Real World Retreat 2016

The Real World Retreat gives 16- to 20-year-olds the skills and confidence necessary to move out of their parents’ houses, support themselves financially, build community, and continue living a meaningful, learning-centered life.

When: May 12 – June 9, 2016 (4 weeks)

Where: Crested Butte, Colorado

Who: 20 participants (ages 16-20, flexible)

Leaders: Matt Sanderson (program director), Autumn Star, and Zoe Vlastos
View all leader profiles

How Much: $1900
Includes all food and group activities. Does not include charter bus to/from Denver airport ($75 each way).

Arrival/Departure Airport: Denver

Application Status: Closed

Ready to Move Out?

The mission of the Unschool Adventures Real World Retreat is to give young adult self-directed learners the skills and confidence necessary to move out of their parents’ houses, support themselves financially, build community, and continue living a meaningful, learning-centered life.

Think of this retreat as a giant scavenger hunt. When you arrive, you’ll receive a list of roughly 30 specific, concrete challenges designed to prepare you for life in the real world. Your goal during the retreat is to complete as many of these as possible. For example:

  • Find a rental apartment or house and meet with the landlord for more information.
  • Shop for a week’s worth of meals for the entire group spending only $6/person/day.
  • Change the oil and air filter on a car.
  • Create a product or service and sell it to a total stranger.
  • Locate an interest-based social group and join one of their events.
  • Speed-clean a room, toilet, and kitchen.
  • Draft a realistic personal monthly budget.
  • Understand credit cards and investments options.
  • Submit a résumé and cover letter to five different organizations you admire and try to get noticed—and if they reject you, write a compelling follow-up note.
  • Create and practice a sustainable health routine that includes exercise, healthy eating, and time outdoors.
  • Explore and implement the scientific literature on what creates happiness and well-being.

Tackle these challenges on your own or in small groups: the choice is yours. Trip leaders will offer a different workshop each day, focusing on the skills needed to complete one or more of the challenges. Staff will also be generally available to assist participants as individuals or groups.

Who Should Come to This Retreat?

This retreat is designed for young adults who are motivated to move out of their parent’s homes within the next year or two. And it’s for anyone starting an independent life who wants to stay motivated and organized—and who doesn’t want to get taken advantage of by landlords, credit card companies, or employers.

Just like our Writing Retreat programs, the Unschool Adventures staff are not here to convince you that these challenges are worthwhile; you should join this program only if you see the inherent value in what you’ll do and learn. The staff’s mission is to support you along this journey and create a safe, comfortable, and friendly group living environment.

The Real World Retreat is also for those who are to eager to meet their future housemates, road trip partners, accountability buddies, and business associates. This is a highly social retreat for those seeking new friends and connections.

Daily Life

Our group will spend the month living in the Crested Butte International Lodge and Hostel in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado (location map), which we rent in its entirety. Nestled within a small mountain town and within easy walking distance to the cafes, shops, a library, and hiking trails, this property offers an incredible place to explore.

To keep the place in order, we organize participants into small chore teams to assist with daily cleaning. We cook our own dinners (lead by small groups who are learning how to budget and plan meals at the same time) and provide do-it-yourself breakfast, lunch, and snacks available 24/7. Many of our activities will require that participants be up and active during normal business hours, so we ask that everyone maintain quiet hours after 11pm.

Most days we’ll also organize a non-challenge-related group activity, such as a hike, sports game, movie, journey into town, talent shows, dance, or story night.

Every evening there is an all-group meeting that then breaks into small-group meetings (with groups of 6-7 participants and one staff member), providing an opportunity for deeper connection on a daily basis.

A Day in the Life

What might a typical day at the Real World Retreat look like? Our days vary widely, but here’s a rough sketch of the flow:

  • Get up around 9:00am
  • Build your own breakfast (bagels, eggs, fruit, etc.)
  • Work solo or in collaboration on challenges of your choice
  • Set up some one-on-one time with a staff member to assist you with a challenge
  • Eat lunch (lunch spread provided at hostel from 1-2pm)
  • Attend the workshop of the day
  • Work more on your challenges
  • Do a chore (average 30 minutes each day)
  • Join the afternoon group outing (or stay at the hostel and nap, relax, Skype with family, etc.) or help prepare dinner
  • Eat dinner with the group and attend the nightly meetings (both large-group and small-group)
  • Enjoy free time in the evening to socialize, star-gaze, or dream up future adventures with your new friends
  • Shhh–quiet hours start at 11pm

Important dates:

  • May 12: Arrival at Denver Airport, group shuttle to Crested Butte, move-in, and orientation.
  • June 9: Early morning shuttle from Crested Butte to Denver Airport. Sadness!

Photos from Previous Retreats in Crested Butte

Frequently Asked Questions

Please read our general FAQ, too!

Frequently Asked Questions

Please read our general FAQ, too!

What are the extra costs on this retreat?

The Real World Retreat program fee covers all food, lodging, and group activities. The fee does not cover travel to and from the Crested Butte hostel. Most participants who don’t live within easy driving distance of Colorado choose to fly to Denver.

If you do fly, please join our group charter bus, which will be arranged in April as we finalize our enrollment numbers. Due to the long distance of this trip (4.5 hours), the bus costs $75 each way. Please figure this number into your trip budget.

Alternatively, you may fly into Gunnison airport and arrange a shuttle with Alpine Express to the hostel.

No matter where you fly, please do not book any flights before consulting with trip staff!

In addition to travel, we recommend that students bring $150-$200 for snacks, toiletries, and other incidentals during the retreat.

What is the sleeping and laundry situation?

Our hostel has rooms with 4-6 dormitory-style beds each. Students and staff will stay in different rooms. Each student will have a small amount of personal storage space, so plan to live out of your duffel bag! Linens, blankets, pillows, and towels are provided by the hostel. We have laundry facilities located next door to the hostel and will do student laundry once a week. Linens will be changed once per week.

What is the weather like?

Variable! Expect highs in the 50s and 60s and lows around 30 degrees. Snow is definitely possible. Bring warm and waterproof clothing and shoes.

How can I stay in touch with friends and family back home?

Via cell phone (all major providers have coverage in Crested Butte) and internet (fast wi-fi is available throughout the hostel).

Is this retreat appropriate for younger participants (age 14-15)?

This retreat will be most useful for young people who are actively considering moving out of their parents homes in the next 18 months. We assume that this applies to those 16 & up. But if you’re younger and still planning on moving out (e.g. starting college early), we’re happy to consider your application.

When is the program fee due?

We ask for the entire program fee ($1900) to be paid upon enrollment. If this would cause undue financial stress to your family, we can arrange an alternative payment plan. $500 of the program fee is non-refundable and considered a deposit to secure the participant’s space. (If the program is cancelled due to low enrollment, the $500 is refunded.)

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