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Alternative Education written 12/08 by Kenny's Mom

Alternative Education

Would you like to spend the night alone in the woods in a tent in a cold foreign country? Would you consider this “education?” For a young man, just turned eighteen, this is his education - his “college,” if you will. His declared major is independence with a minor in adventure.

Kenny Rutz walked away from his childhood home in Northern California on a journey by foot to reach Mt. Baker Washington where he hoped to find a job and snowboard the mountain. He left with forty- five pounds of backpacking gear and a guitar on his back. His great adventure took him to the local bus stop where he managed to navigate, not the back roads as he had planned, but rather the Sacramento Valley transit system which led him on an eighteen-hour bus ride to his brother’s house in Bellevue, Washington.

He stayed with his brother for several days, but was restless and bored as he waited at home while his brother attended his video game programming classes at a private conventional college. They had a great night out celebrating Thanksgiving dinner at a five star restaurant (on their mother’s credit card), then Kenny was gone the next morning leaving a simple note, “Josh, I left. Peace.” This boy was born about four decades too late.

Kenny now began his dream adventure as he hitchhiked his way to Mt. Baker. His spirits lifted on the open road only to find no snow and no jobs at Mt. Baker. It would be a minimum of two weeks before the resort might open. Undaunted he devised a new plan and found someone who would take him to the idealic destination of the North American snowboarding capital – Mt. Whistler Canada.

Kenny is now sleeping in his tent out in the woods. It is colder than he imagined and he is still seeking employment to get a work Visa (yes he did remember to bring his passport). However, the lack of snow has kept the tourist industry in a slump and so far, no jobs are to be found. For Kenny, this is all just part of the adventure.

Where this adventure takes him is uncertain. Who knows - he might change his “major” several times, as most college students do, before he finds the right fit. Like most college students, his future is an open book or, in Kenny’s case, an open road.


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