September 04, 2021 Category: Our Alums Meet Fresh Air

Meet Fresh Air Alum: Thomas Grant

“One of the reasons I wanted to be a Fresh Air Fund instructor is because I went as a kid. I remember my counselors and all the instructors being really great and making my summer experience so great. So, I wanted to do that for other kids, so they could have a life-changing experience as well,” said Thomas Grant.

Thomas has been a camper, counselor-in training, ropes course specialist and most recently a STEM program specialist for The Fund’s virtual camp Fresh Air Everywhere. When The Fund created Fresh Air Everywhere and other new summer programs in response to the pandemic, Thomas was excited to give back to the community that gave him such great memories as a child!

From the moment he was given a leadership position, Thomas did just that. He is known to be the first to lend a helping hand, ask about a camper or counselor’s day, and put a smile on everyone’s face. He may be best known for his positive attitude and paper airplane flying lessons. As part of Fresh Air Everywhere he taught campers how to make aerodynamical sound paper airplanes and build bridges from recycled materials.

“When Thomas started as a counselor, he was still really quiet, but he was the kind of person that the kids could relate to,” said Katie Toole, Program Coordinator at the Sharpe Reservation. “He was someone a lot of kids would look to for support when they were struggling and someone who was always there to listen to them.”

“The most dramatic growth I saw in Thomas was the summer he was a ropes course staff member. His confidence grew immensely – he really came out of his shell and started making jokes, connecting with staff and kids, and getting comfortable in his own skin.”

Bringing Camp Fun Indoors

As a Fresh Air Everywhere instructor, Thomas learned a lot about facilitating interactive online learning, building community, and he learned an entirely new and innovative way to teach and connect with kids!

I’ve gained a lot of experience by teaching with The Fresh Air Fund in different settings.

Thomas Grant, Fresh Air Alum

His favorite memory from last summer was from an engineering class he taught. “I was explaining to the campers how to build the bridges and then eventually, I asked if they had any questions. They started building their bridges, and slowly but surely each child’s parents came and started helping them. Everyone’s mic was off, but all their cameras were on so you could see the kids and their parents building a bridge together. It was something really cool because that’s something different from regular camp,” said Thomas.

Learn how to make your own paper airplane with Thomas! Check out our Fresh Air Everywhere virtual library for more fun activities with our Fresh Air Everywhere counselors!

Thomas also worked at Fresh Air Family Wellness. “We did a lot of team-building and it was really fun to see the kids and their parents having so much fun outdoors” said Thomas.

“He’s grown into someone who makes workdays more fun, staff communities closer, and just a generally great person” said Katie.

A New Adventure

Thomas continues to learn and explore the outdoors with the Student Conservation Association. He recently completed a program working with other young people and the National Forest Service to repair and restore trails, parks and community green spaces. The program gave him the opportunity to travel, meet new people and learn more about possible careers in the outdoors and in environmental education.

Whether you’re a camper or a counselor, each Fresh Air summer brings personal growth through transformative experiences. Thomas’ skillset has expanded through his summers with The Fresh Air Fund and he has made it a personal goal to learn something new through all of his Fresh Air experiences!

“Every time I go back to The Fresh Air Fund, I try to have a different role so I can get more perspective, get a different experience and try to learn different skills,” said Thomas. “I feel like a lot of skills I have are from working in different positions and getting to interact with people in so many ways. Every year my communication skills get better and I gain more confidence. It impacts me in that way, but it’s also just a lot of fun!”