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School's Out Support's
Live & Learn Unschooling Conference

The Early Bird Deadline for registration is right around the corner!
Please get your registration to us by 15 August 2002---in time to take
advantage of this special rate!

This will be a wonderful opportunity to learn how learning happens,
to erase any doubts about unschooling,
and to have a great time with other unschoolers from around the country!
Don't miss it!

Be inspired by Sandra Dodd, Anne Ohman, Joyce Fetteroll, Lisa Bugg,
Ned Vare & Luz Shosie, Fiona Hutchison and others!

Fun for the whole family!
All presentations, funshops, and activities will be open to all ages.
No Age Descrimination!

Payments will be accepted by Check, Money Order, or PayPal.
Don't hesitate! Fill out your form today!

Click here to go directly to the form!
<A HREF="http://schoolsoutsupport.org/form.html">Schools Out Support</A>:Registration

And don't forget the hotel registration either!
<A HREF="http://schoolsoutsupport.org/clarion.html">Clarion Town House </A>
Deadline for the conference rate and availability is 15 September 2002.

Kelly Lovejoy, Coordinator
Schools Out Support
Fax: 803-776-7006

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Ren wrote this about last year's conference. She and I thought we'd share it
here and at the other unschooling sites to give those of you who weren't
there some idea of what you missed---and to give those of you who were there
a few memories. It'll give those who *are thinking* about coming some
incentive, maybe! *G*


Live & Learn Unschooling Conference 2002, Columbia SC

As an unschooler, it’s easy to feel like the lone misfit in a society that
that has no
concept of your lifestyle.

At work, with neighbors, in church, or anywhere daily living might take you,
there is a
wide gap between your reality and how other people live. Even among other
homeschoolers there can often be a lack of understanding.

There are some lucky folks (like myself) that enjoy the company of one or two
families that embrace this lifestyle, but it is the rare family that would
find themselves
surrounded by the freedom loving, natural learning, radical type of people we
unschoolers. Rare that is, until one fine day dawned in South Carolina last
unlike any that had dawned before. A day that my children and I had planned
months for. A day I had dreamt of and could only try to imagine, but in which
imagination (for once) fell short of reality. A day that for the first time
ever, I was
no longer a minority, no longer the odd one in a society that I felt
distanced from,
but a part of a group.

It isn’t easy to describe the feeling of finding one’s own people. We had

There was a sense of expectancy as we made that last leg of the journey into
Columbia. We pulled up to the hotel, weary and excited...we were finally
unschoolers paradise! It warmed my heart to think of my comrades flying and
their way towards the same location.

Upon registering, we heard the bad news that Sandra had fallen, breaking her
and landing herself in the hospital. I had missed her by less than an hour!!
was mourning the loss of her presence and scrambling to fill in her time slot
another speaker. Fortunately for all of us, her son Marty had come along.
The conference wouldn’t
be totally Doddless after all.

Every time I turned a corner there was another familiar name....Anne Ohman,
Fetteroll, Zenmomma (Mary Gold), Tuck, Marji, Karin, Elissa, Kathryn and
Kelly Lovejoy of
course....these were my heroes, my sanity and my sage matriarchs. I had
re-read, questioned and been utterly charmed by their words. And here they
were, in
the flesh, looking so, well...so NORMAL!

The magic of meeting other unschoolers, especially those you’ve known from
internet, is the immediate connection. There is a common bond, a feeling of
comeraderie one doesn’t find so common in this world.

After dinner, we all headed for the Pajama party. Elissa saw my street
clothes and
insisted that I actually wear pajamas...it was a PJ party after all, everyone
ELSE would
be in sleepwear right? HA! We were the only two adults in the entire room
that actually
wore our nighttime clothing. Fortunately it was a room of free thinkers,
they didn’t even
give us a second glance. Fun, laughter and talk flowed into the room as
naturally as
wine into a sparkling goblet. Children and adults, enjoying, learning and
together. And we’d barely gotten started.

Some tired, but brave souls greeted Saturday morning barefoot by the pool as
Shosie led us through a Tai Chi class. As the cool morning air kissed our
skin and
the earth spun it’s way to light, I couldn’t help but think of the other
sane attendees
snuggled warmly in their beds. Either they were all being considerate, and
trying to
let us have a small, intimate class or ....AH, who was I kidding? They were
too dang
tired to come!!

