As I explained in my Beginnings post, I haven’t always considered myself an unschooler. I went to my first unschooling event four months after the death of my husband, Ian. I was always curious about the idea of unschooling, and had already become much more relaxed in my methods of schooling at home. I was excited to attend the Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering in Sandusky, Ohio at the Kalahari Resort in January of that year. I was very curious and had a lot of questions.
It was a fantastic experience for me. I first attended in January of 2013. I met David Albrecht and CIndy Gattis and soaked up as much as I could from the many speakers. I was inspired. I have always enjoyed the speakers at this event, however I”m always surprised how few parents turn up for them. Often there are several hundreds of families that register, with less than 40 parents turning up for some speakers. I suppose this means many families attend this event with just the idea of it being a holiday. However I am always looking for an opportunity to be encouraged along my path, that is what I often find at these gatherings. I was also impressed by the other children in attendance. As a group, I found them to be free spirited, independent and kind. It ended up to be a great idea for my mom to go along with me the first year, she was impressed as well, and it gave her an educated view of unschooling.
The second year I attended with my cousin. She was great fun and helped with the kids when we wanted to split up and do different activities. The kids marketplace was a lot of fun that year for us. My cousin is a great crafter, and all of us had so much fun making jewelry and crafts together. It’s a wonderful experience to see all of the hard work that goes into the items the kids want to sell. It’s really exciting to see them set their prices, and barter with other kids for some of their wares. It’s an opportunity to buy some pottery, jewelry, soap, candles, etc., you name it the creativity is overflowing.
UGO is set up in such a way, that there is so much to do for parents and kids, it’s sometimes hard to chose. There are fun shops, which are fun classes led by other kids. The second year we attended, BIg Z did fun shop on Littlest Pet Shops. Lil’ Z loves the lego mini figure trading fun shops best. They are different each year, but the largest is always the Nerf war. There are plenty of fun family events, like the dance party and the talent show. We also love the chance to be involved with the Fairy God parent program. It’s so fun to give and receive gifts, and surprise each other with wonderful random acts of kindness.
Last year I attended with Poose, his mother, all of our kids and our friend, Chris. We weren’t married yet and the idea of unschooling was very new to their family. All of us got one of the combined rooms with a full kitchen. It was a blast! It saved us a lot of money to cook in the room, it made it easy for everyone to drop in and out of the room, grab something to eat and be on their way. There was plenty of space for everyone. Perry and PeeWee having been public schooled until recently, didn’t feel comfortable with joining in a lot of the activities by themselves. They spent most of their time in the water park. It still served as a positive introduction for them into unschooling. Poose enjoyed listening to the speakers with me and had a lot of his questions answered.
Sadly we won’t be attending this year. The kids talk about our Kalahari waterpark Adventures all of the time. They are disappointed we won’t be going this year, but we are sure we will return. This year the Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering will be held May 22-27th. You can’t beat the rates. So please visit the website or their facebook page to learn more. For me, my very favorite part about going to Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering was the non judgmental approach of the event. I was new to the idea when I decided to first attend, I am so glad I felt welcome anyway. I have found the online communities of unschoolers to be less than welcome to new comers with questions. I have found the opposite to be true of this event. It’s a great introduction into the world of unschooling, you should check it out.