The Wright Adventure

The Wright Adventure

Posted on

Wright Boys

During our Social Hour meeting this past month, we spoke with Alana Wright, who told us about her family’s adventure of converting a school bus into a full-time home for a year! We wanted to learn more about this epic experience, so we asked Alana and her family if we could share their story.

In summer of  2020, Alana and her husband, Guy, decided to take their three boys out of school and do school at home. Then they found West River Academy and were intrigued by our philosophy about Natural Learning. Since the boys have such vibrant energy that should not be restricted to learning within four walls, this was a better fit for them. When the school year was approaching in the fall, Alana and Guy presented the option to go back to public school and the answer was “no way!” This worked out perfectly because they had been wanting to get out of the daily routine of “work, school, weekend, repeat.” So, they acquired an old schoolbus and spent six months renovating it into a tiny home. This was a great way for Jordan (12), Jonah (10)  and Jameson (7) to get a hands-on learning experience, in addition to some fun bonding time. Guy is a carpenter by trade, so he was able to delegate tasks to them based on what was age-appropriate. 

In July of 2021, the whole family and their three dogs hit the road! They started heading east from their home in Colorado. They drove through the mid-west in peak summer and enjoyed fishing in rivers, going on hikes and visiting national monuments. As summer turned to fall, they watched the leaves change and drove through the eastern states. They really embraced the idea of learning based on their surroundings, rather than pushing a curriculum. They did have some exercise books that the boys actually enjoyed doing, so they brought those with them. Their year of learning looked like walks through the Petrified Forest, eating lobster in Maine, participating in Ranger programs, visiting historical sites, learning about farming practices and, Jonah’s favorite, visiting the NASA museum.

A great observation that they shared was that not every space in the RV/schoolbus was actually used in the way that they expected. For example, they built a sit-down area where they expected the boys to study and relax. But once they were on the road, it was obvious to them that the boys would want to spend most of their time outside! As the trip went along, the study/relax room turned into a storage space. Alana said, “When you’re building a custom tiny home, it’s hard to predict how the space will be used in reality and now we’ve learned so much that if we did it again, we might have designed some things differently.” 

There is definitely a lifestyle adjustment from living in a full house to a tiny home on wheels. For one, living in an RV means conserving water, propane and doing daily tasks that need to be done often due to the confined space. However, they made a point to stay at campgrounds along the way, which provided some additional conveniences. Overall, they did great as a family living this way for a year because they didn’t rush from place to place; they truly enjoyed each town that they stayed in and made a point to absorb the history and life lessons that their surroundings provided them. 

One of the unexpected challenges the family discovered was the ever-changing social atmosphere that comes with meeting new people on the road and parting ways shortly after. The boys always made friends at the campgrounds easily, and, after days of playing and adventuring together, the families would part ways. After Alana and Guy noticed the emotional toll it was having on them, they came up with the idea to write postcards to their newfound friends. This was a great exercise for them to reflect on their travels, practice their writing skills and continue to feel emotionally close to their long-distance friends. 

The RV trip lasted exactly one year; from July 2021 to July 2022.  This isn’t the end of their adventure, though; they are currently working on a big project, which is to build a homestead in the Ozark region of Missouri! One day they hope to rent out their RV, build a yurt and host other homeschooling families on their property. Their family loved learning about farming and homesteading, so they hope to share their knowledge someday.

Alana and Guy, thank you so much for this great interview and for letting us share your story!