Ditch Campgrounds for Better Teen Roadschooling

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.

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And we were right.

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.

Onsite Experiences

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
Homeschooling while traveling in the USA -  do you follow the laws of the state you are in or the laws of your home state? We contacted all 50 states and compiled their answers into an eBook.

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.

Miranda has done more work with and riding of horses than we ever could have afforded in the suburbs.

Miranda has done more work with and riding of horses than we ever could have afforded in the suburbs.

Staying put for a season allowed Harrison to become a Little League umpire

Staying put for a season allowed Harrison to become a Little League umpire

Harrison spent his summer biking to a Subway job

Harrison spent his summer biking to a Subway job

Miranda biked 2 1/2 miles each way to an Internship at a Rescue Shelter

Miranda biked 2 1/2 miles each way to an Internship at a Rescue Shelter

Miranda feeding animals during our onsite-stay at an animal rescue ranch

Miranda feeding animals during our onsite-stay at an animal rescue ranch

Miranda feeding Alpacas and Llamas at an animal rescue ranch

Miranda feeding Alpacas and Llamas at an animal rescue ranch

Miranda feeding Nicholas at an animal rescue ranch.

Miranda feeding Nicholas at an animal rescue ranch.

Other Benefits

These types of onsite experiences can have additional benefits past being great roadschooling and working experiences for your teens.

  • You Can Save Money
    You can avoid paying for a campsite, laundry, and wifi. Just be sure to work out expectations in advance with your host. You may have to do some additional chores to earn your keep.
  • You May Make Money
    Hosts and neighbors at onsite experiences like this are often entreprenuers. You may find ways to not only earn your RV site but extra money besides. Cleaning rentals, providing extra farm labor, event staffing etc are all possible.
  • You Can Build Relationships
    People in campgrounds are always coming and going and aren’t always easy to get to know. Stay on a farm or ranch for a couple of months and you’ll get to know your hosts plus meet their family and friends.
  • Hosts Are in the Working World
    Campgrounds are often full of retired folks and while they can be great, there is something different about being around working people still engaged in turning a dollar and pursuing passions.
  • You Can Experiment With Lifestyles
    If you are curious about what it takes to own a farm, ranch, animal rescue ranch, etc you can jump in and experience it without the investment. We thought homesteading sounded attractive but after our Texas ranch experience know it’s more work than we want.

Tell On Your Teens

If you ditched the suburbs with teens - how’s that going? What have you done to find them out of the ordinary roadschooling experiences?

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2 Comments Ditch Campgrounds for Better Teen Roadschooling

  1. Picture of Karen Schindel JohnsonKaren Schindel JohnsonDecember 17, 2015

    We’ve been in Mexico most of the time since 2012 with our youngest 7 kids, but summer 2014 we headed back to BC (from whence we came) and the family volunteered on a Hobby Farm for 4 months where we stayed for free.  Everybody had something that was suited for their age/maturity level, from taking care of freshly hatched chicks, cleaning cages, managing pony rides to running cash register, learning energy work & rehabilitation of horses, sandblasting, welding, and driving quads and tractors.  BEST Summer EVER!!  Now in Mexico we are learning some of the skills required to manage a small hotel.  Teen son knows all about the well/solar/heating systems for the complex, and keeps the pool pristine.  None of which we would have learned back in our S&B.  Opportunities abound.

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