Podcast Episodes

Episode 025 – Roadschoolers Raylea Willey & Maddie Karnes

Today’s podcast features interviews with some pretty incredible youngsters who are growing up RVing with their families. One of them now lives in an RV park managed by her parents.

I bumped into 15-year-old Raylea Willey at the 2019 Workamper Rendezvous in October, and I met 10-year-old Maddie Karnes while visiting the National RV Training Academy the week before Rendezvous.

Raylea lives at the Texan RV Park in Athens, Texas. Her mother, Stephanie, is the administrator of the academy, and her stepfather, Todd, is one of the instructors and manages the campground.

She has been homeschooled or roadschooled for several years, and describes what that experience has been like for her, and how Raylea has benefited from that transition.

Her schedule changed from sitting in a classroom from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with four minutes between classes and 45 minutes for lunch to spending just two to three hours a day in typical education activities. Through the change, she actually excelled in her studies.

Raylea helped form a group for local teens who are also homeschooled, so she and others can enjoy some of the positive aspects of socialization that come from hanging out with other students her age.

Because her parents work at the RV park, she encounters other kids who are being roadschooled as they travel with their parents, so Raylea offers some advice for them.

She also offers some advice to parents on how to make the RVing experience more relevant, interesting and impactful for kids, especially teens and tweens. She provides insight to what youngsters her age are thinking and feeling about living in an RV, and what parents can do to ease the transition from a traditional home experience to a more nomadic lifestyle.

Students her age often seem forced into a type of conformity that is necessary for a large-scale educational environment. But, Raylea’s experience seems to have opened doors for her to discover more about herself and the world she lives in.

More importantly, she’s creating opportunities to help other kids and teens who RV full-time to connect with each other and share their experiences.

Our second guest is 10-year-old Madison Karnes, or Maddie as she prefers. Her experience is a bit different from Raylea’s because Maddie is just starting out in the full-time RV lifestyle.

She also just started roadschooling, but is already seeing how it benefits her in comparison to other friends who still attend a typical school.

National RV Training Academy Director Terry Cooper joins us in this segment and engages Maddie in talking about things she does at the campground, especially her entrepreneurial effort to operate lemonade stands to serve people going through tech training and staying at the Texan RV Park.

Maddie describes what she likes most about living in an RV, and she talks about some of the hobbies she pursues on the road. She even shares some of her career aspirations.

Raylea Willey and Maddie Karnes are pretty typical of other youngsters their age who I have encountered over the years, not only as a journalist covering the RV lifestyle, but as a full-time RVer.

They are super confident, super polite and exceptionally conversational, and even more so when some guy hasn’t thrust a microphone in front of them. Roadschooled students just seem to develop the ability to speak comfortably with people of all ages.

Raylea’s advice to give kids time to discover the advantages to roadschooling and the RV lifestyle on their own makes sense to me. Children who have been RVing for a while find they absolutely love not only the lifestyle, but the ability to learn on their own.

Parents may need to tug them into the RV, especially if the students are older. But, if they are given space to grow into the new lifestyle, they’ll adopt and wonder how in the world they ever wanted to cling to that other life.

Moving into an RV is a big lifestyle change, but one that gives kids far more freedom than they have ever had. Rather than spending eight hours a day in a classroom, now they invest three hours in self-directed schoolwork. That gives them several extra hours of time to read, create, tour, and experiment on their own. It is a huge confidence builder.

Maddie’s experience running lemonade stands with another youngster at the RV park provides more evidence that kids who live full-time in RVs enjoy many of the same experience as typical children. Yet, they experience so much more by traveling from state to state.

I’d like to thank Raylea Willey and Maddie Karnes for taking time to share their experience. There is no doubt they both face a very bright and rewarding future.

Whether it is running a business from your RV or working short-term jobs for a variety of employers, Workamper News can give you information to help plan a course to live your own dream and get you on the road faster than you thought possible.

For more information about opportunities to live, work and play in your RV, visit www.workampernews.com.

The National RV Training Academy’s one-week live training or home study course will teach you everything you need to know to fix about 80 percent of the problems people experience with their RVs.

You can also sign up for additional training to become an RV inspector, campground technician or to provide mobile RV service. For more information, visit www.nrvta.com.

Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is a former journalist who covered the recreation vehicle industry since 2009. He started podcasting in 2014 and enjoys interviewing people about ways to live, work and play in their RVs.

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