2018 Winner

Mason Taylor

Bartlett, TN

When I was younger, my dad was a stay-at-home-dad and my mom worked as an Air Traffic Controller. We lived in a nice house in a cozy suburban neighborhood with lots of friends just down the street. We went to a nice church. Life was great. But then my mom started having dizzy spells and was forced to retire because of a medical condition. The change took them by surprise and they weren’t prepared. Things were pretty tense for a while. Since neither one of them had a job, we could no longer afford our house. We would have to move. And we did - every two weeks for about a year.

Once my parents realized that we would have to move, rather than seeing it as a devastating blow they looked at it as an opportunity. We rented our house to a military family, put most of our belongings into storage, and loaded everything else we needed into my grandpa’s motorhome. My brother and I were homeschooled at the time and my mom thought it would be a good time to do some traveling to learn about American history. She planned a route that would allow us to experience Revolutionary history at places like Williamsburg and Jamestown, Civil War history at places like Boston and Gettysburg, and the natural beauty of our country. We visited so many museums and houses of famous leaders that I lost count. At every National Park, we would complete the Junior Ranger program and learn the park’s history. I have quite an impressive collection of badges from those parks. Plus, we got to do things we could never do at home, like crabbing or driving a covered wagon or seeing elk and bears.

During our trip, we parked our RV in mostly small campgrounds and moved either every week or every two weeks. On a typical day of "roadschooling" we would do our school in the morning, then pack a lunch and head out to see something new. When we got home we would write about what we had learned about the site we visited if it was some place like the Hoover Dam or we would write about our experience if it was some place like the Redwoods. We learned about the uniqueness of every state we visited - its capital, what it was famous for, famous people who lived there, etc. Some days were rest days and we just stayed in the campground and played with other kids who were there. My brother and I got really good and making friends with strangers. We made friends all over the country. For the most part it was fun, but sometimes it was hard. Just when I was really getting to know someone we would move. Once I tried to stay in touch with a friend I had made, but that didn’t last long. Periodically, we would stop and stay with friends or family for a few weeks. Then we could spend the night with them and get out of the RV. Plus it was nice to be with people we knew.

Moving every few weeks for that year had a significant impact on my life. I learned that I don’t need a lot of "stuff" to be happy.

We had very little room in the RV for things like toys, but we were content. We rode our bikes around the camp, swam, and explored. I learned that my brother was actually fun to be with. We were kind-of forced to become best friends. I’m not sure that would have happened if we hadn’t lived in an RV. I also learned that America has a lot of interesting and beautiful things to see and that nice people can be found everywhere. We ate all different kinds of food, went to lots of different kinds of churches, and tried lots of different activities. In the end, I consider my year of roadschooling to be one of the best of my life, and I would do it all over again, even though it meant a lot of moving. It was worth it.

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