Our Experience at the 2017 RVE Summit

Stretch Armstrong! He bends! He stretches! He even ties in knots!

If you’re “of a certain age” you’ll remember Stretch Armstrong - a superhero action figure that could nab the bad guys by stretching his body out to ridiculous lengths.

We were the embodiment of Stretch Armstrong while attending the 2017 RVE Summit. Well, except for one aspect, which I’ll mention last.

Pulling From One End: The RVE Summit

The closest I can come to describing this event is to mix together:

  • The creative business energy of a Startup Weekend
  • The professional camaraderie of some of the early ExpressionEngine conferences
  • The thought provoking power of a TedX Event
  • Some of our favorite times camping with fellow RVers
  • That summer camp experience as a kid where you stayed up late every night talking and laughing with new friends

The word “awesome” is over-used and meaningless anymore.

So I’m using splendiferous.

Hosts Heath and Alyssa Padgett did a splendiferous job from choosing the venue, to finding the speakers, to putting the daily schedule together, to staying engaged with attendees throughout the event.

Other Posts

There’s just too much to say about the RVE Summit. Some others have done a better job than I can:

Pulling from the Other End: Our Truck

In New Orleans we heard a new engine sound in our truck. We would have dealt with it there, but it was Mardi Gras weekend and we didn’t have reservations.

We also didn’t want to miss the presenting at the RVE Summit.

It became a conundrum: “shouldn’t go, can’t stay” .

We chose to go. We cancelled a stop we had planned for in between New Orleans and the RVE Summit. We arrived early and got some client work done. I brought the truck into a local shop for evaluation.

Hoping for a $1400 repair, we got an estimate of $4K. I’ve love this truck. But it’s 15 years old with 197K on the odometer. We could fix the motor, but what other repairs are waiting? 

Instead, we chose to let the crisis fuel change. We opted for a temporary repair on the truck, put a for sale sign on the fifth wheel, and started shopping for a camper van.

In the Middle? Our Presentation

We should have had our presentation done earlier. We rolled into Texas with just an outline. And we realized that during 26 years of marriage, raising two kids, and running a couple of businesses, MsBoyink and I had never actually presented together.

Truck stress. Life change stress. Now presentation stress.

We got it together and ran through it a few times. We wanted to be smooth and natural. It didn’t feel that way at all. We had some technical stumbles. I still got nervous. I forgot some points. I didn’t look out at the crowd as much as I wanted.

Going back to watch the video recording, I think we did OK all things considered. The crowd helped - you all were encouraging and quick to laugh.

Here’s the video of our presentation. We start at 1:09:20, but Jill Sessa’s presentation before ours is worth viewing as well.

Here’s a page with links to the experiences we mentioned in the presentation.


We thought we were going to the RVE Summit to give. We’d impart our experiences of over 6 years on the road to help people who were either new to the lifestyle, or considering it.

For whatever little bit of wisdom we were able to give, our main experience at the Summit was getting.

We got hugs.

We got lifted up with encouraging words.

We got thanked for our work on DitchingSuburbia.com.

We got blessed materially. From the simple to the crazy-generous-can’t-even-type-this-without-tearing-up.

We got offers of free full-hookup RV parking.

And we got offers of work.

No Words

I’m a writer. I love words. But sometimes they fail me.

This is one of those times.

Thank you just doesn’t cover it. It’s not enough. You say thank you when someone refills your coffee.

But I can’t find anything else to say.

So thank you.

Not Stretch Armstrong

So, the thing about Stretch Armstrong that I didn’t mention above?

When you let go of his arms and legs, Stretch Armstrong returned to his original shape.

We didn’t return to our original shape.

We come out of the RVE Summit different. Changed.

We changed:

  • How we want to travel
  • Who we see as our tribe
  • Our ability to be humbled at the generosity of others
  • Our goals for our finances - we want to get to a point where we are as generous with others as you all have been to us

Be Ready

If you sign up for a future RVE Summit, our only advice is “be ready for what you might be getting yourselves into”.

You might come away as changed as we have.

17 Comments β†’ Our Experience at the 2017 RVE Summit

  1. Picture of Sarah Latzel Sarah Latzel March 03, 2017

    Michael and I are truly blessed to have met you both. We weren’t lying when we said you and your family are the reason we are changing our lifestyle. Never go back to suburbia or we’ll be lost! Your guidance is what keeps us going. Best of luck. Our sticks and bricks are always open…until it’s sold in January!

  2. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink March 03, 2017

    Thanks Sarah! We loved meeting you guys too. So excited to see you get on the road!

    We’re so anxious to be in something smaller so we can “moochdock” more..;)

  3. Picture of Lindsay McKenzie Lindsay McKenzie March 04, 2017

    You’re amazing at analogies. We just SO loved how genuine the two of you are. What an incredible story you have and what a “splendiferous” life and education you’ve provided for your children! We really hope to keep in touch.

  4. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink March 04, 2017

    Thanks Lindsay - we appreciate your kindness and enjoyed getting to know you guys too.

    Hoping we can connect you with our friends in Colorado Springs soon - they’ll be a great resource for you!

  5. Picture of Eric Highland Eric Highland March 04, 2017

    It was so nice to finally meet you both! Thank you for sharing your story, for your transparency, and for your hearts. Wish we could have spent more time together, but someday that will happen. It is the nature of our travels. Our hearts are with you and your sweet family. ~ Eric, Brittany, and Caspian aka RV Wanderlust

  6. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink March 04, 2017

    Eric - I have no words.

    Other than…you can bet there are more hugs, a shared campfire and wine in our shared future.

    It’s still not enough…but again, our thanks to you and your family for humbling us with your generosity.

  7. Picture of Heath Padgett Heath Padgett March 04, 2017

    Beautiful Mike.

    So glad for you guys to have been such a big part of this even and take the time to spend with all of us (also, thank you for the apple sauce!).

    Excited to spend more time with you guys down the road,


  8. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink March 04, 2017

    Thanks Heath!

    We’re really looking forward to being more nimble and flexible with a smaller rig - able to buzz about to where ever good friends are.

  9. Picture of Camille Attell Camille Attell March 07, 2017

    You and Crissa were very relatable in your presentation. To me that’s more important that having the most flash and sizzle. We’re excited to follow your story and see where the Class B journey takes you. FYI your blog post is Splendiferous!

  10. Picture of Brandon Pemberton Brandon Pemberton March 09, 2017

    Love the transparency !!

    β€œThe mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

  11. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink March 09, 2017

    “Stretch Emerson” :)

    Thanks Brandon!

  12. Picture of Andrea M Elkins Andrea M Elkins March 09, 2017

    Longtime subscriber, love your writing style and watching the kids spread their wings. Ya done good, Mom & Dad!

    Enjoyed your presentation at the RVEsummit and wish you the best with your continuing adventures.

  13. Picture of Heather Ledeboer Heather Ledeboer March 09, 2017

    I guess I am not quite old enough to have first had experience with Stretch Armstrong. BUT I do know of him from a favorite movie of ours: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty :). Have you seen it?

    Your post makes me want to goto the next RVE Summit. I just signed up to get email updates for future plans.

  14. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink March 10, 2017

    Ah - yea! We have seen that and forgot Stretch had a cameo!

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