizing skill development, personal growth, team cohesion, and an exciting level of discipline. At Penn we know this is a life changing experience and when combined with an Ivy League educational environment the possibilities for fundamentally changing your future are right in front of you, even over 5 days. We’re excited to be able to open a door for motivated young rowers to experience that first moment of what an Ivy League rowing experience can change within you. “

The Penn Student-Athlete Experience

Camp at Penn provides a detailed picture of the demands and privileges of being a student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania. Campers live in the Penn dorms, row out of the Penn boathouse, and are coached by the Penn staff. Though one can only improve so much technically in five days, it is an inspirational and educational experience for many young rowing athletes to picture where their rowing career might take them.

The Sparks Rowing Camp Experience

Successful participants desire to learn more about rowing, understand their own potential for long-term growth and according possibilities, come with intention – and have fun. They have arrive at camp with questions, proactively seek answers (sometimes from specific coaches), and are open to the unexpected.

Pre-camp goal setting creates intention amongst campers, individual meetings with coaches at camp informs them, and they undergo a camp program meant to raise awareness of specific aspects of campers’ rowing and coxing while maintaining a positive, fun environment.

Finally, campers also undergo a longer evaluation process than other short rowing camps meant to help them recognize their personal strengths and weaknesses and derive a six week training program geared specifically for their level after camp. We believe longer evaluation enables the most benefit insofar as specific coaching available at any short-term rowing camp.

Athletes who want to get involved in rowing or coxing are invited to join our Learn to Row program. LTR campers enjoy the same benefits listed above, as well as a coach dedicated to teaching them the basics of our sport.

A Coxswain Development Camp

We are beyond passionate about working with coxswains and maintain an annually evaluated, extremely experienced coxswain coaching staff for our camps.

We see many students who are thirsty for guidance but are unsure how to develop as coxswains or go through the recruiting cycle. There’s a real need in our community for coxswain education; therefore, we created the first coxswain-specific development camp and interlaced it with our rowing camp. We urge you to watch the film we made about our curriculum, designed by US Olympic coxswain Marcus McElhenney and US Junior team coxswain coach Laura Simon among other elite coxswains.

Coxswains will cox, spend time with a four-point system of one-on-one technical evaluations with our coxing staff, and attend small group seminars to discuss tapes, calls, steering, drills, and recruiting as they relate to their specific level with their own dedicated coaching staff - made up of one or two coaches with national team or Olympic coxing experience also certified in our curriculum. 

(The Penn integrated coxswain camp differs from our coxswains only camps in that it does have many training components just for coxswains, but the water time is specifically geared toward intensive boat coaching first. The coxswains only camps on the other hand is exclusively about coxing.)

Rowing Camp that Produces Fun and Results

There is a disconnect in the number of American junior athletes who are able to push collegiate recruiting standards higher given disparities in access, training, and available knowledge. We aim to address this need at camp.

This camp is ideal for students who want to obtain a better idea of what being a student-athlete at Penn entails – particularly if they’re years away from actually making the college decision and need to start to get an idea of what they’re looking for. The ideal is for camp to further empower athletes to recognize their love for the sport and believe in their ability to achieve great things as a result of their commitment to rowing.

Each of our staff has made rowing the focus of their lives, has enjoyed and been successful at it, and understands how important it is to pass the torch. We see our rowing camp as a place where campers can find their place in rowing and be challenged to grow as athletes and as individuals.

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

Set Up A Call To Talk Further

Sparks Penn Rowing Camp

Wesley Ng

Head Coach, Penn Women’s Rowing

Coach Ng has been named Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Division III Coach of the Year, the ECAC Coach of the Year, the Joy of Sculling Collegiate Coach of the Year, and the USRowing Fan’s Choice Collegiate Coach of the Year. He was hired at Penn in 2015 after serving as the head women’s coach at Trinity college for nine years. “Wesley set the bar for what Penn needs in its next head coach,” said Penn’s Director of Athletics, M. Grace Calhoun, at the time of Ng’s hiring. “He has a winning head coaching record, a proven ability to develop student-athletes, positive character traits, and experience as both an Ivy League student-athlete and coach. During the interview process, I also was impressed with how Wes thinks outside the box with his training methods and the use of technology. Wes is a rising star and a very sought-after coach, and we are lucky to have him lead our program.”

Libby Peters

Assistant Coach, Penn Women’s Rowing

A former U.S. National Team member, Libby came to Penn after coaching Olympic development crews at Vesper Boat Club. She also served as a senior counseling associate with Sparks Consulting. Prior to Vesper and Sparks, Libby worked as the women’s recruiter at Columbia University. Libby has also worked with multiple high school teams in the Philadelphia area, including Germantown Academy. One of her notable achievements prior to her career at Columbia was founding Philadelphia City Rowing Association, which was the first free, competitive program for underserved youth in Philadelphia.

