Ten years ago I was working at a ski resort by day, writing my first book manuscript by night, and looking for international trip leader jobs.
I interviewed for my top-choice position at a gap year company, got rejected, and decided to try to organize my own trip instead.
Having recently spent 3 months in South America and desperate to return—and having recently spent a few seasons working at Not Back to School Camp—a friend and I put together a 6-week Argentina trip and offered it to the camp community. Nine teens enrolled, and all of the sudden I had a company.
On that Argentina trip, I got an email from a small publisher wanted to buy my manuscript. All of the sudden, I was an author.
Since that year, 2008, I’ve run twenty Unschool Adventures trips (from 1-12 weeks in length), published two more books, worked nine more seasons of Not Back to School Camp, and dabbled in public speaking, private coaching, podcasting, and online courses.
I’ve invested big time in some big ventures—like starting a boarding school for unschoolers—that ended in disappointment. I’ve canceled multiple Unschool Adventures trips due to low interest.
But I’m in no position to complain. I’ve spent a decade working with awesome young people, advocating for a cause I believe in (self-directed learning), and seeing the world. I’m healthy and have wonderful friends and colleagues.
What will the next decade bring? I imagine that I’m as blind to this as I was in 2008.
My priorities are different now. I don’t feel the need to continue exploring brand-new countries. I’d like to start a family before I’m 40 (that’s 5 years from now). I’d like to continue working in this field without necessarily running Unschool Adventures trips.
Maybe I’ll devise a fully-online livelihood.
Maybe I’ll start a cool school or take a job at one.
Maybe some foundation or non-profit will hire me as a location-independent Self-Directed Learning Advocate or Teen Growth Consultant. (More likely: I’ll reach out and say “Hey, create this position for me!”)
Maybe none of this will happen, I’ll fall flat on my face, and I’ll go back to square one.
For now, I’m continuing to do what I know best: reading, writing, speaking, running trips. I’m experimenting with new mediums (like podcasting and video), and I’ve restarted my private coaching service (just did my first consultation yesterday).
The stuff I cared most about 10 years ago, I still care about:
– not wasting kid’s time in unengaging school situations
– making all education consensual
– spreading the word about solutions that already exist
– helping young people expand their horizons, become more independent, and tackle meaningful challenges
Stick around long enough, and that’s when the magic happens, right? I believe so. I hope so. I’m not going anywhere.
Write me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org