Have you ever traveled to a family reunion to meet a part of your family you’ve never met? Distant cousins, aunts, and uncles that have always lived in a different part of the country or the world?
It takes a bit of gumption and some resources, both financial and emotional, to take that trip. Maybe some of your immediate family is all for attending, perhaps other members of your family think you’re crazy. You’re putting yourself out there, leaping into the unknown and unexpected. Why? Most likely you’re looking forward to the connection. Hoping to find out more about the people in your family. Maybe it’s simply a good excuse to travel!
When you arrive, some family members are approaching the event with trepidation. Other’s are exuberantly giving out hugs simply because you’re family, even if you’ve never met.
As the reunion gets underway, you find that you have family who love the same food, enjoy the same music, and have the same adventurous spirit that got you heading to make the reunion happen in the first place.
You meet other family members that are polar opposites, but that also makes them fascinating and lovable because they think about things differently and you have riveting conversations about how they live in their neck of the woods.
A Road Family
We lovingly call our Fulltime Families friends our Road Family. They are all unique and bring different skill sets, ideas, and personalities to the table. We are all different, but have much in common – every bit like the family. Making an effort to meet as many family members as possible has greatly enriched our lives and made this ‘hey, what if we traveled full time’ into something sustainable. We are in this together. Being a part of this unique culture gives us a sense of community and creates a neighborhood feel for our children, and for us, wherever we go.
This year’s very first West Coast Family Reunion was every bit like heading into the unknown to meet up with family members you’ve never met! 70% of the families in attendance were new to rallies and many of those were also new to Fulltime Families. How awesome is that?
Based on the introductions at the Moms Night In event, I’d say the majority of the group had been full-time living for 9 months or less. What an epic way to start your journey. It all kind of had me feeling like the grandma!
Our family has been on the road for just over 3 years and I remember our first rally back in January of 2018 being very similar: no idea what to expect, but so excited to find our tribe. And find our tribe we did!
Attending that rally created lifelong friendships and we have been traveling with several of those families off and on since then! We’ve shared campfires, birthdays, and even major holidays like thanksgiving and Christmas. If we find out they are in ‘within traveling distance’ we reroute to catch up and spend time with them.
You know what else we took away? The ability to gather more family members along the way. We knew how much participating in that rally meant to us and we were on a mission to bring more Fulltime Families along for the ride.
How incredible to find a group that doesn’t require us to justify selling our homes and simplifying our lives to live out a bit of adventure? Belonging to a group that didn’t call us homeless, or crazy, or bad parents because we chose a life that looks different that the ‘norm’ was so refreshing. And it’s just gotten better the more family we meet on the road.
The group of families at the SW Family Reunion were so fun, so engaging, and so supportive of one another. It was heartwarming hearing moms connect over how to set up a play space in their RVs or creative ways to school on the road, or how to keep their older children engaged with their friends as they travel. It gave the dads a chance to discuss the optimal grilling solution, share internet solutions for working on the road, and campfire coffee talks that most likely included whiskey and dad jokes. (Though this is purely speculation, since I wasn’t there.)
I love watching the kids playing and laughing, working through projects as a team, and kids getting to be kids in a time when play and fun are undervalued. It was a beautiful thing.
Rally Activities and Community
Our kids are teenagers, so that is where I was most focused when observing activities. All I can say about that group is wonderful! What an amazing bunch of caring, respectful young adults were there.
Nearly every night they would gather and play games like musical chairs (which is hysterical when they get to that age), Would You Rather, board games, card games, and even made use of the Lincoln Logs in the game room for building.
Many kudos were received from the staff because of their helpful and respectful behavior. In fact, across all age groups I saw individuals working together, encouraging one another, and all out having a good time.
The moms and dads that jumped in to volunteer, read books, set up tables, gather kids for activities, clean up afterwards, and organize food were invaluable and greatly appreciated.
People opened their homes to share RV living solutions, others took on game nights for the teens or brought food to the potlucks that inspired us to try new things.
The Talent Show
One of the most impactful examples of family and being there for one another was at the talent show. One young lady bravely came up to the front to do a dance routine. At the beginning she slipped on some gravel and took a fall. I’m certain it probably hurt a bit, but the biggest impact for her was the embarrassment. It was fairly early in the program and we hoped she would try again.
At nearly the very end of the evening the girl came back up, this time with a friend. Apparently one of the other girls had offered to go up there with her and while the talent show had been going on they created a new song and dance routine. They were all smiles and had a great time. It makes me teary just thinking about what an incredible show of friendship that was, all between two girls that had never met before that week!
The Kids Marketplace
Then there was the kids marketplace. Y’all, can we just pause a minute for some clapping? That marketplace was epic! So many creative entrepreneurs participated in the event!
I loved it! The kids marketplace is probably one of my favorite events at a rally. The energy and excitement from the kids, the opportunity to shop, and watching the kids light up when you stop to visit with them and ask them about their table.
Some offered services like dog waking, custom art, and rubix cube lessons. Others sold their crafts based on skill sets such as sewing, crocheting, tie dye, henna art, homemade games, paper airplane making, and face painting. With the abundance of lemons in the park, much lemonade was to be had, along with ice cream sundaes, milk shakes, otter pops, baked goods, sunbutter cups, and elderberry syrups.
Next rally I need to up my kids marketplace spending budget!
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a member of Full-time Families and that we had the pleasure of taking part in the Southwest Family Reunion Rally. We met a multitude of fantastic families I can’t wait to share a campfire with again.
I hope to see you all down the road and highly encourage you in invest the time in attending the next in person rally! We’re all going to need that when this social distancing is over. Even us introverts.
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