Unschool Adventures leads long-term international trips & semesters and U.S.-based experiential educational programs for self-directed young adults, ages 14-21. Each of our trips builds the skills, experience, and self-confidence that a young person needs to transition into independent adulthood.
Our trips typically enroll unschoolers: young people who are given large amounts of freedom and responsibility to design their lives and educations as they see fit. But you need not use the term “unschooler” to join. We’ve enrolled homeschoolers, alternative school students, and high school students in the past. We offer enrollment to any young person who is enthusiastic and prepared for the trip to which they’re applying.
The real magic of Unschool Adventures is in the close-knit temporary communities we form. We bring together self-directed, conscientious, and kind-hearted young adults alongside experienced leaders who understand the unschooling ethic and mindset. Many participants have commented that simply living and adventuring with such a dynamic group of peers and staff is a life-changing experience in itself. As we like to say: After an Unschool Adventures trip, you’ll walk away with new friends, unforgettable memories, and a new sense of what’s possible in your life.
Every Unschool Adventures applicant is interviewed via Skype before receiving an invitation to join. We only accept motivated and prepared applicants who will positively contribute to our group. An Unschool Adventures program is not one that you can simply sign up for—you have to show us that it’s something you really want. We do this to ensure that each participant fully consents and “opts in” to each trip.
We’d love to have you on an Unschool Adventures trip. Join our notification list to get an e-mail whenever new trips are announced.
Unschool Adventures isn’t like other travel companies that offer regular, repeating trips and programs. Every Unschool Adventures trip is new and different. We do this in order to take advantage of changing world conditions (e.g. weather, prices, safety, suitability for groups of Western teenagers) and to keep things fresh for both the participants and trip leaders.
Our international trips are 4-8 weeks long and typically voyage to destinations in the Southern Hemisphere during our winter (which is their summer). Previous destinations have included Argentina, Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, and Nepal. See all our previous trips here.
International trips are announced ~9 months before the anticipated departure date and typically enroll 11 participants ages 14-19. On these kinds of trips we travel around as a single group, visiting lots of different places within the country.
The 2017 Argentina Semester is our first-ever international semester program for self-directed, college-aged young adults. On this program the participants get the chance to live together in group apartments in an international capital city (Buenos Aires) and enjoy large amounts of free time to learn the language, make new friends, adventure independently, and work on personal projects. Think of it as a gap year program (minus the mandatory service work) or a college semester abroad (minus the mandatory academics).
Semester programs are announced around a year before the anticipated departure date. We’re seeing how this first semester goes before offering the next!
Our leadership programs focus on building the tangible life skills that make you a more effective unschooler or self-directed learner. The 2015 Adventure Semester was our biggest and longest leadership program, followed by the 2016 Real World Retreat.
Our leadership programs take place at youth hostels (which we rent in their entirety) in the United States.
The Writing Retreat is a month-long intensive for young writers who want to produce a large body of work in a supportive community environment. It’s our most popular U.S.-based program and only one we’ve repeated multiple times.
Like our leadership programs, the Writing Retreat takes place in a rented youth hostel. Previous locations have included Crested Butte (Colorado), Durango (Colorado), the Oregon coast, and Cape Cod (Massachusetts). The Writing Retreat has been on hiatus since 2015, and we’re not sure when we’ll bring it back—but we hope to!
We typically don’t run programs in July, August, and September because there are lots of other great summer offerings for young adults during those time (like Not Back to School Camp, for example). Have a great summer!
Unschool Adventures originally formed in 2008 to serve the community of teenage unschoolers connected to Not Back to School Camp. Since then we’ve grown through word-of-mouth, attracting young adults from everywhere across the United States and Canada.
How does the unschooling philosophy shape our leadership? On our trips we grant our participants large degrees of freedom and responsibility in creating their international experiences—always within reasonable safety limits. Unlike more traditional teen travel programs, on a U.A. adventure you might find yourself wandering around a foreign city in a small group, figuring out how to cook dinner from scratch, or planning a week of our itinerary.
To learn more about the unschooling, check out College Without High School, Better Than College, and The Art of Self-Directed Learning by Blake Boles (director of Unschool Adventures), The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn, and the works of John Holt and John Taylor Gatto among others.
Is the trip that you want full? Are you looking for something a little different? We recommend these other camps and travel companies for young adult adventure-seekers:
Not Back to School Camp – summer camp for teen unschoolers, held in Oregon and Vermont
High Desert Center – offering gap year programs for young adults who are looking for adventure, useful skills, community and a sense of purpose. Founded by Dev Carey, who has helped run many UA programs.
Deer Crossing Camp – outdoor adventure camp in California with a self-directed focus
Carpe Diem Education – global semester programs with a service emphasis
Andeo International Homestays – homestay and language immersion opportunities
National Outdoor Leadership School – outdoor skills and leadership adventures, worldwide
Outward Bound – long-standing outdoor adventure company
Where There Be Dragons – group summer, semester, and gap year programs abroad
Trackers Northwest – outdoor leadership programs in California and Oregon
We almost always hire internally—either former U.A. participants or staff members of Not Back to School Camp and Deer Crossing Camp communities. But send e-mail us if that answer doesn’t satisfy you!