What Parents Say

“My son was a member of the SJ 2013 HS program. He loved it! David and his crew made it both academic and adventurous. He expanded his friend group, his love of the outdoors, and his mind. The trip challenged him both mentally and physically and he discovered an inner strength that he did not know existed. My son tells everyone: “David is amazing.”  He has an intuitive gift to reach out, listen, identify with and make teenagers from all backgrounds feel special.  It is simply that: amazing. The SJ crew has forever left its print on my son’s mind, heart, and soul and I know he will reflect back on this trip as a pivotal experience of his teenage life.”  -Patrice Lankfer, Catholic Central

“David is not only well-liked but extremely respected by the participants, and families, in his programs.  He is a patient and accepting leader who cultivates self-confidence and responsibility within his students.  David is a wonderful listener and kids feel safe to be themselves when they are with him.  He is generous with his time and always makes himself available if needed.  Recently, I overheard a conversation between my daughter and David regarding an uncomfortable peer situation at school.  He praised her for her actions and encouraged her to be confident and proud of the decision she had made.  She walked away feeling strong and I walked away grateful to have such a positive adult role model in my daughters life. David’s strong values are another gift he brings to the kids he mentors and are woven into his programs.  Kindness and acceptance are expectations, not options.  Students are encouraged to be friendly and thoughtful to others. David’s ability to positively influence teens at such a crucial time in their life is irreplaceable.   I have and will continue to highly recommend his programs.  Personally, I can’t wait for my younger daughters to experience the magic of David Buth and to travel with him in the future.” -Jennifer Sayers, Forest Hills Northern

“Our daughter has a strong passion for adventure, “hands on” learning and a deep connection to the outdoors.  All of these passions have been enhanced and strengthened while participating in several programs through Summer Journeys.   Her growth and development over this past year has been incredible as she has learned the benefits of working as a team, trusting others, appreciating differences in others, building deep bonds with others, and exploring a world outside of her own community.   Thank you to the amazing leadership at Summer Journeys for providing such amazing opportunities for adventure and learning throughout several seasons, not just summer!”  -Patty Woodhouse, East Grand Rapids

“We both share the belief that engaging young people in nature is important.  In all that he does, he continually guides them to be more self reflective and more connected to themselves, their families and their communities.   I could go on about his accomplishments and what he has meant to our family but when I think of the quote by Ghandi, “Be the agent of change you want to see in the world,” I think of David.  I will continue to support his work because of who he is; a tireless worker, a mentor, a friend, and a role model to all he meets.”  -Ingrid Nelson, Grand Rapids Christian

“I have a child who is by nature introverted.  She does not crave or ask for attention.  She often goes unnoticed in a classroom, with some teachers even saying she isn’t reaching the highest rung on the ladder in her engagement in the classroom.  It is because Mr. Buth has the ability to place himself second, and the skills and interests of the child first, that my daughter’s introversion was finally recognized as thoughtfulness.  When she didn’t speak, he would ask or encourage her, and her thoughts, ideas, and gifts bubbled out.  Mr. Buth’s skill at relating to all types of kids (and adults) is his unique gift.  He can be fun and crazy, as evidenced by some of the goofy pictures they took along the way. He can be quiet and reflective, forcing others to think a little more deeply about the subject at hand.  His simple presence at an event is encouraging to those who know him.“ -Jenny Fanning, Forest Hills Northern

“I recommended the Teton trip to another parent whose son had a tremendous experience this summer. I will continue to support Dave’s efforts whenever possible because of his ability to focus on the unique personality of the individuals he mentors; his profound interest in all things outdoors; and his commitment to teaching others how to appreciate and preserve the world in which they live.” -John Irwin, Forest Hills Central

“My son has matured so much this past summer, as a direct result of being part of Summer Journeys, Rabbit Island and other related conservation projects.  He is stronger, more focused, calmer, more helpful.  He is more confident and sure of himself, and has set new goals for his future.  I love telling friends and acquaintances about Summer Journeys and David Buth’s enthusiasm, and I highly recommend getting their teens involved in any of these related programs.” -Kathie Hoffman, City High/Rockford

“We enjoy being good ambassadors of David and his programs. My daughters are sharing tales of adventure with friends leaving me to respond to calls from parents of interested students. The hurdle for parents is “how can I send my child off for 2-3 weeks with relative strangers and limited phone access?” Again, the preparation David has built in to the travel programs helps to eliminate this anxiety – a parent has time to become aware, and therefore confident, that David and the chaperones are responsible, trained, and ultimately have the students’ best interest at heart. All four of the students we referred enjoyed their Summer Journeys experience and their parents marveled at the opportunities presented and changes in their children upon their return.” -Martha Slubowski, Forest Hills Northern

“For me, there are two aspects of David that make him exceptional.  The first is his passion for the environment.  David has a very deep and broad knowledge of many environmental topics, and has a real passion for sharing that knowledge and interest with others. The second is his very sincere desire to help kids realize their full potential, and his ability to help them do so.  David has a fantastic way with the kids.  Not only does he understand how to relate to them at their level, he engages them in a way that builds their knowledge and self-confidence.  He stretches them in ways that they and their parents don’t always realize they are capable of. My son said it simply and perfectly, “He doesn’t bubble wrap you”.  Even my 12 year old son understands what makes David so special; he helps kids accomplish things other adults don’t even let them try.  David is an extremely responsible, knowledgeable, and caring educator and person.  He and his programs come with my highest recommendation.” -Jackie Nickel, Forest Hills Central

“My son went on David’s Summer Journeys middle school trip to the Grand Tetons for 17 days.  My daughter spent a week with other Spanish immersion 5th graders exploring Grand Rapids with David as well this past summer.  They both loved these camp experiences and can’t wait to do it again in the future.  They were never homesick or scared.  David is so passionate about education and the outdoors that his enthusiasm just transfers over to the kids.“  -Jeanne Eyde, Forest Hills Northern

“I have appreciated David’s work very much.  He has opened up views and options for people that they may not have had the opportunity to otherwise experience.  The big trip for Summer Journeys was something that was thoroughly enjoyed.  One of my son’s friend’s parents expressed to me how my son returned so happy, excited and loved to talk about his trip out west.  She thinks that is amazing how this quiet kid is now going on and on about his great experience.  I have and will continue to recommend the programs and any opportunity to work with David.  He is a blessing and touches everyone and everything that is part of his life.  He makes a difference.”  -Sara Brander, East Grand Rapids

“My impression of David and his work with his kids is nothing but positive.   He is one of the best educators that I have interacted with. Not only in his ability to convey an educational message to his students, but his ability to really communicate with the kids.  When he speaks he has his kid’s total attention.  A big part of David’s skill set is his listening skills.  When you speak to David, you feel like he values what you have to say.  I think that this is an important component in his teaching.  I would say that David is the type of educator that you want teaching your child.  Aside from his exceptional communication skills, he is a natural leader, as well as a positive role model for kids.”  -John Bagley, Michigan Nature Association