Donkeys, General Patton And Learning On The Road Less Traveled

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So what do Donkeys and General George S. Patton have in common?

They are representative of our family’s “unschooling” approach to learning on the road through natural life experience as opposed to the confines of a traditional classroom. I mean, how many of our daughter’s public school counterparts can say that they’ve fed a donkey and sat on General Patton’s WWII tank all in the same day?

And further, how often would you have an opportunity on a typical family vacation to trip over a tiny Arizona town like Bouse (population 630) that was so far off the beaten path that the top top secret maneuvers at Camp Bouse were not even publicly listed with the dozen other training camps back in the day. I haven’t seen any traditional history text books lately, but my guess is this desert oasis doesn’t even merit a footnote, let alone a class field trip.

One Part Socialization, One Part Education, and One Part Recreation – Stir It All Together & Watch Them Grow!

On this special day of unschooling, Marina & Morgan met up with our dear friends Michelle, Derrick and their daughters Michaela & Riona (whom we initially met thanks to Families On The Road.)

To the girls it was a play date and an adventure – thus, the learning along the way was absorbed like a sponge as a natural extension of their enjoyment, not a contrived lesson from a textbook – the whole thrust & effectiveness behind unschooling to begin with.

The first stop was Cutler’s Donkey & Bull Show.

Now to properly frame this experience, I have to first share with you my initial encounter with Bandit (a Sicilian miniature donkey) and Rowdy (a Miniature Brahma steer). I had pulled several days straight in front of the computer earlier in the winter, and decided to go romp around Quartzsite to shake the cobwebs out of my head a little.

Well… here I am driving down the road and in front of me I see a van, your typical family style variety that might haul the kids back and forth to soccer practice. But suddenly out the back passenger window pops a donkey head! Then, before I could blink, a bull pops out the other side.

Whaaat? Do I really need new glasses that bad and am I fit to be driving? But alas, after following this mirage in the desert for a few miles, I was able to discern the signage on the van describing Cutler’s show and after all, we were in Quartzsite, so nothing should surprise me!

So checking out Cutler’s got added to the “must see” list, and it was a great show put on by a wonderful couple with a definite love for entertaining and sharing their knowledge of these classic animals. The show was both educational and well orchestrated and left all of the 50 or so visitors who showed up out of the woodwork,  in the middle of the desert on this particular day with a smiles on their faces.

And on top of it all, the show was free and subsidized simply from optional donations and t-shirt purchases. For the Cutler’s it’s about sharing the love of these animals, educating the public and putting a smile on the faces of children – another life lesson for the girls that can’t be found inside a classroom.

Next it was off to the Camp Bouse Memorial and an opportunity to get up close and personal with a spectacular slice of history. And mind you, since there are signs posted that climbing on the tank pictured here is prohibited, no one in our party set foot atop the tank out in the middle of nowhere with no other souls in sight :-) No, really, honest we didn’t! ;-)

Suffice it to say a good time was had by all but more important, the value of the education that all four girls received that day and their subsequent retention was priceless.

As is our opportunity to avail our daughters to learning on the road and experiencing a slice of life that few others will do more than read about in books. Not to mention, without any prompting whatsoever, upon returning home they both headed straight to their computers to look up more information on Patton and their new donkey friends. Which only serves to illustrate that a thirst for knowledge increases exponentially when framed in this positive approach to learning, and supplementing that as we do with access to technology becomes a winning combination!

What I’ve shared with you here today is just a small glimpse of how we approach learning on the road, but it is symbolic of a commitment to our children to avail them to a well-rounded, balanced education far beyond the walls of a classroom. And when combined with computer tools and resources (which we’ll cover here on another day) it has become a winning combination for our family’s full-time RVing lifestyle.

Not a day goes by that there isn’t an ah-ha moment or a lesson to be learned through practical application and life experience.

And the path we’ve chosen to take is in fact shared by many more than one might realize. You can read more about other full-time RVing families who are also learning on the road and read more as they share their special experiences as well.

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We went full-time in 2008 in a 37ft Itasca Suncruiser and in April 2010, we upgraded to a 42ft Safari Continental which Greg drives and I now follow behind in an Excursion, towing a 20ft cargo trailer with our ATV & golf cart tucked inside. (More About Us...)
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