SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – As school districts across the nation deal with a shortage of bus drivers, a Colorado student is getting high marks for his creative way of getting to class.
The boy’s dad, Jason Smith, said the shortage prompted his son Josh, 12, to come up with a backup plan in case Josh was unable to get a seat on the bus when the school year started in Summit County.
“One night he said, ‘Hey, instead of waiting on the bus, why don’t I just kayak to school?'” said Smith.
The Smiths live in Silverthorne, about a five-mile drive from Summit Middle School, where Josh attends. But the shortest route, as the crow flies, is directly across Dillon Reservoir.
“The easy answer would have been, ‘No, let me just drive you to school. If you can’t get on the bus, we’ll drive you to school, no problem,'” said Smith. “But I have a 12-year-old who wants to be adventurous, wants to do something none of his buddies would do, and how can I say no to that?”
So on a cool September morning, they loaded the kayak into the family car and drove the short distance down to the reservoir.
Josh set off and made it across the entire lake to school — a distance of about three miles — arriving almost on time after he stopped to explore an island on the way.
“I was late to one of my classes, and everyone was like, ‘Josh, where were you? We were worried.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I was kayaking to school,'” he said with a smile.
“Instead of taking a shortcut, I took a long cut,” Josh joked.
Josh’s dad said he kept an eye on Josh from overlooks around the lake. But Josh said he was only a little bit nervous, and mostly excited for the adventure.
“I was nervous when I started to go out a little more, and I realized how vast it was, and how far away I was from land,” he said. “When I got there, I felt like I was accomplished, but I also knew I was a little bit late to school, so I think I could have made a little bit better time.”
Now the 12-year-old Boy Scout — who hopes to reach Eagle Scout and potentially enroll in the Air Force Academy someday — is planning to try and ski to school across the lake once it freezes.