Green Light: Todd Davis

Todd Davis

Todd Davis

Todd Davis is part of the Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Department at Delta State University. He runs the OKRA Camp and is Director of Outdoor Recreation.

Davis has been a teacher at DSU for eight years and is teaching courses in both undergraduate and graduate levels. While Todd has directed the outdoor recreation program, he has been able to lead numerous trips throughout the semester which range widely from skiing, to mountain biking, kayaking and hiking.

Davis says that it is a “unique program,” and “it’s the only one in the state like this and one of a few in the country that actually does an accredited program where you get to come to class and learn these things and then you go on these adventures.” Davis’s interest in outdoor recreation began while he was in the Coast Guard.

School was not his thing. “I lacked the dedication and motivation to see the bigger picture,” he said. “I was more concerned about girls or cars or money or partying or that sort of thing. I wasn’t committed to the professionalism of what a degree can do. [And] when you fail out you have to figure out something to do because you’re 19-20.”

He ended up having to sell his house and move back home with his parents. At that point, he enlisted in the Coast Guard. He said he felt like he had to do something and wanted to join the military, but he had no desire kill people.

“I really didn’t want anything to do with the [Gulf War], but felt like I needed to be involved in some part of the military,” he said. Davis wanted to be able to save people. Davis stayed in the Coast Guard for seven years and during the time that he was enlisted, he had seven dead rescues.

“Death became a normal part of life, didn’t want to die, but became so terrified of death. It hurts your soul when you see it constantly,” he said. “You become black. You’re numb. It became more of a job to me.”

“But you don’t see them anymore, you become pissed off at them, mad at them,” Davis continued. “They are taking up your time. That’s the reality of that job; you just want to go home at 4 o’clock, to your house, but this guy went out, didn’t wear a life jacket or was fishing longer than he should have and got caught up in a storm when he knew he should have come back, but was greedy.”

“I mean there are all these things that attribute to the why, and it makes you mad, but it shouldn’t,” he added.

“But it did. And I think there’s a time when you need to get out of that job. You become so dark and so numb to life and to humanity that its time to leave. It was just time for me, I didn’t want to do that anymore. Its somebody’s dad, or somebody’s brother, or it somebody’s husband, but you just can’t see them like that otherwise it’s just horrifying, ”he said. “Accidents do happen but a lot of these accidents could have been prevented.”

The hardest one for Todd was the death of a father and son. He said that they were out fishing for lobsters [on] Christmas Eve and their boat, they got a rogue wave or something, their boat flipped.

“The boy was dead with no drysuit at all. The father was dead in a survival suit that was half zipped up and his hand frozen on the zipper plug. Those things just eat at you. Like ‘oh man, if you just had that on’ Why didn’t you have it on in the boat anyways? You know, you just get angry, ” he said.

Before Davis left the Coast Guard, he was stationed in Massachusetts. Davis would often go kayaking in his free time between school and work. He had also started a business called On Set Kayak and Canoe Company. When Todd would go to classes, his kayak would often set on top of his truck and on his tailgate was his company’s name.

One day, Todd was on his way into class and he ran into his teacher who asked about the kayak and the company. He talked to Davis about his company, how it got its start, and if Davis would meet some of the students with the outdoor club.

At the time, they did not have an outdoor recreation program. Davis started taking students out and leading workshops. The whole purpose was to have fun.

After Davis left the Coast Guard he headed back home to Idaho where he began to look for jobs. It wasn’t long before he heard of a job opening at Delta State University and within hours of applying for this job he was called and asked, “When can we fly you down?”

The smallness of the school was what drew Davis to DSU.

He said that larger schools lose their uniqueness. The low crime rate in Cleveland created a safe place for his wife and daughter, and he enjoys that he is the only one in the outdoor recreational program to lead it, but likes it most because of the uniqueness here at Delta State. He also likes being able to take a backpacking trip with your professor.

“You know the saying ‘you’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do,’ but it’s true,” Davis stated. “If you find something you really love and you’re successful it’s because you love it and want to work hard at it.”

That’s what Todd does here, he even said, “I want to be here so that your 5 o’clock or your weekend is what you live for.”

Davis hopes to have about eight trips a semester instead of four in the next seven years. It is his hope that the graduate assistants can lead more trips and that the program’s budget can grow to allow for more trips and that the program can be more inclusive. If the program budget grew, it would allow for more trips and for more students to take part in the trips as well.

Davis sees himself in the next 10 years sailing the world with his family on an extended trip of two to four years. Both Davis and his wife share their dream of sailing the world. They both agree that sailing is the purest form of travel. They will be able to harness the power of the sun, wind and water creating a free adventure.

They plan to set sail around 2020. Their daughter will be five and at the age to enter kindergarten, but they plan on homeschooling on the boat. Thousands of people live on sailboats and travel for extended lengths of time with their children. They look forward to teaching their child in the places that things happened.


Editor’s Note: A quote was removed due to explicit content.