Saturday passed in a jubilant, magical haze of activity. Chasing a small
toddler all
weekend kept me more distracted than most, but also allowed me to catch
of many different Funshops and speakers. I see colors, happy faces and
moments all jumbled up in my mind like blankets during the building of a
There was soul food, a feast that seemed unending and in between courses we
paused from gorging and found quiet moments in which life long friendships
formed. As we dabbled and played our way towards Sunday, many forces pulled
together and etched people and events on our hearts that we will never
The buffet included some unique experiences that will undoubtably stay with
us for

There is a snapshot in my mind of the concentration my nine year old
during the “Unweaving” funshop with Errol Alger. Participants wove a floor
to ceiling
sculpture with colorful rope, twine and yarn. This fantastic sculpture took
on new life
every hour or so as each child imbued it with their own version of perfection
the poor sculpture had enough perfection and finally collapsed). On Sunday
charmed us with “Unequilibrious Art”, unique mobiles made from common
tools. The room was awash with ethereal, colorful tools hanging from the

It was my privilege to witness joy firsthand in my Fun and Games on a Budget
funshop as children sculpted (and ate) with marshmallows, squished their
hands in
shaving cream and erected a geodesic dome of newspaper logs. The logs were
in solitary confinement in my hotel bathroom the night before out of respect
for the
wimps that feel asleep before midnight. My late night meeting with the
contributed immensely to the foggy brained feeling during Tai Chi.(I take no
responsibility for any inane comments I may have made during that time.)

Nancy Basket patiently led us through stories of Native American lore, shared
art and showed us how to use Kudzu in the most amazing ways. There were
mini-baskets and hand-made paper created by even the youngest attendees. It’s
pretty amazing to see nature shoved into a blender!

Kevin Dunn opened the doors of fascination with his static electricity
funshop. The
children especially loved turning the lights off to make static sparkle in
the dark.
You could almost see the neural pathways growing right in front of your eyes
everyone made connections through play.

A particularly joyful escapade was the “Play with your food” funshop in
children delighted us with food that looked like people and things. Funny
faces and
funky arrangements bedecked the room for hours. We had the best decor in the

Other workshops included soapmaking, handspinning and even Mother Goose
by to share a few of her favorite tales!

The room was jammed full when Christian Thee shared slides of his artwork. He
a deep passion for magic and art, which he manages to blend seemlessly in the
amazing ways. You could actually hear the gasps in the audience when he
shared a
piece of art that changes, as if it were truly enchanted, right before your

Meanwhile, the speakers upstairs were telling their truth from the heart.
and charming the audience, sharing with thirsty souls and causing us to think
about important issues.

Like an enchantress, Anne Ohman waved her magic wand of trust and joy,
the darkness of fear. We left calmed, hopeful and healed as her empowering
penetrated our being. The love she feels for children is evident not only in
speaking, but in the natural flow of trust exhibited with her own children.
reminded us of just how incredibly important it is to live mindfully and what
rewards of living mindfully with children are when she said,
“Discover the joys of learning FROM the children, the joys of seeing the
through their eyes and their hearts. From their earliest days, the children
are the
masters at living in the present moment! Also....are you on you very own path
in life?
Have you ever been on someone elses idea of what your path should be?
Choosing to live mindfully develops your True Self, as you discover or
your passions, and as you continually define who you are as you change and
Wonderful things are waiting to happen.”

Wonderful things indeed........

Fiona Hutchison is an actress that reveled us with her stories of freedom in
York at age 13, when she left school. In her charming English accent she
us just how important the attitude of her parents was in trusting her to find
her own
path. “I certainly don’t have all the answers to how unschooling works, but
I can tell
you what worked for me when I was given the freedom to pursue my dreams.”
My favorite story was about her failing grades before leaving school, and her
saying “F is for Fantastic, my dear!”

We were reminded of the potential for social change when Lisa Bugg shared her
experiences of answering questions to outsiders that have no idea what
homeschooling, much less unschooling looks like from day to day.
“When asked if homeschooled children are successful, I alway ask the
questioner to
define success. I scare a few people. I make a few others angry. But more
than not, I plant seeds. Re-evolutionary seeds that will sustain the future
growth of
a changed society.” and “They have spent their lives thinking for
themselves. I can’t
wait to watch as thousands of homeschooled young adults begin to move out
the adult world. We should be in store for some wonderful changes.”

And Joyce, as usual, had straight forward, balanced advice on how to get to
unschooling. Five seemingly simple steps that held an abundance of wisdom.
In step Five she comments “More often kids will slowly gather interesting
making connections as things occcur to them to create a foundation. They’ll
pieces here and there over the years to build on that foundation. This is
not easy to
see going on...and very easy to undervalue.”

