Some may wonder, under the circumstances, why the family requested that a scholarship be awarded each year in Dave’s name from the survival school where Dave lost his life. Why on earth would we encourage others to take that risk?
Dave was very adamant about the importance of learning wilderness skills and to learn them “hands on.” Despite our concerns, he said it was something he “just HAD to do.” He had asked at the time if there were any scholarships or assistance available since it was so expensive, but was told there were none. It was important enough to him to pay over $3,000 to attend.
After Dave’s death and the many subsequent safety changes incorporated in the course, we hoped a scholarship would provide the opportunity for someone else to “safely” learn wilderness skills; someone perhaps who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend now could use that knowledge to keep others safe as well—pay it forward so to speak.
We met the first scholarship recipient, Ben T, as he returned from his 30-day course. A soft-spoken, kind, intelligent young man who took the time to write a note to the family while he was on the course. He has given me permission to print his message:
Dear Buschow Family,
I never knew David, but I can imagine his soul here in the desert. Somehow our lives met in that interconnected spiral that brings people together.
The wilderness is a green fire that I have carried with me since birth. When I work in the mountains or the rivers or play as a student in these desert canyons, I can feel their dark embers burn brighter near their source. It is here that I come to regenerate.
The desert seems to hold her secrets closely. Really, however, I’ve found that upon more carefully turning over the prickly pear or yucca, that their secrets are in fact questions–the two easily confused in our daily lives. And the question simply asks, “Why? Not “why” to itself, but rather why to the seeker. So, the answer, I find can only be found within ourselves.
I come to the wild, therefore, to discover myself, to realize the teacher within, and to renew my hope for a swiftly confusing planet.
To be found is divine. To find oneself is bliss. And every time I step past the thin green line separating the wilderness from our comfortble city confines, I discover another piece about myself–sometimes beautiful, sometimes ghastly. But it is the search, after all, that matters in the end.
I want to thank you for providing me yet another opportunity for this wonderful discovery. Usually as an outdoor educator, I’m the one teaching others. How wonderful to be able solely to focus on teaching myself for 28 days.
My hope in truth, however, is that you can find an answer in giving. I imagine that your son’s life is what is to be remembered rather than his death. The desert can take, but it can also heal. What you’ve done for me is to extend the life of your son to another and eventually another and another. What a gift, then, that both you and David have given.
I was going to craft you a token from the desert. But as I worked on it, it felt shallow in my palm. So, instead I decided to forge a thank-you from pen and paper.
May your mind have clear thinking, may your lips have clean speaking, and may your heart have clear intentions.
Peace be with you.
Thank you, Ben.
We are sure Ben will pay it forward!