June 25, 2024




We had a five-year plan. We dreamed of the day we could sell it all and hit the road––and then 2020 happened. Like everyone else, we adapted to changing circumstances, staying sane by spending time at Maryland’s South Mountain State Park to get some fresh air. We loved the challenging hike that ended at the top of a waterfall, where we’d swim before heading back home. But when our local state parks began closing and being out in nature wasn’t an option anymore, we all became restless. So, we decided to fast track our plans and dive into RVing for an extensive period of time.


We sat down with our girls, Rosie and Ila, and discussed the plan thoroughly. At 10 and 5 years old, we knew they could handle it despite the gap between their ages. Their biggest concern was letting go of a significant number of toys from their enormous collection, but we promised to make up for it in new experiences. No more would we have to wait for the weekend, or for Cody to have a day off in order to spend time as a family. No keeping ourselves busy for six days out of the week, waiting for our precious 12 hours of dedicated family time on that seventh day. We could just be a family, together, every day. That’s what sold the girls, and every day after that they asked, “When can we buy the RV?”

As we transitioned to homeschooling, the girls began picking out states to visit, and we would learn about it for the week. They would find things they wanted to try in each state we researched, and as their checklists grew, so did their excitement.

Setting Out on an Adventure

We finally hit the road in November 2020, just in time for the holidays. Our first stop was to see family in Maryland. The girls were excited to travel in the RV while they got to spend the holidays with family we’d been missing. We worried about how the girls would react to a small Christmas, especially since they had just recently donated so many of their toys, but we underestimated them. They embrace our small Christmas, showing us that they truly understood the lifestyle changes we were making. By the time January rolled around, we were all acclimated to the RV and ready for a warmer adventure. 

We headed to Charleston, South Carolina, where we stayed at the beautiful James Island County Park. It was close to the city and they had so many great amenities, including a rock-climbing wall. When we first encountered the wall, we had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t think Rosie and Ila would care about it too much––Rosie in particular was such a quiet, reserved kid who was naturally cautious. She was not into any kind of activity that would get her adrenaline pumping. Ila is a bit more adventurous. She’s a full-speed, talkative kid who makes friends everywhere we go. Neither of them had ever tried climbing before.

A New Challenge

Rosie tried the wall first. She didn’t get very far, but we were so proud of her for trying something outside her comfort zone. We kept encouraging her to try again and reach for one hold higher each time. Meanwhile, Ila was having more fun coming down on the auto-belays than actually climbing. Suddenly, Rosie had worked her way halfway up a 50-foot wall, and she began to panic. We helped her get down to earth and calmed her, making sure she was okay before taking a stab at climbing ourselves. And then Ila did the same thing––she had gotten halfway up the wall and looked down, causing her to lock up with nerves. Flying down the auto-belay didn’t seem like much fun anymore. Once we got her back on the ground, we thought, “Well, maybe we can try again when they’re a little older,” assuming they had written it off entirely.

But when we said it was time to go, Rosie said she wasn’t leaving yet. She was so firm, it caught us both off guard! We had never heard her use that tone before, and we were both curious about what was happening in her mind. So, we said, okay, we’ll stay a bit longer.

On her next climb, we met a totally different Rosie. Still red-eyed from her earlier cry, she climbed the wall and kept pushing herself higher. We have no idea what clicked in her mind, but we were watching our timid child come out of her shell in real time. Not to be outdone, Ila was right beside her, like always, trying her best to keep up. If her big sister can do something, Ila knows she can do it, too.

They didn’t make it to the top that day. We finally had to call it quits because it was obvious they were losing steam. The girls skipped all the way back to the RV, hyping each other up and begging to go back the next day. Rosie had tears in her eyes because she was so proud of herself, and she said we had to go back because she wanted to get to the top before we left. And Ila had finally found an activity that could keep her attention while teaching her to slow down and think before acting, even as it burned off some of her boundless energy. We knew then that climbing was our new thing.


The next day, before we left, we went back to the wall. Rosie pushed herself and climbed all the way to the top. We wanted to see that look on her face all the time. So everywhere we’ve gone since that day, we’ve made it a point to be near a rock-climbing gym. As a family, we set our next goal: climbing outdoors. And little by little, we’ve been working toward it.

Without our RV experience, we wouldn’t have started to climb, and climbing has changed us all for the better. Ila is more independent, no longer content with being the little kid who always needs Mom, Dad or Rosie by her side. Rosie’s newfound confidence in herself has changed her in every way. She no longer approaches things with fear, because she’s sure in her abilities. She even taught herself to swim without any help at all! As a disabled Marine Corps veteran, Cody has finally found a physical activity that strengthens his body rather than causing him more pain. And I'm able to be fully present and enjoy my family while we all grow stronger together.

With a lifestyle and a hobby that brings us all together and makes us the best possible version of ourselves, who needs an enormous collection of toys? We’ve got everything important right here.

The Robersons RV in a 2021 Jayco Eagle travel trailer.


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