For Communities In Schools of Charleston, S.C. Site Coordinator Christopher “Kit” Fox, helping students is a lifelong adventure.
As a teenager, Fox struggled with listening to authority figures and focusing in the classroom. But after participating in Outward Bound programs, dedicated to teaching empowerment and leadership skills through outdoor-based activities, Fox found the focus he needed and decided to dedicate his life to helping students find their direction by participating in the great outdoors. After high school, he graduated from college with a degree in adventure education. As a therapeutic instructor, he supported students by taking them away from daily distractions and giving them a chance to build self-confidence in nature.
Now in his third year with Communities In Schools, Fox continues to use his adventure education skills to help young people find their way. Last summer, the site coordinator worked with five students to build a 21-foot pirogue, a type of flat-bottomed boat.
“Over the summer they learned how to use basic hand tools to create something beautiful and functional,” Fox said. “We taught them a marketable skill, got them away from the TV, and created a passion they can take with them. It was really great.”
In addition to working with tools, Fox also taught the students how to swim and fish. Despite the fact that many of the students the site coordinator works with live near water, due to their parents’ hectic work schedules, the students did not have anyone to teach them how to swim.
“It was really exciting and rewarding,” Fox said. “We worked all summer to get them comfortable with the water. At the beginning they were afraid. It was murky and there were waves, and they were scared. But by the time we launched the boat they were like fish.”
On the day Fox and the students first set the boat afloat, more than 70 people walked down to the beach to cheer them on. The only way Fox could describe the students’ faces when they saw the boat out on the water was “beaming.”
“I was proud of what they had accomplished and it felt good to see them so happy. It was a lot of hard work, but they learned patience and so many different skills, and to see it all come to fruition was amazing.”
Even though summer is over and everyone is getting ready for winter weather, Fox is looking ahead. He already has the materials donated to build a 16-foot sea kayak, and hopes to have last summer’s participants help teach a new group of youth woodworking skills.
“I’m really excited about getting even more students involved in outdoor activities,” Fox said.