How to Have an Unschool Adventure, No Camper Van Needed!

Wouldn’t you like to go on an unschool adventure, maybe climb into a camper van and travel the world doing amazing things?
My girls want to go on an adventure, but we don’t have a camper van. 
“Can we go to the beach on my birthday?” asks Sophie.
The beach? We hardly ever go to the beach. Would it be an adventure if we spent a day at the beach?
“But what if it rains on your birthday?” I ask. “We need a back-up plan, just in case.”
“If it rains, we’ll go to the science centre instead.”
Sophie’s birthday arrives. We look out the window. It’s overcast but dry. It’s not very warm but then again, it’s not very cold.
“The beach or the science centre?”
“The beach!” says Sophie. Her eyes are shining. She is grinning. She’s one happy birthday girl and she’s going on an adventure.
We pack a picnic: soft bread rolls, slices of ham, cheese, potato salad… and chocolate, lots of it.
Our puppy Nora is coming to the beach too. She’s also going on an adventure. She’s never seen the sea before. Will she like it?
We pile into the car. We are off!  Soon my husband Andy is manoeuvring our vehicle down the narrow steep road towards the coast. He swings the car slowly around each hairpin bend. Sophie groans. She clutches her stomach. Will she survive the journey down to sea-level? She does! An hour and a half after leaving home, we see the sea.
“Look at all the people!” I say, as we drive past the fish and chip shop. We don’t stop. We don’t want fish and chips. We have our delicious picnic. We head to the car park just around the bay, the one that has access to the sand. Will the car park be full? Will we get parked?
We turn the corner and I can’t believe my eyes: the car park is empty. There’s not a single car in sight.
“Where shall we park?”
“Anywhere we like.”
We pile out of the car. I look up at the sky. The sun peeks out from behind a cloud just for a moment. That’s enough for me: “Sunscreen everyone, before we head to the beach!”
A few minutes later we are ready. We gather up armfuls of towels and other essential equipment. “Let’s go!”
Between the bushes, there’s a sandy path that leads to the sea. There’s a sign at the beginning of the path: No Dogs Allowed on Beach.
No dogs allowed on the beach? What are we going to do? We can’t leave Nora behind. She wants to see the sea.
“Let’s find out if there are any other dogs on the beach,” suggests Andy. “Perhaps everyone ignores that sign.” So we pull Nora along the path, through the deep sand. When we get to the end, our legs are tired. We look both ways: up the coast and down the coast. And we can’t see a single dog. We can’t see a single person either. We have the beach to ourselves. No one will even know Nora is here.
We soon discover a possible reason for the deserted beach:  a bitter wind is blowing off the ocean. It whips our hair into our eyes. It holds us back as we fight our way over the sand. “I can’t walk any further!” We drop our bags and towels onto the sand.
The girls peel off their socks and shoes. No one suggests changing into swimmers. It’s not warm enough. But the cool temperature isn’t going to stop the girls splashing in the waves. How can they not go in the sea? It might be months before we make another trip to the coast. They roll up their pants. They grin as the waves lap over their feet. The dog isn’t grinning. She draws back as the waves approach.
“Come on Nora! The sea won’t hurt you!”
I sit on my towel and take photos. The wind gets even stronger and I shiver. Andy volunteers to walk back to the car to get me a coat. I drape the coat over my head like a blanket. All that can be seen is the end of my camera. I zoom in, and then from the safety of my shelter, I snap photo after photo of four girls and a dog dancing along the beach.
The girls go for a walk. They splash in the sea again. Then they drop to their knees and start shovelling sand. They are going to make a sand creature. “Let’s make Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid.”
Is that rain? Yes, drops are beginning to fall upon us. I ignore them for a while. Then a few drops turns into a steady stream. I rush to gather up my things. “Dad and I are heading back to the car,” I yell to the girls. “Stay here if you want.” They do want to stay. Andy and I sit in the dry car sipping coffee and chatting, while four girls and a dog remain on a wet beach.
The rain gets heavier and heavier, and eventually the girls appear, dragging a soggy dog. They’re grinning. “Wow! We’re having a great day. Is it lunch time?”
It is. We all find a dry spot inside the car, or under the shelter of the tailgate, and we munch our picnic.
“Wow! This is a good picnic.”
The rain falls and falls. The car windows fog up. “Stop breathing!” I order. We are warm and dry in our own little car world.  
“Hey look at the rainbow!” It’s actually a double rainbow. The rain has stopped. The girls are heading back to the beach. They want to finish their sand creature. Eight hands dig and smooth and rearrange the sand. Then four girls stand back and gaze down on a completed Ursula. 
She looks magnificent. Imogen quickly snaps a few photos… just in time. The incoming tide licks at the sea witch’s tentacles. She won’t be on the beach for very long. Nor will we. It’s time to go home.