The people at the conference with the most years of experience in the world
unschooling, Ned Vare and Luz Shosie, shared stories of their now grown son
what it was like in the early years, before homeschooling was common place.
raising their unschooled-from-birth son Cassidy, Ned said “Our role was to
make as
much of the world available to him as we could, and then keep out of his way
intellectually--to let him get his own impressions, and make his own choices

Another forceful presence was Ben Lovejoy. I suppose because men seem to
a harder time accepting unschooling over all, his fierce conviction was
appreciated. Several people joined him Saturday night to view the movie “
Poets Society” and discuss the implication of the theme as related to
Earlier in the evening he held a discussion for the Dads, “Reluctant
Husbands/Reluctant Fathers” which I heard had many of the participants left
new insight and understanding of what unschooling is really all about.

The common thread that wove all of these speakers together was the theme of
trust. Trusting in children, trusting that they will learn and that they know
best what is
needed for their unique life journey.

Even Sandra was present in thought as each visitor to the hospital brought
tales of her fiesty defiance in the face of disaster. Up until Sunday
evening she was
convinced (and trying to convince us) that she would indeed make an
pins in her leg or not, THANK YOU! I think the morphine may have had some
influence, but then, knowing Sandra, perhaps not.

I’ll never forget the looks of awe during the talent show Saturday night as
Dunn told the Dr. Suess tale “The Pale Green Pants” with the help of young
Tucker on Kevin’s eerie music machine. We were held captive in the darkened
as his voice rose and fell with the passion of a true storyteller.

Sweet melodies and angelic voices enchanted us. Magicians astounded (the
youngest was only 6 years old) and dancers entertained. There was so much
in the room it positively crackled with electricity.

Sunday brought more of the same. A panel discussion had questions flowing and
interesting variety of unschoolers represented...the youngest (Marty Dodd)
was 13
years old, the oldest (Ned Vare) I’m not going to guess at his age since he
so young at heart in spite of the grey hairs.

The energy that flowed between panel members and audience affected all.
says of Marty’s experience: “Since I wasn’t there to be on a panel, Marty
(I heard) and said people shouldn’t listen to those voices in their heads.
He’s a fairly shy guy. He missed hearing mespeak, and I missed his speaking,

though it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been there. At the end of the
weekend Marty
was bigger and different. Something we couldn’tand wouldn’t have planned
him to another level of self-hood. He’s been ready to return since we left.”

During the weekend of bonding, of learning, of growing, there was a feeling
safety. We had found our tribe and we knew it. The children knew it too and
reveled in the freedom. In Jake Ohmans’ words “At the unschooling conference
I felt
free. For the first time I was surrounded by people like myself, other kids
who understood
what it means to learn from life. The friends I made at the conference were
unlike other
children that you meet every day because they seemed more intelligent, like
their minds had been free to think all their lives. “

I wish I could put into words just what it is like to be utterly surrounded
by these
amazing, unschooled children, the openness with which they approach adults
and the
respect the adults had for everyone, regardless of age. But anything written
can not
recreate the feeling of being with one’s own people. The magic and aura of
spectacular weekend will be with us forever.

The end of the conference brought a sense of sadness at the parting. We were
going back to our homes, our lives, but we were going back with a sense of
renewed purpose and joy (not to mention a deep gratitude for Kelly, Melinda
everyone that made the conference possible!!)

There is a special shelf in one corner of my house. It holds some pressed
leaves, a
piece of tumbleweed, a cotton plant, a bundle of sage, a sprig of creasote, a
basket and some handmade paper. It is pieces of these people that have found
way into my heart and I am reminded of one magical weekend and these very
souls each time I look at these items.

It represents their homes, something unique to the region where they live.
gifted me with these pieces of their lives, something tangible to remind me
that I am
surrounded by likeminded souls, scattered though we may be. They gifted me
so much more than those fragile pieces of nature, the true gifts are perhaps
to see until closer inspection. Because if you looked hard enough, you could
that the true gifts were their time, their wisdom and encouragement. Their
gifts show
through each day, not so much on that special shelf, but in our lives as we
live more
peacefully, more aware and more enriched. I sniff my bundle of creasote
today as
I write and I know that anotheropportunity lies just around the corner, an
that should not be missed.

Smiling, I think of my tribe, even those I’ve not yet met and how wonderful
it will be
to see them all.

Ren Allen

Kelli Traaseth

**Ren wrote this about last year's conference.**

Thanks Ren, nice.

I'm there.


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In a message dated 4/2/03 6:24:58 PM Eastern Standard Time,
kbcdlovejo@... writes:

> Smiling, I think of my tribe, even those I’ve not yet met and how wonderful
> it will be
> to see them all.

What a wonderful collection of thoughts. Made me tear up just reading it.
My boys' kudzu baskets full of the yarn they made from wool sit beside my
computer to look at every day. Can't wait until August.
Pam G.

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Where can I get more info on this conference?<<<<<<<<



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