A brief history of the Supertramp award
Not all those who wander are lost.
In April 1992, 24-year-old Chris McCandless ditched his car, burnt the money in his wallet, donated his savings to charity, hitched a lift to the outskirts of the Alaskan outback and, armed with little more than a hunting rifle and a sack of rice, walked into the wild. He renamed himself Alexander Supertramp and deliberately lost contact with everyone he had ever known. He wanted nothing more to do with what he saw as a sick, sad world and sought only to survive as his (flawed) heroes had done: on their wits and survival instincts alone. He did not even carry a map in his rucksack. He was a disillusioned idealist, a passionate, zealous young man who yearned for adventure without the encumbrances of modern living or the inevitable complications that come from human interaction. His emaciated, lifeless body was discovered 100 days later, having starved to death through a series of unfortunate events.
Opinions about this story (chronicled by Jon Krakauer in his extraordinary book, Into the Wild) are diametrically opposed. Some think Alexander Supertramp was an arrogant, selfish, rich kid. Others think he is someone to whom hymns should be sung and statues erected and that his story is not about his death, but about his life. That he made the bravest of all decisions: not to be a victim, at least not to civilisation's mechanical march. That he subscribed to the philosophy that to live is to do and to do is to do now. "Most men" said Henry Thoreau – one of his champions – "lead lives of quiet desperation".
The Supertramp Award has been administered since 2005 by the Magaliesberg Section of the MCSA for those young, impecunious wanderers whose cynicism is still directed outwards, in the hope that they will purchase at least a map, and as a tribute by the donor to the voyager who was Alexander Supertramp who wisely gathered his rosebuds whilst he could.