“Thank you for a wonderful birthday,” says Sophie. “That was the best day ever!”
“The best day ever? But it rained. The wind was strong and cold. You couldn’t swim. We had to have our picnic in the car.”
“Yes, but we had an adventure!”
“Anyone can go to the beach when it’s warm and sunny.”
“Not many people go on rainy days.”
“No one else is as adventurous as us!”
So you see, we didn’t have to set off in a camper van to find adventure. We found it on a beach in the rain.
When was the last time you had an unschooling adventure?

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  1. Reply

    What a fantastic day you've had, Sue! Happy belated birthday to Sophie too. 🙂

    1. Reply


      Thank you for the birthday greetings! It was a great day, despite the weather (or maybe because of the weather.) I was thinking about your post about simple childhood pleasures. I am always happy to see my teenage daughters enjoying the simple fun of playing on the sand and splashing in the waves.

      I hope you're feeling better!

  2. Reply

    We once went on a hike where we got caught in a storm. My daughter had a blast pretending she was a Native American running through the mud and gullies the water was creating on the trails. I don't think she would have had near as much fun if not for the downpour. We usually have the best times during unexpected moments. Love your blog, by the way!

    1. Reply


      What an adventurous hike! Oh yes, it's all about making the most of unexpected circumstances. I can just imagine your daughter running through the mud. Sounds like something my girls would enjoy doing. I have to admit I don't like getting wet but I am trying to be more relaxed and not miss out on potential fun, by worrying about my hair etc!!

      Thank you for stopping by. So kind of you to leave such a nice comment!

  3. Reply

    I just love this. Sounds like our adventures 🙂

    I also tell my children to "stop breathing!" when they fog up the windows. They think that is the craziest thing 😉

    And… HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sophie!!!! May bdays are the best!! (mine is in May too 🙂 )

    1. Reply


      It's the sayings that don't make sense that are the most fun! Don't you just love sitting inside a fogged up car, where it is warm and dry, while the rain pours down outside? The only problem comes when the driver has to drive home and can't see where he's going!

      Happy birthday to you too! I almost have a May birthday. I was born on the last day of April!

  4. Reply

    What great fun! I feel very refreshed just from reading about your adventure, and seeing those photos that took me right there. I LOVE the beach when it's deserted; I also love it when it's cool rather than hot.

    I needed this refreshment after a fun but very busy day of celebrating my 4 year old granddaughter's birthday. Birthday fun on both sides of the earth :)!

    1. Reply


      The wind was very refreshing! I also like the beach when the weather is cool. We don't have to worry about getting sunburnt and yes, there are less people.

      Happy birthday to your granddaughter! 4 is such a delightful age. I bet you had lots of fun celebrating.

  5. Reply

    Happy birthday Miss Sophie. Love how your girls get to experience and enjoy the simply things in life.

    1. Reply


      Thank you for Sophie's happy birthday greeting! Sometimes I think the girls are so grown up and mature… and then we take them to the beach and they build sand castles and splash each other in the waves like little kids! Actually, I am glad they don't consider themselves above such things. Yes, simple things are so much fun!

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