Sunday, February 8, 2009

Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering 2009

Yes! I finally have all of the pictures I wanted uploaded onto this post uploaded!! Since blogger only allows you to upload 5 at once, I've literally been uploading for hours. Hey, you guys asked for lots of pictures, right? ;-) They're in chronalogical order, and that's how I'll tell about our trip as well!

My mom, sister, and I started out towards Ohio Sunday, the 1st of February. We entered New York, and ended up staying in Buffalo.

When I saw this truck at night, I just loved it for some reason! My mom was nice enough to stop the car so I could get a good shot. :-P
We arrived in Buffalo fairly early, around 8:30ish pm, I think. We ate supper, then attempted to find a hotel. And that's where the difficulty started. The first one we tried was filthy (like really ew), and then the next half dozed or so were scented. Since both Emi and my mom are allergic to synthetic scents, it's really hard to find places that don't use stuff like Febreeze (which is really bad for everyone by the way, regardless of allergies), we have to try LOTS of hotels before we find one that we can actually stay in. Finally, at 11:30 pm, and after getting lost several times, we were stressed out, exhausted, and nearly in tears, when we finally (finally!) found a non sweet smelling hotel! Woo hoo! I took this pic the next morning.
The hotel gave us some coupons for a restaurant across the street, so we ate there the next morning. It was a really nice homestyle, large portion serving, place, with a really sweet waitress to boot.
We then passed through Pennsylvania.
It was a beautiful sunny day...

And it got steadily warmer the further we went. It was like driving into spring.
We were totally comfortable walking around outside in just our sweatshirts, which is certainly not something you can do in Montreal in February!
The Ohio welcome center was awesome.

Passing through Cleveland, we spotted this gorgeous building. I love it!
The car door handle just suddenly seemed really photographable...
And we made it there! Finally! It's about ten hours of straight driving, but with the amount of stops we make, it took us much longer.
We arrived at the Kalahari resort, where the UWWG was being held, on Monday the 2nd of February. That night, we were all really tired and spastic. Emi and I went down to the conference center, where everything was being held, for the Winter carnival, but we just felt out of place. I met a couple of people I knew from camp, but overall the carnival was really just for young kids, and all of the teens seemed to have come with their friends. I think we both, in our exhausted depression, decided that we'd have an awfuk time. Luckily, we were wrong!
The next day I woke up and started bouncing around excitedly trying to get my family to go down to the Waterpark with me. Mum was busy, so Emi and I went down. It's an all inclusive resort, so the waterpark, rooms, restaurants, convention center, and spa are all accessible without ever leaving trhe building! Emi originally didn't want to go in the wave pool, or on the slides, since the last time she'd been to a waterpark she was about 8 and it terrified her! However, as soon as she saw that there were tubes for the wave pool, she decided she's try it, and we both had a blast! After that, we tried several slides, which were all extremely awesome!

We wandered down to the conference center after that, and were hailed by a whole group of teens sitting around on couches, including a couple of people I know from camp. They were crazy, chaotic, and very friendly! After everyone split for food, we hung out in the hotel room for a bit...

But when the cleaning staff came to clean our room, we headed back down and met up with people again. They started a crazy girls against guys truth or dare game (I say "they" because I wasn't playing, just taking pictures :-P).
EWW! It got far worse even than that, sadly... :-P
"Why am I not on the cool fish list??"
These lights were on the ceiling of the auditorium/ballroom/really big room, and I just loved them!
I took lots of pictures of the first talent show (it was on Tuesday, I believe), but most were blurry! This little girl was just SO CUTE! She sung a song, and danced along to it too. :-)
The outdoor hot tub was awesome.
This guy was insane. Nice, but insane. ;-P
My mom took a belly dancing class on Wednesday. I took pictures. :-)
The lovely and very talented instructor. It was truly awesome watching her dance.
The endless ghallway that our room was on... The Kalahari resort is the largest hotel in Ohio with over 800 rooms, and also bosts the largest indoor waterpark in North America.
Wedensday night, hanging out in the empty, dark, grand ballroom. They played spin the bottle, we ran foot races, and some people started playing football. Emi just sat on this lion statue. :-P
The view from the windows overlooking the waterpark. A whole bunch of it is cut off at the left edge of this shot...

