Kevin Tobin is a confidence man.
“We had a young girl in the program that was incredibly afraid of heights,” he says of his Passages Adventure Camp. “During the orientation — just talking about the zip line — she fainted. Refused to even go near the rock-climbing wall. Through visualization and tiny steps we finally got her up on the cliff. She took off and everyone on Belle Isle started cheering for her. Her first words when she got to the ground: ‘I’m not afraid of heights anymore.’”
That girl may never become a world-class mountaineer or a skyscraper window washer, but that wasn’t Tobin’s goal for her. It was getting up that cliff. “The confidence you get from an experience like that is transferable to everyday life,” he says.
Stories such as these are all in a day’s work for Tobin. As director of Passages Adventure Camp, held each summer on the James River, and co-owner of Peak Experiences Indoor Rock Climbing Center, he serves almost 900 families a summer through a variety of day and overnight camps. His strengths include kayaking and primitive survival skills. And he passes those along, teaching countless children about the outdoors and adventure sports while instilling in them a sense of pride.
Constantly in motion, Tobin also gives his time to Ask Childhood Cancer Foundation, with whom he’ll join forces this month to inaugurate Reach the Peak, an event designed to raise money for the foundation.
“I honestly believe that I have the funnest job imaginable,” he says, slightly out of breath from a long run. “Some of my friends are teachers and are afraid for our country’s future due to the things they see in the classroom. I couldn’t disagree more with them. I see a lot of hope in my kids.”