WWOOFing in an RV with kids

Is WWOOFing in an RV with kids a good idea? First things first, let’s clarify exactly what “WWOOFing” is. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. As described on their website,

Visitors, or ‘WWOOFers’, spend about half a day helping out on a host farm, learn about the organic movement and sustainable agriculture, and receive room and board during their visit – with no money exchanged between hosts and WWOOFers.

When Trent and I first sat down to creatively carve out an itinerary for our trip, WWOOFing was a strong contender that we wanted to consider. We were intrigued by the potential possibilities that this kind of arrangement could offer us, particularly for our children. We liked the idea of exposing them to lifestyles that we have not had and opportunities for work that have not previously been an option. Free food and a place to park our RV would also be a helpful bonus.

WWOOFing in an rv with kids:
first impressions

Last week Sunday we arrived at our first WWOOFing location nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains entirely unsure what we were in for and hopeful that we would have a positive experience. Right out of the gate, we realized that our first error was assuming that because this ranch had RV hookups, they would also be in a location that was easy to access with our 40’ 5th wheel. I slowly followed behind my husband as he turned off the main road and inched along a narrow drive. Lined with beautiful deciduous trees bursting with color and threatening to baptize our home with branches, the one-lane road wound slowly toward our destination. With each turn I winced inwardly hoping he would not come to a low overpass or narrow bridge that would end our progress forward.

Thankfully, we had been advised to arrive in daylight and the road finally opened up to our destination. Upon our arrival, our WWOOFing hosts exclaimed, “You just pulled that RV down that road? I am so sorry; we had no idea your RV was that big. We would have advised a different route had we known that!” Lesson learned: give more details about the size of our RV before assuming that it will be a perfect fit.

Our little home tucked into the foothills of the Smokey Mountains
Our little home tucked into the foothills of the Smokey Mountains

The upside to having a rough entry road for a remote ranch is fewer neighbors. For the first 6 days of our stay, only one little Class C motor home (another WWOOFing couple) shared our view. One additional pull behind RV arrived at the very end of our stay. Being in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains with this fall backdrop right outside our front door was an intense treat. Having so much breathing room around us was an extra bonus.

unfettered room to roam
unfettered room to roam

Our second erroneous assumption was that we would be the only WWOOFers during the duration of our stay. In reality we shared the week with five other WWOOFers. Three of them were young single men and the other two were the before mentioned motor home couple. We were the only WWOOFers with kids, but we enjoyed the mix of consistent workers throughout the week. After a month of consistent traveling, getting to interact with the same group of people each day as we worked was nice. Everyone treated our kids with kindness with some even going so far as to let our kids borrow personal art supplies, play their guitar, share a saddle on a their horse and letting the kids help with cooking projects in the kitchen. We appreciated the willingness to let our kids participate whenever there was interest or opportunity.

WWOOFing in an rv with kids:
The upsides


The community feel created by the mix of WWOOFers seemed like a strange college déjà vu. We would all sleep in our own rooms at night but then see the same non-family faces for breakfast, lunch and dinner while also intermingling for work and downtime. Cooking, washing dishes and working next to others day after day creates a unique environment to visit and learn from each other and certainly makes what could be a menial task more interesting.

Learning to make wontons
Ashlyn learning to make wontons

Aside from the other WWOOFers, our hosts displayed an incredible aptitude for encouraging learning throughout the week. Want to learn to drive a tractor? No problem! Want your son to learn to drive a zero-turn mower? Sure! Would you like to use our horses to go trail riding with your kids? Absolutely! It was obvious that their intent was to share the experience of their ranch to anyone who was interested in receiving it.


This particular location offered cabin or lodge room rentals, RV hookups, and room for horse trailers throughout the week, as well as a café that operated on the weekends. Having a professional, well-stocked kitchen was ideal for feeding our WWOOFing group. I’ve enjoyed our little RV kitchen much more than I thought I would, but having free rein to cook in a large space again was a real treat. In addition to having space to cook, having no food costs for the duration of our stay was a huge benefit.

trail riding
Getting ready to go trail riding
RV Lodging:

It is my understanding that while many “RV friendly” WWOOFing locations may be able to provide electricity and water, having sewer hookups is not common. In light of that, having full hookups with sewer was also wonderful.

impromptu concert
Quinten and Tanner enjoying an impromptu concert

Despite the fact that we were the only WWOOFing family with kids, our hosts did have children. Each weekday after their kids returned from school, our kids had the chance to interact, play cards, chess, soccer and tag with new friends.

First time driving a zero turn lawnmower
First time driving a zero turn lawnmower
Kid’s work:

We appreciated that our kids could participate in several jobs around the ranch. This was after all, the primary reason that we opted to WWOOF. It was also something we discussed specifically on the phone with one of our hosts before coming.

wwoofing in an rv with kids:
The downsides


Obviously it is understood that the intent of the WWOOFing arrangement is to trade labor for learning, room and board and (depending on the location) food. Exactly what you may be asked to do may or may not be something that appeals to you. In addition, the schedule of your day may vary from one day to the next.