There were two elevaters that brought us from our room to the lobby. One we named Otis, the other George. George was cooler, because he had a heart on his floor.
Thursday, lying around in people piles. I loved watching these two (adorable little kid and Ben) interact. They just get along so well!
Group shot! Missing a few people that were part of this hangout group, but there's a lot of them here!

Riding the luggage carts was a popular pastime!

Paris Hilton ;-)
Crazy, chaotic, insane, elevator rides.
Such a cute picture! I love how much hugging and cuddling goes on at unschooling gatherings.

This was hanging around at the ball on Thursday night, our last night there. That is a petty intense look, although I have no clue what it's about! :-P
Emi doesn't like this picture, but I do!
Aww :-)
The ball!

Crazy headbanging.

Emi and Max looking lovely.
Swirling lights...
Nate doing a funny pose.

The woman who did the belly dancing class let people borow her coin scarves for the dance. Mum LOVED it and wants one of he own now!

Scattered shoes...
This little guy made friends with a couple of the teens, and was planning on sleeping over with them on Thursday night. However, his parents were leaving halfway through the ball. He was so sad! :-( He gave his shirt, which had earned him his nickname Checkers, to the guy he's made best friends with. :-)
More dancing...
Myself in a mirror.
The next, and final, morning at Kalahari. I realized I hadn't really taken pictures around the lobby, so I did. The tackyness pissed me off a lot to start with, but by the last day I'd pretty much gotten used to it. :-P

The Candy Shack
More waterpark shots through the windows.
"African" (we're not so sure about it's authenticity ;-)) decor.

People, getting ready to say good bye.
Jack and Emi.
All the group, or at least those who hadn't left yet.
Bethany, the girl in this pic, did an awesome workshop at one point on raw foods. She has a fascinating story (of how she used raw foods to heal herself), and you can check out her blog here. I'm sad that I only really got to talk to her and her mother on the last day! That whole family seems really cool. The three siblings that were there are pictured below. Emi and Timmeh (the bigger brother!) spent the last sleepover night talking, and Emi only got about two hours of sleep!
Jane and Tristram are so cute together! I met both of them at camp.
Their expressions are just made of awesomeness.
We stayed so long talking to people that by the time we got going it was three in the afternoon!

These swans were in a pond just outside of the Kalahari's main doors. I love ducks, swans, and similar birds. :-)
Pretty ice.
The bridge that connected the Kalahari building to the parking lot.
We only got as far as Buffalo again going back on Friday, so we stayed at the same hotel as last time. In the morning, on Saturday, we were up bright and early for the long drive.
Oil is such a fascinating contradiction. Beautiful, yet awful.
It was a good trip, even if the traveling bit coming home was stressful as hell. We were all really tired! But it's always nice seeing other unschoolers. There weren't all that many people my age, and out of the few that were there many seemed rather cliquey, but I still met some really cool people. There's this guy, Eli Gerzon, who's doing world travel tours for unschoolers. Emi was originally interested in the Japan tour, but since she always envisioned going to Japan in a few years, she's not sure if she wants to go as soon as November. Either way, Eli was a very interesting person to talk to, and I look forward with interest to any future trips he plans.

There were also several interesting workshops. I already mentioned the raw foods one briefly, but what I didn't mention was that there was actually food to try! I was rather suspicious of it at first, but the ONLY thing I didn't like was the guacomole, and that's just because I never like guacomole! I also caught the tail end of a talk on radical unschooling by Kelly Lovejoy, which made me sad, but what I did hear was very interesting, and my mom was there for the whole workshop and really felt that she got a lot out of it.

