Bec Fox - Manager and Mother
Many young people (men and women alike, but definitely more women) want to know how it’s possible to have children, be a good mother or father and still remain working in the outdoor industry. The outdoor industry tends to demand long hours and a lot of time away from home, and sometimes it can be difficult maintaining a relationship, let alone a family. People usually enter the outdoor industry following a strong passion for the outdoors and what it can do for people, and it seems a shame that the industry loses these people when it becomes time to start a family.
For anyone interested in this issue, look to Bec Fox for your inspiration. Bec is the manager of Kindilan Outdoor Education and Conference Centre in Redland Bay, about an hour south of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. As well as successfully running Kindilan, Bec is the mother of two young children, Max and Mardi. She is living proof that it is absolutely possible to remain in the outdoor industry after having children, as long as you approach the task with the right attitude.
Kindilan Outdoor Education and Conference Centre is a 220 acre natural site with outdoor education programs and accommodation for up to 300 guests. Their programs are predominantly for school groups, but they also cater to community and corporate groups. The site was opened as an outdoor recreation centre, campsite and business by Guides Queensland in 1999, and Bec was employed from the start to build the business. Today the centre attracts over 12,000 clients per year and has received nominations and/or won its fair share of awards and recognition (you can see the website for details).
Bec is extremely passionate about her role as an outdoor educator, and believes this encompasses changing people’s lives and delivering quality services that promote discovery and learning. She lives her life and runs Kindilan by the Fish! Philosophy, which has four main points: ‘choose your attitude’ (be positive), ‘play’ (have fun), ‘be present’ (be reliable, focused and available for people) and ‘make someone’s day’ (put in an effort to support someone each day). This evidently works, because when I visited Kindilan in 2006 I was immediately impressed by the good feeling among the staff there, how efficiently the centre was run and the centre’s dedication to staff development by way of providing opportunities to gain qualifications and experience.
Bec has been involved in the outdoors since she was a child growing up on a Victorian property that bordered natural bushland. She grew up horse riding and bushwalking through the Victorian bush, which developed in her the passion to become an outdoor educator. After finishing high school she studied Outdoor Education at La Trobe University in Bendigo, and has been involved in the industry for over 20 years, ever since her first year at La Trobe. She has been back to university since then, this time in Queensland, competing further studies in Outdoor Education including a Masters Thesis. She loves to get far away from it all on wilderness expeditions, preferably over 5-13 days. She describes herself as an all rounder, enjoying participating in skiing, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking and climbing. Bec’s children Max and Mardi are also involved in outdoor activities - inevitable with a mother and father both passionate about the outdoors. With her kids Bec spends her outdoors time in more passive recreation such as kite flying or cycling - but that said, the kids also enjoy canoeing, kayaking and bushwalking, and are just about to start climbing with a new brand grommet harness!
Bec says that her best accomplishment is most definitely having children and still managing a very successful and growing Outdoor Education Centre. She says that she feels enormously proud to be maintaining her passion for Outdoor Education, continuing to work in the industry and still spending quality time with her husband and two small children. Bec says that she’s often asked how she manages to juggle her work and her children, and she offers some advice to other mothers (or fathers) who continue to work in the industry. She says that it’s very important to be selfish about your time - balancing quality family time with quality work time. Bec has achieved this by dropping from full time to 4 days a week, and spending one of those days working at home. Bec says that she has learnt to acknowledge what she can do at work, and shares or delegates the workload to others in the Kindilan team. She says that this has provided others at Kindilan with opportunities to grow into new responsibilities, creating a competent team of supporting managers who Bec feels absolutely comfortable with leaving to run the office if she needs to leave for periods of time.
To people who are starting out in the outdoor industry, Bec has a few words of wisdom from her position as a manager. She says that if you are passionate, genuine and clear about your goals, then follow your aspirations and they will come to fruition - if you stay focused, doors will open for you. She also strongly recommends career qualifications and looking into courses and pathways that will lead you into what you want to do. As an employer, Bec looks at personality and passion before qualification, experience and skills - but also says that qualification, experience and skills are extremely important because they determine responsibilities, pathways and salary.
Bec’s ability to leave the centre to have or look after her children, as well as the sounds of laughter that always seem to be trickling out of the management office, are a true tribute to her leadership skills and her passion for outdoor education. I hope that Bec has shown that answer to the question of whether it is possible to have children and maintain a career in the outdoor industry is absolutely, yes!
Ensure that you check out Kindilan's website (click on the name).
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