homeschooling

A Homestead Built on Faith - Kip Smyth

The Smyth family of YouTube’s  1000’s of Roots  channel: Kip, Carrie, Caleb, Joshua, Nathan, Esther, Joseph, and Naomi Smyth. Photo credit:  1000’s of Roots .

The Smyth family of YouTube’s 1000’s of Roots channel: Kip, Carrie, Caleb, Joshua, Nathan, Esther, Joseph, and Naomi Smyth. Photo credit: 1000’s of Roots.

I was asking the question, Why am I alive? Because the decisions I had made and the things I had done, I should be dead. But I was still alive. And when I asked that question—Why am I still alive?—I had a picture in my mind: I saw myself walking down a desert path with a bright light shining on me, and I was wearing a white robe...
— Kip Smyth

Happy New Year! I’m coming back to you from winter hiatus later than anticipated, due to an extended illness and the now-historic teacher’s strike here in Los Angeles. During that time (which also saw LA pounded by torrential rains and floods), my daughters and I holed up at home and often lived vicariously through the videos of my guest today: homesteader Kip Smyth of the 1000’s of Roots YouTube channel. Via twice-weekly vlogs, Kip, his wife Carrie and their six children—ages 15 years to 19 months—document their permaculture-homesteading and homeschooling adventures living on a 500-square-foot off-grid home set on 20 acres in the Missouri Ozarks. 

The Smyth family’s stripped-down way of life is deeply rooted in their Christian faith; and yet, as Kip reveals in this interview, this was an existence he never could have imagined growing up as a self-described “jock” in a secular family in suburban Los Angeles. Here, we talk about consumerism overload, his calling to Christianity, homesteading from scratch, and so much more. 

Show notes:

  • Kip’s troublemaker childhood in Thousand Oaks, CA

  • From the party scene to finding himself on his family’s land in Alaska: “That’s when crazy stuff started happening to me”

  • Becoming a Christian, Simpson University as a 25-year-old freshman, and meeting Carrie

  • Arizona, the housing bubble and discovering Joel Salatin

  • Working at Home Depot: “If consumerism is the problem, then I need to become a producer”

  • Back to Alaska, and a brief foray into hunting and fishing 

  • Strategic Relocation and why the Smyths chose Missouri

  • Primitive skills and the problem with the prepper mindset

  • Learning to homestead from scratch, building debt-free, and the long-term vision for 1000’s of Roots

  • Faith, their lifestyle as a calling, and Kip’s advice for other wannabe homesteading families

All photos:  1000’s of Roots

All photos: 1000’s of Roots

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Watch the Smyth family’s journey on their YouTube channel: 1000’s of Roots. Read more about their life on the 1000’s of Roots blog. You can also support the family’s mission on Patreon.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

The Everwild Way - Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells

From bottom, left: Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells of  EverWild . Photos:  Emily Hart Roth .

From bottom, left: Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells of EverWild. Photos: Emily Hart Roth.

Society expects us to go down one path. And then if it doesn’t feel right or it doesn’t feel good, often we don’t know that there [are] other resources available.
— Elizabeth Wells
I think the biggest question that you could ask, and that [the Everwild kids] ask constantly, is: ‘I wonder…’
— Amanda Caloia

Our Season 1 finale is here! I can't imagine a more fitting close to our six-month journey than this interview with Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells, two of the co-founders of EverWild—a Los Angeles-based community that connects city-dwellers to the wild through family adventures, conservancy projects, and a pioneering nature-immersion homeschooling program.  

Amanda's and Elizabeth's journeys to create EverWild (along with Rebecca Chou, not featured in this episode) mirror so much of what we’ve been searching for on this show: a connection to nature, yes; but also a connection to true, human community. After all, the wild places we made our home in our ancient human past wouldn’t have been survivable without the tribe that surrounded us. As I’ve come to recognize over these past 22 episodes, we’re hardwired to be in the fold. While the loss of nature is palpable, community is that unnamable thing we’re grasping for in an increasingly virtualized and individualized world. 

In my LA backyard (over foraged yerba santa tea, homemade pumpkin bread, and a smattering of airplane and mower noise), Amanda and Elizabeth and I chatted it up about the quest for the "perfect" place to live, surfing and skating (Amanda is a Longboard Girls Crew USA skater), homeschooling in the wild, and how they ultimately found “the EverWild way” of life. 

Thank you all for your incredible support this first season! I wish you lots of time to “uncivilize” in your own life until I'm back again this fall.   

Here’s what we talk about: 

  • Surfing, snowboarding and searching for the “perfect” place to live

  • How Amanda and Elizabeth balance living in the city with their need to be near nature

  • Elizabeth’s background: from Cape Town, South Africa to Santa Monica

  • Bee and wasp attacks

  • Navigating risk in Everwild’s classes and “bloops”

  • Why kids need to learn according to their internal clock

  • Amanda’s aha moment about outdoor education

  • Homeschooling, unschooling, LA Nature Kids, and the creation of EverWild

  • Elizabeth: “Like all of these choices we make, [EverWild] is a way of life.”

  • Child-led learning and David Sobel

  • A surprise guest co-host and a day in the life at EverWild

Want to learn more about the EverWild way? Check out EverWild’s programs and upcoming happenings on the EverWild website, where you can sign up for a free trial day for the homeschooling program. You can also follow their adventures on Facebookand Instagram. (And don’t miss Amanda’s personal IG page for some rad skating/surfing/snowboarding pics: @pandaskate.)

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Resources: 

Inspire Charter School
Kiss the Ground
Hahamongna Watershed Park
Backbone Trail
LA Nature Kids
Pam Laricchica's Exploring Unschooling podcast 
Red Rock Canyon State Park