I'd love to catch up on all of the blogs I'm following, but since I follow about 40, I just can't! Because of that, please don't be insulted if I usually comment, yet don't this time! :-S

I'm still looking for unschooling articles for Homeschooling Horizons, and I'd be much obliged (and very happy) if you'd be interested in that!



  1. That is awesome Idzie! Glad it went so well. I totally understand the cliquey teens thing though. It happens even with unschoolers. *sigh*


  2. Yay, you're back!!!!! I've really missed reading your blog over the past week! The gathering looks AWESOME and I'm kinda bummed that I couldn't go...I've never really been to any of those big unschooling events before, but I really want to! Especially after reading this! Ah well, the day shall come eventually.

    It's kinda late, so if this doesn't make sense in the morning, I'm very sorry :P

    Anyway, YAY! You're back!!!

  3. Sheila: yeah... Less at camp than conventions though, it seems. And still, luckily, FAR less cliquey than with traditionally schooled kids!

    Stella: This was my first convention! Or should I say our first one. I've been to camp at least, but for my mom and sister, this is the first time they've been to an unschooling gathering!

    Thanks so much to all you guys! It makes me feel loved to know that I was missed. :-D

  4. Hey..just drop by to say thank you for reading my public speaking script. I really don't mind that you disagree with a few points but I'm not changing anything...hehe..I'm just too tired to change anything anymore..

    Rock On!!!

  5. I'm sorry this comment is late... really late lolz
    oh man... you are sooo lucky that you got to experience that! The whole gathering looked like so much fun and all the kids look really friendly and nice... it makes me kind of sad that I didn't go, but oh well. there's always next year ;D!
    anyways, I'm really happy that you and Emi had a blast there and I'm glad that you're back! =D

  6. Glad to hear that you had a good time. We're sad that we weren't able to make it this year...but maybe next year.

    We are going to the Northeast Unschooling Conference ( ) and the Unschooling Cruise ( ) later this year...any chance you guys are going to either?

  7. Hopefully you will make it next year!

    We're definitely not going on the cruise, but there's a possibility we'll be at the Northeast conference! After the UWWG, we decided that we need to get to at least one or two more conferences this year, so we've been looking into all of the ones near(ish) us. It would be great if we could see you there! :-D

  8. love your blog. wondering what made you sad about k. lovejoys session? I think shes great!

  9. Nancy: Thanks! :-) Oh, I didn't mean that her talk made me sad, just that I was sad that I missed most of her talk! I agree, she's great! :-D

  10. Hi! I found your blog while wandering around reading blogs from people who attended UWWG this year.

    My daughter Anna attended with friends of ours; she was in the group with Checkers (who is actually Rowan) and the little girl in the talent show with pink hair (who is Janie). I'm not sure if you met my daughter; Anna is eleven.

    Anyway, I just wanted to tell you I really enjoyed your photos! Your blog is wonderful, and I can't wait to read more.


  11. I am really late commenting here, but THANKS! I was not able to take my guys to attend, but I now have a mental picture of what it was all about! Very nice. I look forward to taking my young ones to a conference in the near future!

  12. Oops, I thought you were referring to Rowan as Checkers. Rowan is in the picture holding the shirt. Anna just set me straight. :)


  13. Jill: Haha, I was a bit confused when I read your first comment, but now I get it. :-D My sister hung out with Rowan a bunch, and I met pretty much everyone in that group. With all the nicknames and everyone running everywhere, I didn't get all the names straight, but I probably met her! *Waves at Anna* Thanks so much for checking out my blog, and I'm glad you like it! :-)

    Andrea: Awesome! :-D

  14. hello, i was at the gathering this year. I remember you from the talk with all the older Unschoolers who have "Moved on" Your mom told us how she would always read to you guys. anyway i just sumbled across your blog and think it's amazing. i'm Sarah by the way

  15. Sarah: Thanks so much! I'm glad you like my blog. :-)