Unschool Adventures leads international trips and U.S.-based 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, but you need not be an unschooler to join. Homeschoolers, alternative school students, high school students, and the avowedly non-labeled are welcome to apply. We offer enrollment to any young person who is enthusiastic and prepared for one of our trips.
Join our notification list to get an e-mail whenever new trips are announced.
The real magic of an Unschool Adventures trip is the people. We bring together positive, conscientious, and kind-hearted young adults to form close-knit temporary communities, facilitated by experienced leaders who understand the unschooling mindset. Much of the learning and growing on our programs comes from simply living and adventuring with such a dynamic group of peers and staff for an extended time period. After an Unschool Adventure, 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” or attend because your friends or parents suggest it. You have to want it. (This policy alone ensures a positive group dynamic, because we know that everyone has clearly opted in.)
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 North America.
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 The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn (director of Not Back to School Camp), College Without High School, Better Than College, and The Art of Self-Directed Learning by Blake Boles (director of Unschool Adventures), and the works of John Holt and John Taylor Gatto among others.
The most important thing to know about our trips and programs is: we don’t run them on a regular rotating basis! Every year is a blank canvas for us, and our offerings are changing all the time. The best way to find out what we’re offering is to join our e-mail notification list (and ensure that the emails actually reach your inbox!).
Our international trips are 4-7 weeks long and typically voyage to southern hemisphere destinations in the late fall, winter, or spring. Previous destinations have included Argentina, Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, and Nepal. (See all our previous trips.) Trips are announced and applications open 7-10 months before a trip’s departure date. We typically enroll ~10 students on our international trips.
The Writing Retreat is our most popular U.S.-based program and only one that we’ve repeated multiple times. We typically run the retreat for one month in the fall (October/November) in a rented hostel which accommodates our group of ~25 young adult writers plus four staff. Previous Writing Retreats have taken place on the Oregon coast, Crested Butte (Colorado), Durango (Colorado), and Cape Cod (Massachusetts). Applications for each year’s Writing Retreat typically open in January. (We’re took a break from the Writing Retreat in 2015 to run the Adventure Semester; look forward to a possible return in 2016!)
Our leadership programs focus directly on the skills and attitudes necessary to take full advantage of one’s freedom as a self-directed learner. They started in 2010 when Blake ran two multi-week programs in Ashland, Oregon, under the banner of Homeschool Leadership Retreats. He then merged Homeschool Leadership Retreats with Unschool Adventures and ran two shorter programs in Asheville, North Carolina (ZTC Camp and The Asheville Intensive). These programs focused on the tools necessary to succeed as a creatively focused, young adult self-directed learner—whether college-bound or not. The 2015 Adventure Semester was our biggest and longest leadership program!
We don’t run programs in June, July, and August, because there are lots of other great summer offerings for young adults during those time. August and September are also when Not Back to School Camp takes place.
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
Deer Crossing Camp – outdoor adventure camp in California with a top-notch teen leadership program
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 tend to hire former U.A. students and staff members of Not Back to School Camp and Deer Crossing Camp instead of recruiting brand-new staff. But send us an e-mail if that answer doesn’t satisfy you!