The Family Adventure Summit

So, back in May, on a hard-to-get-to beach in Mexico, we met the coolest couple, the Duvals.  They have lived in their off roading van (a very tricked out Sportsmobile) with their two small children for the last three years.  I spied them on the beach one morning.  I whipped out the binoculars, saw kids and a van where no vehicle should easily get to and I said “We are meeting those people!”

While getting to know them, they told us about a conference for traveling families happening in Penticton, BC.  Now, hearing the name of a familiar small town in beautiful BC uttered on a deserted beach in Mexico by a cool traveling family…  Add to this that it was about a family travel conference (that is a thing?) happening in said town while we needed to be there anyway… Well, it felt a little like what Barbara Vawter calls  “A God thing”.  So we took it as a sign.

From my sister’s house in Whitefish Montana we trucked north toward Penticton, BC to attend the very first ever Family Adventure Summit.

The beach at the hotel where the Summit was held… Penticton is the Daytona Beach of BC.

I will confess that Cameron and I were a tad skeptical.  When I saw “Drum Circle” as the second activity and the “Un-conference” as part of the schedule, we were a tiny bit concerned it might lack substance and organization.

Our prejudices were found to be totally and utterly unfounded.  The highlights of the whole thing were definitely the drum circle and the un-conference!  Well, there were lots of highlights, but the drum circle was truly awesome.  After an energizing introduction we all filed into the large kid’s room and proceeded to participate in a huge drum circle with an instructor who, in a matter of an effortless 10 seconds, had us all making music together with 50+ percussion instruments that he had brought.  The kids were excited and energized and had no problem staying when it was time for the parents to reluctantly leave.

The whole conference was a mix between education, networking and inspiration.  It was very well organized and extremely professional.

The “Kid’s Room” during a demonstration of Native American Dance.


Our “walks” to and from the hotel and our RV park consisted of lots of dragging the girls on their skateboards along the waterfront.

What is an un-conference?  During one afternoon session, participants announced their topic of interest or knowledge;  Kids and Devices, Engaging Teens, Minimalism, Traveling by Boat, Popup Communities, Staying Fit on the Road and many more. These topics were then posted to locations with small group seating already set up.  It was fast, efficient and spurred lots of great conversations as well as naturally building connections between people with similar interests.

The kids program was absolutely amazing.  There were tons of activities from geo caching, rock climbing, face painting, yoga, music classes, an open art studio and down time couches.  The girls had a fabulous time making new friends and spent most of their time in the art studio.

The topics for the conference covered a wide range; how to create and promote online businesses, logistics of long term travel, world schooling, photography lessons for travel bloggers, marketing your skills online, nurturing art in education to name only a few.  The biggest problem I had was deciding what talk to join in on.

The girls and the Duval’s kids showing off their henna tattoos. These four became pretty good buddies.

I think the best part was the community of people.  So many mothers that I would have LOVED to spend more time with, learn from and be mentored by.  The way the families interacted with each other was so respectful and healthy.  You could tell that these were people who really value their family relationships.

Almost all the speakers were very engaging, experienced, inspiring and gave solid, useful nuggets of applicable info.  I got tons of tidbits that I’m still chewing on or are on my to-do list.

The conference was small, on the order of about 50 families.  There were a mix of huge families who have been traveling internationally for decades to small families just investigating the lifestyle.  There were people who travel for a few months every year internationally, people who biked across continents with their families, people who RV around the US, Mexico and Canada, people who live part time in Mexico, Bali or any number of other countries around the world.  For us, the best part was the community.  The open hearted, generous, curious people who were around us every day.  It was definitely a “meet your tribe” moment.  Incidentally, we were the only family there who live on a sailboat full time.. when we are not on our RV:)  We were rapidly branded as the sailing family, a label we wore happily.


Some Dads hanging around the Duval’s rig.


A few mom’s discussing food on the road


The RV Park contingent from the Summit.

During the conference they announced that they are already planning the second Family Adventure Summit.  It will be held in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico next year in November.  It will be held around the celebration of the Day of the Dead, an awesome time to be in Mexico for cultural festivities.  72% of the families who attended the conference have already signed up for 2018!  Cameron and I kinda wish we could be there, but we should be in New Zealand by that time, so, we wish them all the best and are so grateful to have been able to be a part of such an educational, inspirational and community building event.

Here are a few links from some of my favorite speakers, a few videos done by the organizers and info on signing up for next year… just incase you want to join in!

Some Fun Links:

A Video Interview of Cameron and I at the Conference

2018 Family Adventure Summit Signup

A few great speakers and resources:

Greg Denning

The Sundance Family

Nomads Together


  1. Doug Vawter says:

    Great post!!! Loved the pictures and your interview. In the picture of the RV park families, I was surprised with Isa’s hair length —- both girls are changing and becoming young adults. Keep hugging them!! Mimi loved Adelaide’s video of her playing the Uke. God Bless! Mimi and Gramps

  2. Anne, I just re-read this post again about FAS. Such beautiful memories! Thank you for sharing them here. I love it when things come together so synchronistically, like your family meeting the Duval family, and how everything aligned to provide the opportunity to have you in attendance with us at the summit. We certainly look forward to seeing you again somewhere in the world! I just finished reading your post about your time in Utah. Such breathtaking photos! I’m also really impressed by the beautiful sketchbook artwork. So glad you were able to fit in some skiing time too, with lessons even! Congratulations on selling the RV, and I look forward to reading about your upcoming boating adventures. 🙂

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      So good to hear from you! It is amazing how it all gets connected, isn’t it? Good luck on the Next Family Adventure Summit! We wish we could join again. If we were in the Americas we would make it a priority for sure.
      All the Best

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