Because we only stayed for a week, we decided to let the experience take precedence whenever we had a conflict with school. This meant that we did school in the morning on some days and in the afternoons on others. Some mornings we got up earlier than typical. Some days we worked late into the evening pushing the kid’s bedtime out farther than typical.

Flexibility is important and something we worked to maintain. However, almost every night of our stay Trent and I went to sleep very tired and I believe that juggling our family needs with work needs with an ever-changing schedule played into that. We could have set school aside for the week of our stay but because we have had so many travel days packed into our last month (and we opt not to do school on travel days), we chose to work school into our routine this week despite the extra business it would create.


Internet service for us in our RV was dependent on what we could get through our phones. However, in the café area we were able to connect to the local Wi-Fi. It would have been nice to have access to this Wi-Fi in our RV because we had almost used up our monthly data when we had arrived. I imagine that this would vary at each WWOOFing location. If internet is important for your work or school, be sure to clarify this before arrival. Thankfully for us it wasn’t essential.

wwoofing in an rv with kids:
The work we did

Some of the jobs that the kids helped out with included:

  • Watering plants
  • Washing dishes
  • Food prep
  • Breaking down boxes for recycling
  • Cooking
  • Lawn mowing
  • Assisting with building projects
  • Cleaning a hot tub

Jobs that I did included:

  • Meal prep, planning and cooking
  • Washing dishes
  • Kitchen cleanup
  • Organizing the laundry room with labels

Jobs that Trent did included:

  • Fixing leaking toilets
  • Helping with the initial construction of an outdoor pavilion
  • Weed whacking
  • Hot tub cleaning
  • Dish washing

WWOOFing in an RV with kids:
other details

  • Food: you may or may not have food included in your arrangement as that varies from location to location. Exactly what benefits are included are typically defined in the profile of each host on the WWOOF.org website. If you have special diet needs (vegan, vegetarian, etc) this may limit how may “matches” show up as options for you when you search for potential farms but there are filters for those diet requests. Some locations may cook meals for you, while others simply provide ingredients and expect you to cook for yourself.
  • Hours: While the WWOOFing website says you can expect to spend “about a half a day” working, this varies from location to location as well. As I read though different farm profiles, I noticed some expecting as many as 6-8 hours of work while others were much more laid back. Some expect work on certain days of the week with specific days off, while others may have lots of work on one day and little to none the next day.

wwoofing in an rv with kids:
Final thoughts

As a family traveling in an RV, we do not fit the typical demographic in the WWOOFing community. Our host said that we are the first WWOOFing family they have had in the three years they have been a part of the WWOOFing program. However, the WWOOF.org website does have filters allowing you to specify that you only want to be shown farms that allow RVs and farms that allow families with kids. (There is also a filter for those that have pets as well as filters for how long you wish to stay at a location).

WWOOFing in an RV with kids

As a RV WWOOFing couple with kids, we tried to clarify through our initial phone call “interview” that my husband would be doing most of the regular work and that the kids and I would be available to help out once school work was completed. I think it is important to decide ahead of time what your family is comfortable offering in terms of work and hours. Be sure to discuss this ahead of time with your potential host. This will help ensure that everyone has similar expectations.

We like having flexibility in our schedule and freedom in our days. Therefore, I don’t see us WWOOFing frequently or for long durations of time. However, we did have a very positive first experience. We are be open to WWOOFing again. Particularly if the location or farm is unique and offers something we want to learn. It is the people and the experiences that create the unique memories that make this lifestyle rich and rewarding. Because of the people and the experiences gained, our first experience WWOOFing in an RV with kids was a success.

Are considering WWOOFing in an RV with kids? I hope hearing about our experience will help you decide if this might be a good fit for you.

When a RV fire is fun

Maybe you remember that time I recently stepped outside the RV and was met with the sight of a blazing fire licking the sky from the rooftop of a neighboring motorhome.

I rushed over to assess the situation and offered a consoling hug to the lady dressed in a teal robe who had just exited her flaming fortress. While we stood together in the dark evening, faces illuminated by the glow of her burning rig, all I could do was whisper, “I am so very sorry” over and over to her. It was a crazy, crazy thing to witness and it has been permanently burned into my memory.

Later that evening, after the firetrucks had come and gone and we were tucking our kids back into their beds, I thought to myself, “We need to plan a day to have a RV fire drill.”

Kids going out the exit windowThis week was the week for said drill. If you could have sat with us in the RV while we talked about how to safely exit the RV in the event of a fire, you would have felt the excitement. When we closed all the window shades and told the kids to crawl into their beds and pretend to go to sleep, they were giddy with anticipation. After they each had a turn to exit the escape windows and pretend to be the fire and mimic using the fire extinguisher, I was stifling giggles at how much fun the kids were having. I literally heard our youngest say that he wished we could have a real fire so we could have more fun like this again. Aaaaand that’s when I feared he’d somehow missed the entire point.

RV fire drill

why visiting the Ingalls Homestead is now a favorite memory

Last Saturday was a perfect day. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was one of my favorite days.

