Tonight will be the last night I visit Elizabeth as we end our two week stay near Washington DC. It is bittersweet as a parent to see your child begin to fly – a moment of loss and a moment of celebration. What soothes my soul is that my oldest is happy.
Elizabeth joined the AmeriCorps NCCC program in February and took a plane to her new family in Baltimore, Maryland. She has been doing various volunteer projects such as maintaining trails and purging garbage from nature in Staten Island. She was called to Monroe, Louisiana after families had homes swallowed by floods. A crowbar became her best friend as they gutted sheetrock, insulation and carried out possessions. Day in and day out they worked in humid conditions with masks as cockroaches scurried under foot. Her joy was in helping the community. With her team leader sent home, Elizabeth took the position.
She came back to Baltimore and became the team leader for a composite group as part of President Obama’s initiative to help the Baltimore communities. Their unit mulched trees in the streets, supported community gatherings, and took kids out to kayak to educate them on why it is important they care about the harbor areas (which right now are basically toxic). At the end of her service she was awarded the very first Corp Member of the Atlantic Region Award out of 150 members.
Today, she works in Baltimore educating the communities on summer camp options and free lunch summer programs as some children only receive meals when they attend school. The unit helps with block parties that bring neighborhoods together, and will be handing out those free lunches.
Was RV Homeschooling a Good Choice?
When we took off on this crazy voyage Elizabeth was thirteen. We yanked her out of her public school routine, social group, and educated her by real life experiences on the road, not text books. It was a gamble we took as we didn’t know anyone who had raised their children on the road. What would the consequences be if she didn’t follow traditional school? Were we doing the right thing? Were we hindering her in some way? The questions of doubt lingered, and yet our hearts told us she was flourishing in a holistic way, not by grades on a report card.
We joke that we were really preparing Elizabeth for the AmeriCorps all along. Leaving her peer social circle of home, Elizabeth had freedom to discover who she was and her own passions. She interacted with all age groups. She visited new communities in various states which expanded her perspective and empathy. She learned to go with the flow and take in each day as it came thanks to frequent calamities she experienced as a full time RV traveler. While some of the other members were coming from their own bedrooms and having to adjust to a room with 16 bunks, Elizabeth was actually moving up from a shared bed in a box to her very own loft! Luxury!
Through her experiences this year it has affirmed Jon and I in our decision to present our kids with a different kind of education. Not that everyone does, but for what our kids are to do in this life, they need it for some reason. It is so amazing to see her take her crazy RV life experiences and use them to soar in the AmeriCorps NCCC program. She is loving it there and of course, they love her.
The program has provided her a baby step to adulthood – she doesn’t have the stress of rent as room and board is being provided. Although, I am not quite sure how she is living on the $4.75 daily meal stipend? Ramen noodles anyone?
At the end of her service of ten months she will have $5,500 to use towards higher education. However, it seems she is enjoying it so much that she may sign up for the FEMA program in the winter.
So, perhaps raising your kids in an RV isn’t so bad after all? (whew)