“Play.” The dictionary defines playing as “to exercise or employ oneself in diversion, amusement, or recreation.” We don’t usually associate playing with doing good works. But, according to Outward Bound alum Trey Upsey, maybe we should.
An Outward Bound Pinnacle Scholar, Trey returned from braving the seas on a Maine Coast Sailing trip last summer with renewed energy and motivation to give back to his community. And the way he gave back? Through play.
Yes – play. This Philadelphia teenager loves to play – but he doesn’t just play video games on the couch. Rather, he prefers the ultimate game of strategy, intellect, and wit. He plays chess. He enjoys chess so much, in fact, that he began his own chess club at his old elementary school, Greene Street Friends School in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
Besides developing a curriculum and meeting twice a week to instruct students on the art of chess, Trey also raised money to buy teaching materials for his club. By selling some of his own belongings at a church flea market, Trey earned enough to purchase ten chess boards, a booklet of basic chess terminology, and a chess display board (a demonstration board that hangs on the wall with slots for moving chess pieces).
Trey says that his experience with the chess club has shown him how tough it can be to teach, but also how rewarding it can be. Many of Trey’s students have shown genuine interest in chess, and he hopes to eventually provide a graduation ceremony of sorts for those who attended his sessions.
Reflecting on how the Outward Bound sailing course influenced his project, Trey says that the OB experience showed him how to be a leader and also instilled in him the importance of planning ahead – a skill that certainly came in handy as he made lesson plans and purchased materials.
And the best part of Trey’s project? Not only is Trey doing good works in his community by planting the seeds of strategic thinking in a fresh new crop of fertile young minds, but he is also reminding us all, in the simplest terms possible, of the importance of play.