First Person

Hanging in There for Kids

I’m an instructor for Red Wolf Wilderness Adventures in the Black Creek Wilderness of the Desoto National Forest in Mississippi. I work with school kids from the area in outdoor programs that foster team- and confidence-building, outdoor and wilderness skills.

It’s rewarding to help them discover that they can do whatever they set their minds to do, which is not necessarily the case when they first arrive.

You could say this somewhat reflects my own experience when I came to Maine Maritime (and graduated in 1992 in Marine Engineering Technology). I had been challenged in high school by some who thought I wouldn’t make it six months on my own.

I remember coming back at the end of my freshman cruise and talking to some of those same people about having been to Leningrad, England, Denmark and more. I said, “In just a few months I’ve already accomplished more than you’ve done.”

The insight gained from being able to go to sea and having hands-on experience in just about everything you do at the academy helps you realize how much you can do if you’re willing to work for it.

Bouncing Around

After MMA I worked almost nine years for Wärtsilä, a Finnish corporation that manufactures and services power sources and other equipment in the marine and energy markets. As a single guy, I didn’t have any issues with where I worked.

I was a field service engineer, a field service supervisor, warranty engineer–depending on what title I needed to be given to do whatever job I was doing–and did stints all over. There was an 18-month period, for example, where I lived out of two suitcases and averaged two to three days per job. My last year with them I was a workshop manager for the New Orleans office, along with doing field service. I settled down there, got married and started a family.

Scouting New Course

I first came to Red Wolf as leader of my son’s Cub Scout den, which visited the camp on an outing. Later, the connection evolved into a seasonal job I now have. It’s a special place.

We bring diverse groups of kids together in a unique wilderness setting where there are few creature comforts. They quickly learn important skills, out of necessity. We have the kids involved in ropes courses, rock wall climbing, climbing “real” rocks, for example, and when they complete the course or reach the top, they come away exhilarated. The feeling is there: “if I can do this, what else can I do?”


Photo: courtesy of Jeffrey Coit

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2 Comments on "Hanging in There for Kids"

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Happy to know people are still aware that children should play with rough stuff from the earth and not indulge with mobile phones and video games.Because soft things make soft people.
You are doing great job.
These kids should know Mother Nature’s perks.
Again, thank you very much.

Definitely agree that this takes kids out of their comfort zone and allows for them to discover new lengths that they wouldn’t otherwise know.

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