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Our family of six is on a family sabbatical traveling by motorhome around the United States. Keith’s job as a coach/scout with the Chicago Blackhawks combined with our kids competitive travel sports schedules has ruled our lives. We decided to stop the madness for the next seven months and experience all that our country has to offer together… We are currently in WILLIAMSBURG, VA.
Location, location, location! You cannot get a closer stay near a National Park then from this Harpers Ferry KOA. You could walk or ride your bike here even though we chose to drive, because we have our NPS annual pass allowing us free parking. Plus, our time was limited so we wanted to make the most of the hours we had in the park!
West Virginia was our 31st state we hit on this trip! We finally committed to putting our USA map (which we bought from the St. Louis West KOA) on the back of our RV. Maybe we won’t be selling our home on wheels once we get back to Arizona after all? Hmm….We are growing a little attached I think. The kids had fun taking turns putting on the various state stickers onto the map and celebrating just how far we’ve come.
This was our 5th Recreational Adventures owned KOA that we have stayed at. Recreational Adventures Campgrounds owns and operates ten premier KOA campground and resort facilities in the United States. Their properties are always busy on the weekends as they offer lots to keep the campers busy having fun. The Harpers Ferry Grapes and Grinds is adorable as it is a replica of John Brown’s Fort. It’s always fun to go to the wine tastings they offer and enjoy a specialty coffee drink in the mornings as well.
Did you say free pancakes? Our family is there. Every time. We can’t help ourselves. Another perk at most of the Recreational Adventures Co. campgrounds on the weekends! I can’t thank you enough for feeding my family at least one meal a day!
This Harpers Ferry location has it’s own movie theater- the first we’ve seen along our KOA tour!
The weekend we were here the KOA was having Civil War reenactments all day on Saturday. Our kids were not necessarily thrilled that we made them sign up to volunteer to be a part of the afternoon show. But, we try to teach our kids to be “gamers.” Just go with the flow and if someone asks you to do something and they want your help, then you just do it whether it’s cool or not. Luckily, they helped out because they were good examples to the younger kids who had trouble following the directions because of their age! Believe it or not our kids also said they learned things that they didn’t already know. Go figure. The more we put into life, the more we get out of it!!
The highlight of our time in Harpers Ferry was learning about the Appalachian Trail. Yes, Aidan is hiding the Ap at the entrance to the bit of trail running through HF!
We spent awhile in the Appalachian Trail’s only Conservancy learning about the famous trail and earning another Junior Ranger badge.
We really enjoyed meeting this couple who happened to come in to the Conservancy while we were there. It was fun to hear about their time on the trail and share stories of our uniquely designed travels. They were very inspiring! I love to see people out there living their lives!! Go get ‘em Liver and VA! Hope to run into you one day back in the West!
Everyone’s first question for us when it comes to us doing this trip during the school year is “Are you homeschooling then?” I explained before we left on the trip that this is the one area that caused me a bit of anxiety about taking off around the US for 7 months and pulling the kids from 6th and 7th grade. I wanted to do a relaxed curriculum focusing on obviously geography and history through our travels. Here is how we are learning at our Gettysburg, PA KOA.
Starting off our day with a home cooked breakfast outdoors while watching our History Channel DVD on Gettysburg. I purchased many History Channel movies for the trip so we could brief the kids on areas and events that we would be experiencing.
After breakfast and the movie, it’s time to drive to the Battlefields of Gettysburg to experience them firsthand. The kids had a wonderful 5th grade teacher who interactively taught them a lot of Civil War history so it was fun for them to see in person many of the things they had studied.
Here at Round Top General Porter tells Morgan a story of his daughter and a famous pencil, before giving Morgan a replica herself. The kids all did the Junior Ranger books here and earned another badge as well.
One of the kids had made this box up awhile ago and we threw change it when we remembered. I brought it in the RV before we left so that we could use it for something fun along the road. The kids had enough change to rent banana bikes, play mini golf and do some mining at the KOA when we got back from the battlefields.
Hands down this is the best part of staying at the KOA… the time to decompress after a long day of touring historical sites! The kids can run around while Keith and I can take a walk and just breathe in the fresh air or just sit with a glass of wine. You can’t compare staying at a hotel at times like this. At most hotels, there are very limited activities for kids to do, possibly an indoor pool. At the campground, there is an abundance of outdoor fun. This is also when we can grab our moments of solitude! Back to the curriculum…
Physical Education- Never a worry about the kids getting in their physical education! You know it’s most kids favorite class of the entire day all throughout school anyway. And pictures of kids having fun outdoors are just priceless anyway!
Science- This is the first KOA that the kids have done any gem mining. They had a lot of fun just messing in the sand and water and seeing what gems they could find. Then they were able to read on the poster what elements they had acquired.
Math- We are doing daily math on Kahn Academy right now. It is easy to do from the iPads and the kids enjoy the challenges. Most KOA’s have good wifi which enables the kids to do some work from the campsite. Otherwise we do most of it while we are on the road driving. Not a bad environment to learn a little math before dinner!
Homework- The kids had to read the directions to this new game and work together to figure out how to play Carpetball while we were making dinner. They loved it and it was the first one we’ve seen at a KOA.
I think we’re all going to miss this relaxed way of learning! Any questions on how we are road schooling throw them my way!
Labor Day is behind us which means summer fun is over for most as kids have gone back to school across the country. Everyone that is but crazy families like ours who are choosing to roadschool. Campgrounds are much quieter and tourist crowds are minimal during the weekdays. September is the perfect time to be camping and traveling out east!
Here in rural Pennsylvania we are getting the best of both worlds. A city experience combined with downtime at the quiet campground. This Philadelphia-Westchester KOA is about a 50 minute drive into the big city. It is a ways from even a grocery store or a highway even.
I love visiting all of the major cities in our country. I am fueled by the energy of a big city! Philadelphia is an absolute historical gem. I would wander around here every day easily, if we were staying closer. We chose to hang out at the campground for our second day in the area and I’m really glad we did or we would’ve missed out on these simple family times. Sometimes we can get caught up in trying to fit in all of the historical sites or touring around and not take the time to just relax and be at the campground itself. I have to say, that downtime doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not used to taking time to just hang out and chill. There’s always something to do or see, right? This trip is teaching me how important it is that we take time out to relax along our journey. The kids would never leave the campgrounds if we left it up to them! I’m so happy that this beautiful KOA afforded us opportunity for quiet time in the outdoors or we would’ve missed out on these moments…
A quiet picnic lunch by Brandywine Creek.
Fishing and renting canoes…
Time for Cole to inflate his raft that he bought in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and take it for a cruise along the Brandywine!
Sometimes I get nervous about not having the kids in school or on their sports teams and I wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Then we have days like this and I am reminded that this is quality of life and I am so grateful that we are out here doing this family trip together!