The new senior director of the H. E. Butt Foundation Outdoor School, Alex Bailey has been shaped by his experiences outdoors: time fishing with his grandfather in the Clear Fork River in Mansfield, Ohio, camping with his family, and summers spent as a camp counselor in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
“It’s those moments of magic that happen in nature that are hard to recreate, those special moments of relationship building,” Alex said.
In 2019, Bailey co-founded Black Outside, Inc., an organization that reconnects Black youth with the outdoors. In the organization’s first eight months, it offered multiple outdoor experiences, including a revived version of Camp Founder Girls, the oldest summer camp in the country for Black girls.
Less than a year after taking a step of faith to create Black Outside, Alex took another to lead the Outdoor School, which focuses on partnering with Title I schools to bring them to the Canyon for overnight retreats. (He remains on the Black Outside board.)
He is confident that students will feel the same thing he felt when he first stepped into the Frio River Canyon last spring and when fishing with his grandfather as a child magic.
“I can still hear the water swooshing against the banks,” Alex said. “When I’m looking for peace, I look back to that moment when the wind was breezing by us, the silence, the tranquility.”