2013 in Review

Dear friends, family, and readers,

Here’s my 2013 year in review, a.k.a. “purdy pictures and nice stories from Blake’s life.”

Thanks for following my adventures,

The year started—as many do—with a packed bag. I was off to New Zealand for 6 weeks of hiking, farm volunteering, and exploring the absolute beauty of the South Island. 10 awesome teens and my good friends Julie and Cameron joined me for this Unschool Adventures trip.








Back from New Zealand, Brenna and I set out looking for a new apartment in Asheville. None met our stringent conditions, so we decided to spend our rent money (and air miles) traveling in Peru instead. And—with diligence and luck—we found a great apartment the day before we left, signing a lease that started the following month.

This was my third time in Peru, and it was a nice combination of old and new: Couchsurfing in Lima, being a foodie in Arequipa, home stay & horses in the Colca Canyon, and exploring sites in the Sacred Valley near Cuzco.






Back in Asheville, I prepared for Trailblazer, a new conference-style event that I organized in Asheville for college-aged (18-22+) self-directed learners. Enrollment filled slowly but steadily until we hit capacity just a few days before June launch.

Drawing friends from my unschooling, social entrepreneurship, and outdoor/camp worlds, Trailblazer helped self-directed and unschooled people from across the U.S. connect with each other. We also did a kick-ass flashmob. I made a few mistakes as the organizer (packing in too many activities, not properly vetting speakers) but it was a great learning experience and I’m psyched to run it again in 2014.







Summer in Asheville started getting sticky, so I took off to California for adventures in the mountains. I joined friends in South Lake Tahoe for a week of hanging, hiking, trail running, and frisbee. Then I popped up to Deer Crossing Camp to say hi to the crew and take notes for an article I plan to write about this amazing, unique camp.









Never one to get “enough” of the High Sierra summers, I joined Brenna, Julie, Vince, and Vince’s dad Roy on a 3-day backpacking trip in the John Muir Wilderness.





Next to Oregon for Not Back to School Camp, where I enjoyed fabulous advisees (as usual), played “women’s only” ultimate frisbee, and almost successfully remember the name of every person in camp. Sorry Janie.





By September, the Blake Club—a shady, anonymous online group—had been posting dozens of Photoshopped pictures of me. Then they took it to real life. This cardboard cutout arrived on my doorstep.


Instead of working at NBTSC Vermont, I holed myself up in a cabin in rural Maine for 10 days and started working on a new book. Fall was in full effect, and I took a few epic runs on the Appalachian Trail. Gorgeous.




Back in Asheville, I helped my friend Liam get his alternative day program for unschooled teens off the ground.


Then I popped over to Crested Butte, Colorado, where the 2013 Unschool Adventures Writing Retreat was in full swing with 26 self-directed teenage writers. This was the first program I’ve run through U.A. where I wasn’t directly present. My trusted friend Dev Carey directed the program. (Middle 4 photos credit: Sarah H.)

WR13 group outside hostel - a bit nutty


27 v2

nov 15-18

nov 11-15


I filled the rest of November with book writing, planning next year’s Unschool Adventures to Buenos Aires and Nepal, and helping Dev launch his own Gap Year program.

December found me largely in California, meeting with a family who wants to sponsor my long-held dream of starting my own school and learning the intricacies of zoning, permits, and the other red tape that goes into purchasing commercial property.

More of 2013, In Brief

Places I appeared online included USA Today, BBC Travel, the Sacramento Bee, Jobmonkey, and a personal interview with Patrick Farenga (links). I published a new HuffPo piece entitled Four Reasons to Quit School and Become a Teenage Homeschooler.

Goals I crossed off my list:

  • Run a conference for college-aged self-directed learners (Trailblazer)
  • Run an Unschool Adventure trip without me on it (Writing Retreat 2013)
  • A few of the trails on my running wish list

Goals I added to my list:

  • Walk a 100′ slackline
  • Walk a high-line (elevated slack line) – inspired by this
  • See the Aurora Borealis with Matt & Patrick
  • Live abroad with a son/daughter for a year
  • Publish an article about Jim Wiltens & Deer Crossing Camp
  • Get a dog

Notable failures:

Weird experiments:

Most fun I’ve had in a long time:

Great things I discovered that involve cats:

And with the cats, let’s call it quits. Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this, check out my other annual reviews: 2012 / 2011



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