We all wonder where Walker’s graduates end up after their time in high school ends. Some enter the workforce, some go to college, and some even pursue other life goals.
My brother Charles Odle graduated with the class of 2012, and applied to Bevill State Community College for the following school year. Throughout his time at Bevill, he served as an ambassador for the Jasper campus and worked as the director of Club Nat at the Memorial Park Natatorium. Charles graduated in the spring of 2014 with an Associate’s Degree in Biology.
Charles now works as an “island mate” at the Boy Scouts of America Sea Base on Summerland Key, Florida; he made his move down south in May of 2014. He was originally hired as a part of the summer 2014 staff, but was asked to stay on through December at the end of August. He works with crews of kids (ages 13-18) and adults that come from all over the world. The Florida Sea Base High Adventure program allows the group to live on a deserted island, with the guides, for a week at a time. While on the island, the group participates in activities such as kayaking, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, shark fishing, as well as other outdoor activities. Also during the island stay, the group takes part in a conservation project to benefit the island. (Previous projects have included planting saltwort and sea oats to prevent coastal erosion and collecting trash along the island’s beaches to protect the wildlife.) On the last night, the group returns to the base where they have a luau to celebrate. Often the mates paint themselves with charcoal, the scouts dress up in Hawaiian attire, and there is a feast of seafood.
Charles was a participant in the program as a member of Troop 117 in 2009. Charles claims that on the last day of their trip to Sea Base he decided that as soon as he got the chance, he would apply to work there. He received his Eagle Scout award in 2011; Charles says his Eagle Scout award as well as his experience in the program helped in getting him the job.
Now as a mate, his favorite thing about his job is the constant flow of new people from across the country. One week he had a crew from Oregon and the following week one from Maine. Charles enjoys getting to know the scouts and their chaperones. For those who know my brother, it is no surprise that he also loves the pleasant, relaxed work environment that Sea Base provides. The usual uniform is either a swimsuit or the staff shorts and shirt! The mates have a rotation schedule, and between each crew they have some down time. During their off time Charles and his buddies snorkel, deep-sea fish, visit smaller islands off the coast of Summerland Key, and even head to Key West (as locals), to enjoy the atmosphere of Mallory Square and splurge on the unique American-Cuban cuisine. During the fall, Charles is hoping to complete enough hours to become a certified scuba diver.
Charles has learned many things about fishing, the ocean, boating, and the Florida Keys, and he has made several friends that live all across the country. Just from speaking to him, I can tell he loves his job and I can no longer picture him doing anything else.
By Katherine Odle