- Teddy Beahm, 33, is a naturalist and recreation director at the Weekapaug Inn in Rhode Island.
- He doesn’t think you need formal science training or hospitality experience for his role.
- This is what his work looks like and how it got there, as the writer Perri Ormont Blumberg recounted.
This essay is based on a conversation with Theodore “Teddy” H. Beahm III, a 33-year-old naturalist and recreation manager for a luxury hotel in Westerly, Rhode Island. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My current role is the culmination of my whole life: I grew up playing and exploring outdoors whatever the season, I was naturally curious and I was always looking for information – these are all qualities of a naturalist. My responsibilities include the creation and execution of all activities of the Relais & ChÃ¢teaux Weekapaug Inn.
I am licensed as a captain, a certified lifeguard and a member of the United States Lifesaving Association, and have completed advanced first aid training. I enrolled in the Oceanography program at Community College of Rhode Island and landed an internship in South Africa, where I studied sharks and learned how to tag them safely. I eventually got an associate’s degree in business administration and management.
I began my career in the United States Marine Corps, where I was deployed overseas from 2006 to 2010. After serving, I returned home for a short time, where I worked. for the town of Newport as a lifeguard captain. From there I moved to California and ran a boat rental business while working as a scout in Hollywood. After spending time in California my wife and I took a leap of faith and moved to Maui, Hawaii with no jobs or friends or family there.
In Maui, I worked as a managing captain for luxury boats with Blue Water Rafting. Then I worked in golf operations at Makena, a 1,700 acre private club. From October 2019 to September 2020, I worked in security at the Grand Wailea complex.
My son was born in February 2020 – a month before the pandemic hit Maui
Although I was fortunate enough to keep a job, my wife and I found raising a child 5,000 miles from my home during a pandemic was incredibly difficult. We decided to return to Rhode Island in August 2020, after the Ocean House Collection called my wife about a job opportunity. During the interview, they asked me what I do for a living and they offered me the role of in-house naturalist and recreation director.
In a way, the pandemic is the reason I landed this role. Without the pandemic, my family and I may never have left Maui.
Many call me the “director of entertainment,” a title I’m proud to assume.
My day usually begins with a morning stroll on the beach with guests, where I tell them about the ice formation of Rhode Island. We will then pass the foundations of the original inn which was built on the barrier beach in 1899, and at the end of the walk the sun is high in the sky and guests will take kayaks, paddleboards and boards. sailboats to explore the pond. After the morning walk and paddle, I invite guests to stop by the boathouse for a craft-making experience.
In summer, we can collect seashells on the beach to paint them or turn them into jewelry. In the fall, we offer leaf printing and pine cone art, and in the winter, we offer a variety of holiday-themed workshops. I usually end my day by taking guests on a sunset jeep safari along the beaches of Westerly. As an alternative, I’ll be taking guests on a sunset cocktail cruise aboard the Quonnie Queen, our all-electric boat.
A big part of the experience is getting close to the inn’s natural surroundings. We have a five kilometer long tidal lagoon right behind the hotel which offers plenty of exploration trails. Wanting to take advantage of the surroundings to provide more intimate experiences for guests, we offer private beach picnics during the warmer months, which include a boat ride to a secluded beach.
The most special part of my job is being able to share the region I grew up in with guests
Now that I have been at the Weekapaug Inn for several seasons, I am starting to see returning clients whose families I know and love. It’s great to see them experience the magic of the hotel all year round.
I had a couple in their early 60s who had two sons in the military who threw a sunset picnic last summer. Of course, we bonded over this.
The couple were enjoying their experience so much that they asked me to put everything away on the beach and come back in an hour to bring them back to the hotel. When I came back to get them, it was quite dark. I ended up sitting with them for an extra hour. They shared details of their recent travels, visiting 19 countries in the past two years. The wife turned out to be a professional photographer who captured some of the most stunning images of the pond and the property that night. We keep in touch to this day.
Often, children check in with their smartphones or iPads glued to their hands. On day two, they (usually) leave their devices in the room and go for an interactive experience in nature – this transformation is powerful and one of the main reasons this job means the world to me.
Most activities at the property are available at no additional cost. Rates per night for basic rooms start at $ 505 and deluxe suites start at $ 1,965.
Any activity can be booked as a private experience for an additional cost. In the low season, I offer a private 90-minute naturalist excursion fully tailored to the specific interests of clients.
For example, for a family with a 3 year old and 10 year old, I will talk to their parents to find out about each child’s specific interests (maybe one child is obsessed with history and the other wants to learn more about lighthouses). I will take the Jeep and drive them on the sand trail for a historic tour with a personalized bento box style lunch, followed by a tour of the destination’s historic lighthouses.
The craziest request I have ever received, which ultimately never came to fruition, was when a guest requested that I take their family on a private tour of Yellowstone National Park, from Weekapaug Inn. They wanted me to organize this experience within 24 hours, plane and everything.
The best advice I can offer to people looking to break into this area would be to drop the smartphone and get out
There are so many local conservation groups focused on several important initiatives – do your research and get involved.
For example, I am a member of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. I regularly help clean the roads, ponds and beaches all around Weekapaug. My in-laws are members of the Audubon Society of Massachusetts, and I often join them on turtle rescues. I’m also a member of the Salt Pond Coalition, which manages all of the salt ponds in Southwest Rhode Island.
You have to want to know everything about a territory and its history. You have to be willing to go out and get dirty. There is no need to major in a nature-based science in college and / or gain hospitality experience. The biggest prerequisite is to devote time to learning. My wife often jokes that I got to where I am today by dedicating my entire life to the natural world.
Do you have an interesting job and want to share your story with Insider? Email Lauryn Haas at [email protected]