Campgrounds & National Parks offer awesome roadschooling opportunities for younger kids, but the best learning opportunities for teens are outside of campgrounds.
Campgrounds Are Awesome for Roadschooling Younger Kids
Live where people vacation? Sounds pretty cool!
Campgrounds - especially state and national parks - often have programs and activities designed to appeal to vacationing families.
Your kids might:
- Dissect owl pellets
- Take a ranger-led walk to learn what’s edible in the woods
- Excavate dinosaur bones
- Hold a snake
- Attend a stargazing party
As a suburbia-ditcher you can string these together for a pretty good roadschooling education for younger kids.
But what about teens?
Campgrounds Aren’t Awesome for Roadschooling Teens
Miranda did a few Junior Ranger programs our first year out when she was 13 but after that declared herself too old for the program.
The longer we’ve traveled the less attractive park programs have been for our aging teens.
Time to Un-Ditch?
We’ve known some families who’ve gotten off the road at this point, returning to a more ‘normal’ life where their teens could find more age-appropriate activities.
We weren’t ready to do that. We assumed the flexibily of the RV lifestyle would allow us to find roadschooling experiences even for our teens.
Suburban Sheep Shirt
If you have the same slightly sarcastic sense of humor as we do this may be the shirt for you. This design is both a commentary on suburban living and a declaration of your intent to leave it.
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Colors available: black, royal blue, navy blue.
We just had to look past campground programs.
Commute to Learn
This past summer we purchased a seasonal spot in Fremont, Michigan.
We did this mainly for our teens. One wanted a summer job, one wanted a summer internship, and they both wanted to attend a summer camp.
Fremont has a city-owned campground that is in town and close to everything. The campground itself didn’t offer much for our teens - but they could ride their bikes to just about everything else.
We’ve seen other families find art classes or conferences their teens are interested in and just plant themselves in the closest RV park they could find.
That works, but campgrounds have other challenges:
- They can be expensive
- They lack diversity
- They can be hard to get into during the camping season
We’ve found long-term experiences where we could both park the RV and our teens:
- Learned horsemanship
- Learned to drive tractors
- Worked in the skilled trades
- Prepped and managed gardens
- Learned to feed and care for alpacas, llamas, goats, sheep, miniature donkeys and more
- Learned to clean and prep AirBnB rentals
Other opportunities we found but didn’t do:
- Working on a beef cattle farm
- Working on an organic dairy farm
- Finishing an AirBnB rental, doing the marketing, and sharing in the profits
- Working at a summer camp as staff
How to Find Great Onsite Roadschooling Experiences for Teens
We’ve primarily used two sources to find these opportunities:
WWOOF stands for “WorldWide Opportunities On Organic Farms”.
The WWOOF-USA website serves as a sort of dating service - matching farms in need of help with people who want to learn more about farming and homesteading.
WWOOFing is geared towards people without children but I was able to line up our first ranching experience in Texas two years ago by posting an ad there.
I detailed who we were, what skills we had, and what size our RV was. We heard back from three different places who thought they could accomodate us. We talked with each on the phone and chose the one that sounded like the best fit.
WWOOF USA is a membership site and costs $40/year join.
Workers on Wheels
The other source we’ve used is Workers on Wheels.
I use this by:
- Reading Help Wanted Ads
I get the newsletter each week and scan the ads for non-campground situations (like retreat centers, summer camps, animal shelters, fish hatcheries, etc). If I see an ad that looks interesting I record the location, description and contact information on a private Google Map that we look at when route planning. If we head that way I contact them to see if they might have a current need.
- Posting Work Wanted Ads
I’ll periodically post ads that describe us, our goals, and our requirements. I make it clear that we are not a retired couple, we have kids with us and I have a job that requires internet access. We’ve gotten a number of leads this way.
Our current host - an animal rescue facility in Texas - posted a help wanted ad over a year ago. I saw them on my planning map, contacted them and they had a spot open.
Workers on Wheels is a free service.