One of the scariest and best things I’ve ever done

10 January, 2017

You might have gathered that our dog Zoe had puppies ten days ago. Ramona was cuddling one of those tiny little things, just one day old, and she had such a look of love on her face I thought I might explode. I said “Is this the cutest thing that has ever happened to you?” and she said “Nope. It’s the second cutest thing that has ever happened to me” and I said “Oh! What’s the first cutest?” and she said “I don’t know. It hasn’t happened yet.”

Tim and I caught each other’s eye. We’d been talking a lot over Christmas about personality types, exploring the Enneagram. I am a blatant Number Seven. A huge enthusiast, but someone who is very much future focused, who can be doing something awesome in the present, but still pretty certain there’s always something better around the corner.

I had an inkling Ramona was a bit like me. That “second cutest” answer was about as seven-ish as you get!

But right here, right now, I can absolutely definitely say that this last weekend involved one of the scariest and best things I’ve ever done.  * and **

We had over a hundred unschoolers come to our farm for an off grid summer camp. (What is unschooling?) And I was QUITE nervous beforehand. I was worried that I had got our farm (me and my husband and the family we live with) in a little over our heads with my extravagant enthusiasm and gun ho-ness. I mean, who does that? Lives a rickety, bare-bones life on a bit of land for a year and then invites every unschooler in New Zealand for a sleepover?

Three days away from camp and we had no loos, no hot water, no kitchen. It was pouring with rain, our 28 ducks were wandering around quacking their HEADS OFF at 5am and the meadow that we were meant to be camping in was a construction site. I was quite terrified (you can see it in my eyes at the start of the video.) I don’t think it was fear of failing – I’ve tried really hard to give up on that fear since having children. I think I was anxious that we might end up letting a whole load of families down. Ruin their holidays.

I guess you might want to see how it turned out?


Before we all moved onto our land, we all knew that we wanted to share it. It was ours, but ours for sharing. Having this camp was probably the first major thing we’ve done along these lines and it went so well. The whole thing was pretty much one humoungous Site of Mutual Fulfilment and I think one of my aims in life is to create more and more SMFs.

I was sitting at the solar disco (oh, not sitting for long, don’t worry! Just a few seconds. All the other hours were completely occupied with cutting shapes. These days my style is almost entirely Hardcore Interpretive) looking around and I was feeling SO FULL. So, so, full.

Full of admiration of all these parents who have chosen a pretty radical life with their children, full of a sense of privilege that we get to live with people who are visionary and resourceful enough to pull this off with us, and full of the potential of dreaming and daring.

And I guess that’s what happens, a little dreaming and daring actually makes you MORE able to dream and dare.

What are your plans for 2017? I would love to hear what you are hoping and dreaming of.

Read more:
Why we began to unschool
Seven things you oughta know about unschooling
Our application to the government to get the official stamp on our unschooling- an exemption.

*Erm, but can I also say that I believe that our “best” is something that can keep blooming and growing? So I still think there are some best things ahead in the future?!

** It’s possible that giving up jobs and moving to New Zealand with a few bags of luggage ranked up here too.

PS Just so you don’t think our life is all blue skies and sitting at solar parties feeling fulfilled- my last day of camp was spent in bed spewing forth my guts. Sickest I’ve been in ten years, maybe a mixture of a tummy bug and exhaustion. Ugh! Is that the yang?

A couple of extra photos (thanks to the beautiful nomads from The Bus who took these!)

off grid unschooling camp New Zealand

unschooled camp new zealand nz off grid unschooled camp new zealand nz off grid

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  • Madeleine 10 January, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    OMG! This is so cool (except the spewing up your guts part – suffer with you). I have once been to Hesfes in Uk and my sons dad take him there every summer. Home ed is illegal here in Sweden so most people move to the swedish speaking parts of Finland in order to home ed. I wish we could have a summer camp and that we could feel what you felt, a part of a tribe all living a radical life.

    • Lucy 10 January, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      Oh wow, people move to Finland to do it! holy moly. It is so sad that homeschooling is illegal. Real scary, eh? x

      • Madeleine 11 January, 2017 at 6:59 am

        Yes it is scary. It was not long ago it was turned illegal, 2009, and it has led to some kids being taken from their parents (Dominique Johnsson being the famous one) because they wanted to home school.

  • Robin 10 January, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    The coolest thing for us this year is moving to Motueka and we’ve just been accepted to caretake a gorgeous island holiday retreat and we’re going to live in an off-grid cottage on 5 hectares. I’m pretty excited, and it also means I will be able to unschool as a solo mama!

  • Luke Brown 14 January, 2017 at 1:21 am

    I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this! It’s something that I have never heard of before but after reading this it has opened my eyes to the idea and it does sound great. I hope that you create more great memories with this in 2017.

    I hope you don’t mind but my friend has started a blog called These Random Acts, a home, family, and lifestyle blog, focusing on setting and achieving goals as well as performing random acts of kindness.

    She would love to hear your feedback and to also hear some of your own personal goals!

  • Rachel 11 February, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Lucy! I just found your blog and spent about 2 hours reading it in bed, hot mug of coffee in hand, and I just LOVE it. I am not a mum (yet! 😉 but found your lifestyle and opinions to be so in line with how I feel and I just couldn’t stop reading! About un-schooling and self-love and autonomous children and children’s rights and everything – Just WOW. You’re amazing and what a wonderful job you are doing! I bookmarked your page and just know I will come back to it in the future. Thank you for sharing your life and giving your honest opinions on what has worked for your family in such a positive, nonjudgmental way. Hi from Boston!

    • Lucy 13 February, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Oh my goodness! so nice to hear from you!! Such a huge hello from me 😀 How did you find me?! xx

  • Eliza 21 June, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    When’s the next camp?? 😉

    • Lucy 22 June, 2017 at 9:47 am

      New Years 😀 It is called Tribe: Off Grid on Facebook x