Laura Tells How Vagabond Camps Started and What is in Store for 2021
Updated: Jan 1, 2021
That 2020 was a doozy, huh? Yep, for me too.
It started out as the hardest year of my life. The story is not all mine so I will spare the details but it sucked. And then you know, the pandemic. And life got turned even more upside down.
My company had to reduce everyone's hours and pay like so many and I was stuck with a lot of extra time on my hands. (Note this was with two little kids at home now full time so if you are a mom of little ones you know how much REAL extra time that actually means but I digress) But overall less money, but more time. The most valuable asset on the planet, right?
The beautiful thing about going through really tough times is it tends to cause you to really reflect plus give you the fire and motivation needed to really make change. If you are comfortable, why change? When you are uncomfortable, you have to.
And with more time, I had more time to reflect, and time to actually action on it. Thank you global pandemic? (said like Ron Burgundy with a question mark at the end)
So my change was initially just a little spark. I thought I would get an RV and hit the road with my two little ones. Get away. Explore. Everyone thought I was crazy. I probably was.
But I started telling my Papa Charlie about this plan I had. And he said the words that pivoted my year. "Well, I guess there was never a reason for this to come up in conversation, but....."
And that is when he started telling me all about the traveling summer camp he created in 1972, Vagabond Camps. A camp that left from Northpark Mall in Dallas, TX to head out West into Canada, through the Pacific Northwest, into California and back again. A camp that visited our National Parks and the beautiful places in between. A camp where the kids actually camped. MY DREAM.
(Image: Original Wall Street Journal Ad for Vagabond Camps)
I couldn't believe I had never heard of this before. But that was it! This is what I wanted to do. I knew in my soul I wanted to recreate this summer camp.
I should note, that I LOVE summer camp. I went to Camp Longhorn every summer I was eligible and it is still some of my best memories. The thought of creating memories like that for a next generation makes me happy.
I knew I wanted to do a scouting trip before starting the camp and thank to my Papa's meticulous record keeping from the 1972 camp, I had an incredible roadmap. I wanted to take my own kids on the trip before bringing a whole group.
So the planning began for our scouting trip but then it became time to make a financial investment. And that's when things get scary. I am VERY risk averse. So I had all of the fire to make change and recreate this wonderful camp but when you have to put your money where your mouth is...well, that's when it gets real.
I am a meticulous planner and I wanted every detail figured out before I took one step forward. But it is hard to make any step forward with this mindset and it was holding me back.
And then a colleague of mine (shoutout Erich Roepke) who I had worked with when I was the Brand Manager for One Eleven Watches posted a short little quote he had heard from a mentor and it was what I needed.
"Commit, figure it out"
I found my screenshot of it. I screenshotted it 37 seconds after he posted it. It spoke to me.
As my alma mater's ambassador of culture, Mathew McConaughey, would say "Green Light." Time to buy the RV and hit the road.
And we did. We hit the road for four weeks. Another "Green Light" of the pandemic - the new acceptance of working from home turned working from anywhere. If it hadn't been for the pandemic there would have never been 4 weeks we could take away from our real jobs to do this. Now we could work on the road.
This was BY FAR the highlight of 2020. Texas > Colorado > Wyoming > Montana > Idaho > Utah > Colorado > New Mexico > Texas. (I will do a whole post on the trip one day! But shoutout to my instagram account @momstreaming where I am trying to document the trip)
And then we were back and wanted to find a way to help supplement the payment of this beautiful new RV we had that we didn't have any real plans to use until the summer for the camp.
Hello, RV Rental business! I found a couple of up and coming sites that were the airbnb for RV's (RVShare and Outdoorsy) . And wow, our RV was a hit! We weren't just making the payment, we were making solid side gig cash.
We were meeting awesome people. Helping them get started on their RV adventures. And most importantly helping people get away and connect with family safely in the time of a global crisis. It was fulfilling.
Green Light again - pandemic had people seeking safer ways to travel. And RV's were the ticket.
So serendipitously we were sitting on a new RV in a market craving to get away and travel in RV's.
Red Light - California campgrounds are locked down, National Parks are trying to figure out how to open up safely, and Canada's borders are closed. Schools are shifting schedules as they figure out how to operate in this new normal. And committing to a summer camp with so many unknowns seems risky. (Remember, I am risk adverse)
So here we are on the first day of 2021 and we pivot again. For 2021 we are investing in the RV rental business and hope to start the summer camp in summer 2022 when things hopefully will be closer to normal again.
We just bought our second RV and hope to grow our rental fleet.
I am feeding my soul by FINALLY doing something with my interior design passion. This second RV is a blank slate and I will let everyone follow as we get it "glamping ready".
Vagabond Camps will now be be more than just a summer camp. It will be a hub where people can start their journey for getting outside.
We will now offer luxury and full service RV rentals, custom trip planning that can help others find campgrounds, plan travel routes, and build memorable itineraries.
And in 2022 - we will still be here to help the kids get outside and hopefully ignite our youngest explorers with our summer camps.
I am so excited for what Vagabond Camps has in store for 2021 and beyond!
Thanks for the trip 2020!