Scott Wisniewski

Assistant Coach, Penn LWT Men’s Rowing

Scott Wisniewski is a well-known figure in Philadelphia rowing. He comes to Penn by way of Villanova and Yale — though prior to that he spent five years as a coach at Vesper Boat Club. Scott was the head men’s coach at Villanova and an assistant with the lightweights at Yale. He helps Colin Farrel with recruiting for the lightweight program at Penn. Wisniewski has also served as a coach with the U.S. national team.

Vera Terlouw

Coxswain, Dutch Development Program

Vera Terlouw is a Dutch native and national team hopeful. She hails from one of the most successful countries in our sport. Her coxing experience includes Henley and much of the European circuit with Dutch development and elite level crews. She was attracted to Sparks given her interest in coxing education whereby she has coached coxswains and developed coxswain selection procedures for multiple clubs in Holland. She is an engineer by training and is interested in fluid dynamics. We’re excited to bring an international perspective into a game that can suffer from local bias.

Anderson Bourell

Rowing Specific Yoga and Holistic Health Instructor

The subject of a NYTimes piece on Mike Piazza, Anderson’s title is a little crazy, but it’s true. After prep school in Boston, baseball, and acting (he appeared in Fight Club) in his youth he choose to concentrate in holistic health – i.e. stretching, breathing, yoga, and nutrition – for rowing athletes. He is a known member of the community, attended Harvard training camps with Harry Parker for 10 years and has also been party to multiple New England prep schools’ efforts of the same nature. He has worked in the UK with junior athletes and with a variety of national teams. Anderson is not a typical rowing person in his concentration on holistic health or his approach, but he maintains a following that only lucky coaches enjoy.

Michiel Bartman

Director of Rowing
Port Rowing
Three-time Olympic medalist

A rowing coach with his own wikipedia entry, Michiel Bartman’s Olympic medals and current position speak for themselves. Prior to coaching the Harvard LWT men, he worked with their LWT women. Previous to that, Michiel was the head coach at Vesper boat club in Philadelphia, a high-performance training center for athletes intent on making the national team. Michiel won gold in the 8+ at the 1996 Olympics, silver in the 4X at the 2000 Olympics, and Silver in the 8+ at the 2004 Olympics – all for the Netherlands. Moreover, as a well-rounded educator Michiel cares deeply about his athletes and utilizes the same intensity he won Olympic medals with to instill a deep understanding and love for the sport in those he coaches.

Andrew Hess

Assistant Coach Men's LWT Rowing, Columbia University

Coach Hess is in his first year as the assistant lightweight men’s coach for the 2016 national lightweight champions and handles recruiting for the Lions. Prior to Columbia, Hess worked at Community Rowing, Inc in Boston as an assistant boy’s coach with former Sparks counselor and current head boys’ coach Wayne Berger. Andrew also acted as communications manager for one of the largest rowing clubs in the country. He holds an MBA in values-based leadership from Xavier.

Mark Davis

Head Coach Men’s Rowing, George Washington University

Prior to being head coach at George Washington University, Coach Davis was the heavyweight freshman coach at Yale University. Before that, head coach at University of California — San Diego, recruiting coordinator for the University of Texas, head men’s and women’s coach at Colby College and novice coach at Hobart and William Smith College. Davis’ 16 years of experience transforming club programs into elite Division I, II and II varsity programs has given him a greatly unique appreciation and respect for building teams through effective coaching and recruiting.

Peter Wiersum

Men’s Olympic Coxswain, Dutch National Team

Peter and the Dutch 8+ won bronze in the 2015 World Championships, ahead of the US Men and in a qualifying slot for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. This will be Peter’s third Olympiad after ’08 in Beijing and ’12 in London. Peter coaches juniors and coxswains in the Netherlands, (and for whatever reason found it beneficial to translate some of Marcus McElhenney’s work for Dutch coxswains!). He is a coxswain with a level of racing experience that less than five coxswains on the planet have enjoyed.

Harlan Trevithick

Asst. Coach Women’s Rowing, The George Washington University

Harlan handles recruiting for the Colonials. Harlan began her venture into the professional rowing community as program director for Row New York, which provides rowing and and academic support to underserved young people in New York City. She then moved to the Capitol City Rowing Club in Washington, DC and served as an executive director; simultaneously she led Juniors After School Rowing, an academic and community service program.

Wendy Wilbur

Assistant Coach Women's Rowing, University of Texas

Coach Wilbur hails from a team which has surprised and impressed the rowing community given its recent successes – especially since “Austin” isn’t “Boston” in terms of its history in the sport (but who knows what the future holds). She joins the Longhorns after serving as an assistant coach the last five seasons for Harvard University’s Radcliffe Crew. Wilbur helped Radcliffe win medals at the 2013 and 2014 Ivy League Championships and mentored novice rowers who earned positions in NCAA Championship squad boats from 2011-14. “When I saw where the rowing program at The University of Texas was headed, I knew it was a staff on which I wanted to be a part,” Wilbur said. “With my years as an elite athlete and collegiate coach, I hope to add to the talented leadership already in place. The future looks bright, and I am honored to play a role in the development of the team.”

