A fourteen-year-old boy who drowned kayaking in a Utah river last week was an outdoor enthusiast who had written a book about his unorthodox homeschooling and how he had become a child entrepreneur.
Kevin Cooper, 14, died after falling out of a kayak in the Newcastle Reservoir near Beryl, Utah, last Saturday.
He was on the water with his autistic older brother. It’s unclear exactly how he fell out of the kayak. Cooper’s family told local media that he couldn’t swim.
In his 14 short years, he wrote a book under the pseudonym Cole Summers, and amassed thousands of fans on social media with his love of the outdoors and extraordinarily enterprising young mind.
Last month, in a Twitter video promoting his autobiography, Cooper revealed how he started his first business at age seven and by 10 owned and operated a 350-acre ranch. The teen was reportedly the sole keeper of the land where he lived with his disabled parents and brother.
Kevin Cooper, 14, died after falling out of a kayak in the Newcastle Reservoir near Beryl, Utah, last Saturday. For the last 12 years, he had been working on his family’s farm
Kevin also went by the name of Cole Summers, a name he used to write under. He wrote about ‘unschooling’ – choosing what he learned and spending most of his time outside rather than studying a traditional curriculum
Cole at the age of eight. His family say he owned property by then and was running their family business
Cooper’s story was so astonishing and arguably unbelievable that two months ago he posted a video to Twitter video insisting he was real and was everything he claimed to be online.
Cole wrote a book about ‘unschooling’ which is now for sale on Amazon
‘Not everybody thinks I am me, so here I am! I really am a 14-year-old homeschooler, ‘he said in the video. ‘I’ve been studying business since I was six. I started my first business when I was seven.
‘I really do spend all my time trying to work toward changing the business model of desert farming to quickly stop aquifer depletion while keeping thousands of acres from being turned into dust bowl farmlands.’
‘I really am me. I’m out here, ‘he concluded. ‘I am who I say I am.’
Among those who came across the teen was journalist Bari Weiss, who contacted him to write a piece for her newsletter Common Sense, before he died.
Cooper’s piece was published on her Substack on Tuesday.
In the article, the teen described how he started homeschooling because both of his parents were disabled and ‘them being homebound enabled us to try it.’
Cooper alleged his parents allowed him to pick the path he took with his education, so long as he learned how to read and write.
He said this freedom allowed him to participate in a movement called unschooling which, according to Cooper, always students to choose ‘what to learn, when to learn it, and at what pace.’
‘I’m part of a side movement within the homeschool movement called unschooling,’ he penned. ‘I have been since I was six.’
Cole Summers operating a tractor on his family’s farm in Beryl, Utah
Cole said in one recent article for Bari Weiss’s Common Sense platform that he felt sad for other kids his age who suffer anxiety and have to follow traditional lessons at school
‘Unschooling is simple: the kid chooses what to learn, when to learn it, and at what pace.
‘For some kids like me, it provides a level of freedom that many adults don’t even enjoy. When I took control of my education, my parents only had one rule.
‘I had to do at least some of my learning by reading. Everything else was up to me, ‘he wrote.
Cole said in his education, there was no such thing as a typical day. He said his parents, who are both disabled, allowed him to decide what to do every day
Cole self-published one book that is still for sale on Amazon. It is titled ‘Don’t Tell Me I Can’t: An Ambitious Homeschooler’s Journey.’
Now, the teenager’s grieving family are asking for donations to pay for his funeral and to keep the farm running in his absence.
‘The family now must deal with a loss of VA disability dependent income, picking up some of the bills for Kevin’s businesses, legal and accounting fees for shutting down the business, all while also facing typical end of life expenses and helping their surviving son through this tragedy.
‘The Cooper family must now rebuild their lives, focused on providing for their surviving son a future that Kevin will no longer be able to give him.
‘All donations will help the Cooper family put their young son to rest and provide for the needs of their devastated other son,’ neighbor Stefanie Whitelaw said in a description on the GoFundMe.
She organized it on behalf of the boy’s family, she said.
Cooper’s father is wheelchair bound after suffering an injury while serving in the armed forces, according to a neighbor, and his mother is blind.
Kevin started running the family’s farm at the age of six.
His story was so unbelievable, he recently made a Twitter video to insist he was real and was everything he claimed to be online.