Japan Leadership Development Program


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Camp Details

Explore Japan Using Rowing as a Bridge

Watch the World Junior Rowing Championships in the mega-city of Tokyo. Then imagine yourself rowing with Japanese juniors in Kyoto, a city that is over 1,000 years old and considered the heart of Japan. You’ll pass (and later visit) Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples, where you will meet and speak with Zen monks. Speak, train, and spend a few nights with Japanese juniors who are as passionate about your sport as you are - but live different lives. Visit Hiroshima. Before the program ends, your group will attempt to summit the 12,388 foot Mount Fuji - at sunrise. 

Challenge Your Awareness

You will develop perspective on yourself as an athlete and an individual. You may have the opportunity to navigate Japan in an independent or small group quest of your own design during camp. You’ll emerge a more aware, independent, and resilient person - qualities that lend to better leadership skills.

Have no doubt: grappling with the differences in culture and language and drawing insight from them over your time in Japan will be challenging and exhausting. This camp is open to rowers and coxswains, but neither group should expect familiarity with the training, rowing environment, or even the boats. The challenge of camp is to continue to keep your mind open as you develop your awareness as you utilize the sport and the group to gain perspective on the world and yourself. 

As you summit Mount Fuji at the end of camp and look down at Tokyo, you’ll look back at two weeks of realization, reflection, and insight into a place about as far from home as you can get - and recognize the experience could not have given you all that it did without the sport - or without the group.

Determing if You're A Fit

It is the desire to use rowing to gain a greater perspective on how you relate to the world that characterizes ideal Japan program athletes. 
Talent is relative: the rowing aspect of this program does not require high levels of talent, but mandates thoughtfulness, responsibility, and humilty.



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Meet Hilary

Counseling Associate

Hilary Gehman spent 15 years coaching rowing at the collegiate level, working first in a club program, then assistant coach for two separate DI programs, before seven years as the Staley head coach of women’s rowing at Cornell University. She has been a college counselor with Sparks since 2015. An accomplished athlete, Hilary is also a two-time rowing Olympian and six-time National Team member.

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