Cassandra Cunningham

US Women’s Junior National Rowing Team Coach and Founder of Power of 3

Cassandra Cunningham began her rowing career at Sacramento State, where she earned three state championship titles as well as the 1995 Pacific Coast Rowing Championships in the Women’s Varsity Eight. After graduating she spent three years training with the Women’s U.S. Rowing National Team where she won two silver medals in the women’s lightweight quad. After her time on the National team, she earned a Masters of Education from University of Massachusetts, while also coaching their lightweight women’s team. She spent three years at the University of Pennsylvania as the Women’s Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator. Coach Cunningham has spent the past nine years assisting with the US Women’s Junior National Rowing Team. She established Power of 3, LLC in September, 2015

Mike Irwin

Head Coach for Saint Joseph’s University

Mike Irwin’s coaching career has spanned more than 25 years, including seven seasons at the University of Pennsylvania as the men’s lightweight head coach and director of boathouse operations. He also coached for seven years at Yale University, working first with the freshman lightweight crew and then the freshman heavyweight crew. He was a boatman for the United States National Team at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, and was a member of the U.S. National Team staff for a total of five World Championships, dating back to 1999. Mike just completed his sixth season as head coach of men’s rowing at Saint Joseph’s University.

Sparks Penn Rowing Camp

  • Who:  A coed camp for high school rowers and coxswains ages 15-19
  • Duration:  5 days
  • When: 
    • July 17-21, 2018
    • July 24-28, 2018
    • July 31- August 4, 2018
  • Cost:  $1,295 for overnight campers
  • Where:  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - students will be housed in Harnwell Hall at the University of Pennsylvania and row out of UPenn's boathouse (The Madeira Shell House) on boathouse row. Shuttles will run between Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and camp on the first and last day of camp.
  • Day Campers:  Please see the Registration tab for day camper discount.
  • Registration:  See our Registration tab.
  • Questions:  Email
  • Supervision:  The staff lives amongst the student athletes, and has oversight 24 hours a day. Unhealthy substances and/or behaviors are strictly prohibited.
  • Payment/Refunds:  Payments may be made in full at by using the table on the registration tab. Refunds minus a $500 deposit are available until a month before camp.
  • Camp Forms:  Legally binding agreements are signed via e-mail at time of registration. All other camp documents are be made available 6 weeks prior to camp on the camp forms tab.
  • Staffing:  Coaches are not guaranteed; some are active national team athletes or coaches and must prioritize that schedule. To find out about a particular coach, shoot us an e-mail.
  • Learn To Row:  A very small number of LTR slots are designed for pure novice crossover athletes who are in 10th grade or later, possess athletic backgrounds, focus, and the comport to engage intensively with their own staff and schedule.

Sparks Penn Rowing Camp

Get Ready for Camp! Click below to Register.

Week 1: July 17-21

Men Women Coxswains LTR


Week 2: July 24-28

Men Women Coxswains LTR


Week 3: July 31 - August 4

Men Women Coxswains LTR


Daycamper? Ask us for the coupon code! 

Sparks Penn Rowing Camp

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
10:00AM - 1 PM Travel to Camp
7AM - 11:15AM Breakfast / Row
7AM - 11:15AM Breakfast / Assessment
7AM - 11:15AM Breakfast / Row
7AM - 10:30AM Breakfast / Regatta


11:15 AM - 11:45 AM Coach / Student Meetings


11:15 AM - 11:45 AM Coach / Student Meetings


11:15 AM - 11:45 AM Coach / Student Meetings
12:00 - 1:00PM Lunch 12:00 - 1:00PM Lunch 12:00 - 1:00PM Lunch
10:30AM - 11:00AM Meet Parents / Snack
11:00 AM - 2:00PM Check-In
1:15PM - 2:15PM Private Coaching
1:15PM - 2:15PM Private Coaching
1:15PM - 2:15PM Private Coaching


11:00AM - 11:30AM Concluding Presentation


2:00PM - 5:30PM Orientation / Assessment


2:30PM - 5:30PM Rowing
2:30PM - 5:30PM Rowing 2:30PM - 5:30PM Rowing


11:30AM - 12:00PM Individual Feedback Collection


5:45PM - 6:30PM Dinner


5:45PM - 6:30PM Dinner


5:45PM - 6:30PM Dinner


5:45PM - 6:30PM Dinner
12:00PM - 12:30PM Depart Camp


7:00PM - 8:00PM Ice Cream Social & Conversations


7:00PM - 7:45PM Conversation


7:00PM - 7:45PM Conversation


7:00PM - 7:45PM Conversation
12:30PM Last Airport Run
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5

Sparks Penn Rowing Camp

Camp forms will be availalbe at least 6 weeks prior to the start of camp.