Vital Information

When: October 31st to December 1st, 2009.

Where: A rented vacation home in Seaside, Oregon, one block away from the Oregon coast.

Arrival/Departure City: Portland, Oregon.

Who: 17 teen unschoolers (ages: 14-19), trip leaders Blake and Abbi, and various guest writers/authors/publishers.

How Much?: $1,499 all-inclusive (room, board, activities, and local transportation to/from Portland). Students are responsible for getting themselves to/from Portland.

Application Status: Closed - we're all full!

Enrollment Deadline: June 1, 2009, for priority enrollment. (Enrollment remains open until trip fills.)

Trip Description

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a worldwide, month-long, self-paced challenge for both beginning and experienced writers. The challenge is to write a 50,000-word (175-page) novel in the month of November. Each student on our trip will attempt the challenge simultaneously, writing their own 50,000-word (or longer) novel. The purpose of the trip is to accomplish this Herculean feat, support each other in the writing process, and have a really fun time in the meanwhile.

More about the challenge from NaNoWriMo's website:

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

The best part about our trip is the location. We have reserved a 20-person capacity vacation home near the coastal town of Seaside, Oregon (technically in Gearhart) which will be our living, cooking, and writing home base. The house has a 5-minute walk to the beach, a 5-minute walk to downtown Gearhart (with a small grocery, post office, and café), and a 5-minute drive to the larger town of Seaside. The community of Gearhart is largely a vacation community, so we should have the town to ourselves in November! (See photos of the vacation home at the bottom of this page.)

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Trip Activities

1: Writing

Beginning at midnight, November 1, we will begin our main activity: hardcore, focused writing. To accomplish the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days, you will have to pump out 1,667 words each day. Please note, however, that we will not have "scheduled writing time"--you decide when and where you write. If you're a night-time writer, then by all means, spend your days napping and exploring the beaches, and stay up all night! Write inside, outside, on your bed, in the kitchen, under a table, at the beach, or at the local cafe. The only big rule is that you do not disturb any other students who are writing.

Please note that you'll need to bring your own laptop on this trip. If you don't have one, we recommend asking friends and family to borrow one. Or, for those truly ambitious and/or crazy writers, you may attempt to write your novel by hand or typewriter. We will have wireless internet access.

We have tentative plans to rent an espresso machine -- so get ready to learn how to make your own lattes, hot chocolates, and mochas! (We will thoroughly support any non-caffeine-drinkers with fresh-brewed teas).

2: Cooking

Each night, a crew of 3 students (led by Blake or Abbi) will prepare dinner for the whole group. This is an opportunity to learn how to prepare a nutritous and delicious multi-course meal for a large group while being conscious of diet. Each student will cook once roughly every 5 days. Meals will generally be vegetarian with vegan, gluten-free, and meat options.

(Breakfasts will be do-it-yourself, and lunches will be sandwich-bar type spreads).

We will have a big Thanksgiving dinner and an end-of-writing party, too!

3: Escaping from Writing

Make no mistake: this trip will make you love, and hate, writing. As with any primary occupation, you will need to escape for a while.

Our first and best escape will be the Oregon coast. A long stretch of wide, sandy beach is a 5-minute walk from our house. You'll be able to visit it at your leisure, with friends or by yourself. Swimming will not be allowed (or even desirable!). Use the beach to walk, run, sit, write, ponder, and otherwise get away from it all.

The next escape is the small town of Gearhart, also a 5-minute walk from the house. There is a small cafe, grocery store, post office, and various small shops. Farther down the highway is the larger town of Seaside, with major grocery and department stores. You'll be able to get a ride to Seaside every few days if you need to pick up anything (e.g. toothpaste, chocolate), go to the movie theater, or otherwise escape.

4: Supporting Each Other in Writing

If you're an experienced fiction writer, this trip will give you the opportunity to be an informal mentor to a more novice writer. In addition to the impromptu support/feedback that students will give each other, we will host daily optional meet-ups to discuss themes like character development, storyline, grammar, and writer's block-busting.

5: Yoga

Sitting for multiple hours, every day for a month, is not particularly kind to the body. Luckily, we have Abbi, a certified and experienced yoga teacher! She will lead daily hour-long yoga sessions appropriate for all students, no matter if you're experienced or an absolute beginner. Yoga classes are not required but highly recommended.

6: Hosting Guest Authors

We'll arrange visits/lectures/lessons by a number of guest authors. These guests might include such local celebrities as Grace Llewellyn! More names TBA.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I've never written anything longer than a 5-page essay before. Will I be prepared to write a whole novel?

A: Yes! The whole point of NaNoWriMo is that virtually everyone can write, but very few people motivate themselves to write. While many people dream of writing a novel, very few actually do it. This is your chance to do it, in a supportive atmosphere of fellow novices, without every-day distractions.

To prepare yourself for this challenge, it will be wise to read a few books first. The founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, wrote an excellent guide called No Plot? No Problem!. A very famous screenwriting book, Story by Robert McKee, is another top recommendation. Simply browse the "Writing" section of your local bookstore and you'll find a hundred more books meant to guide budding novel-writers like yourself.

But really, the best preparation for writing a novel is: writing a novel. That's what this trip is about.

Q: What is the bed/shower situation?

A: The vacation home has an upstairs dormitory with 12 individual beds, downstairs rooms with 8 spaces (a mix of individual and queen-sized beds), and 3 full bathrooms with showers.

Students in the upstairs dorm room will be older students, mixed gender.

Students in the downstairs will be younger students in single-gender rooms.

Each student will have their own bed, except one or two pairs of friends who may request to share a queen bed (in trade for receiving their own room). Priority for housing options will go to early enrollees.

Bathrooms will be designated as such: one male bathroom, one female bathroom, and one shared bathroom. Students are required to keep their bathrooms clean! Blake and Abbi will organize daily clean-up crews.

Q: What are the rules on tobacco, drugs, and alcohol?

A: Unschool Adventures has a zero-tolerance policy for tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Possession or usage of any of these substances leads to immediate dismissal without refund. Students sign an agreement to this specific rule as part of the enrollment paperwork.

Q: Is this trip appropriate for younger unschoolers (ages 13-14)?

A: Yes! One of the strongest elements of an Unschool Adventures trip is the age-mixing. In our Argentina trip, the 15-year-olds mixed harmoniously with the 19-year-olds. Unschoolers, in contrast to typical high school teenagers, are highly inclusive of students of all ages.

Students on the younger end of the spectrum should be fully prepared for a month of independent living and self-motivated writing. This does take a certain level of emotional maturity. If you'd like to talk to Blake or Abbi about your child's readiness for our trip, simply drop us a line.

Q: Will I be able to stay in touch with family?

A: There is cell phone service at the vacation home, so you will be able to call home whenever needed.

Q: What if I have more questions?

A: Easy! Write us and ask. If anything is not clear about the trip, please let us know so that we can update this webpage.


Photos of our Vacation Home

Living (Writing) Room


Upstairs Dormitory