We awoke at our leisure and took our time moving through our morning routines. Outside the RV new views greeted us through our tinted windows–this time a city park complete with playground equipment anxiously awaiting our children’s giggles and grins. After packing our lunches we piled into the van and took the short drive to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in the town of De Smet, SD (which was the setting of her books By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years). We arrived around noon and began exploring the quarter section of land which is privately owned and operated as a hands-on living history experience.

sod homeStepping into a sod house and shanty we were able to learn about the differences in how or why these two homes were built as well as the pros and cons of each.

driving the horses

From there the kids took turns driving a covered wagon and visiting a one-room school house where a teacher gave us a feel for a some of the history and examples of lessons and activities.

bad boy in class
Trent demonstrating how children might be disciplined for bad behavior


Afterward, the kids each took turns riding a horse or pony before seeing a demonstration of how hay was twisted into sticks for fuel to burn (as told in The Long Winter).

pony ride on the ingalls homestead

Next, the kids were able to use a hand-held wheat grinder to grind wheat into flour, shell an ear of corn with an old fashioned corn sheller and use fabric to turn their corn husk into a corn cob doll (just like Laura once had).

making a corn cob doll


A homemade jumprope made from bailing twine was constructed by each child using a hand crank machine used at the end of the 20th century.

making a homemade jump rope
making a homemade jump rope

Need to go potty? An outhouse with side-by-side seats is available. One of my children decided to make use of this opportunity and said the door was almost fully closed when latched. No sooner had he sat down, when visitors came by to see the authentic little john. “Occupied!” he hollered hoping no one would be able to see through the crack in the door.

Ingalls Homestead washing clothes

Nearby a washboard, rinse station, and wringer awaited my children’s curiosity and soon they were practicing washing hand towels and hanging them to dry on the line. After they had perfected their technique, Hunter asked if he could wash is own shirt. “Why not?” I responded. Soon, all three boys were grinning, shirtless and elbow-deep in wash water.

Once their clothing was flapping in the breeze on the clothes line they discovered the water pump. This provided more timeless entertainment and gayety.

Ingalls Homestead Water Pump fun

We had intended to leave by mid-afternoon however, around wash time we realized that the fun had only just begun and decided to cancel our travel plans for the day and just be.

ingalls homestead water pump

It was at that moment that the day became my favorite. A perfect combination of adventure, new experiences, learning, curiosity and fun minus a rushed schedule. This was when I first tasted the freedom of this new lifestyle. Granted, we always have the power to take control of our day but how often do we let our day control us? On September 10th we controlled our schedule and I’ll remember the image of my kids pumping water while Trent and Hunter laid on the grass looking at the clouds for a long time to come.

*Affiliate links were used for the Little House books on Amazon.

the best habit I’ve developed this year

Quick: what is the most useful habit you have developed this year?

No seriously, what comes to mind, anything?

If so, please share with me in the comments below because I am going to give you mine and it’s really good!

The life altering habit that I am going to share with you should take less than an hour to put in place and less than 5 min a day to implement. However, the pay off is huge! Ready to find out what it is? Let’s go. . .

Scripture memorization (or memorization of any kind) can be difficult and tedious unless you have a plan in place and approach it from a perspective of slow and steady winning the race. Here is the most pain-free method to memorize that I’ve found:

My 7 year old listening to his playlist

Continue reading “the best habit I’ve developed this year”

snack shop

Most habits and routines in our home are intentional and planned, but the snack shop was not.  It started out as a fun hands-on one time math lesson for Hunter almost a year ago.  I gave him a dollar and a homemade menu and he purchased his snack(s) for the morning while we discussed coin values and making change. He enjoyed it more than I anticipated and requested that we repeat the routine the next day.  A weekend came and went and both of us forgot about the fun snack shop until a month or two ago when he looked at me with eyes laced with hints of nostalgia and said, “mom, can we do the snack shop again?”

As I thought about it, I realized the snack shop could be a really fun and educational routine in our home.  We began doing it almost every morning between 10:00am and 11:00am. Here is how it works: Using a container of loose change to hold my coins, I “pay” my older two kids (9 and 11) $1.00 and my younger two (3 and 5) 0.10.  The menu is written up on a small white board and changes periodically based on the availability of the items listed.  For my menu items, I stick to basic things that I almost always have on hand and foods that are quick and easy.  I have two columns of prices, one for the older kids and one for the younger kids.  I have a variety of price ranges for the older kids to allow them the opportunity to use different coin values. I often price anything sugary higher than the healthy options and limit the purchases to one.

I began by giving my younger boys ten pennies (counting them out loud) and stuck with that until they were very familiar with the routine.  Later I began giving my 5 year old his pennies two at a time so we could practice counting by twos allowing my 3 year old to listen in and learn as well.  Recently I introduced the dime to my younger two.  I give them a dime and then they trade it in for 10 pennies and then begin to make their purchases. I plan to continue with the dime concept for another month or so until I feel they really have the idea solidified in their mind that one dime is equal to ten pennies.  After that, I will give them two nickels and we will trade those in for ten pennies and then later I will give them one dime which we will trade for 2 nickels which will then be traded for 10 pennies. Continue reading “snack shop”