Pura Vida Unschooling Conference

Lexa Pennington's picture

We are unschooling our daughter and are always on the lookout for unschooling conferences and activities.  Unschoolers are so much fun - full of life, and joy. Here's a new unschooling conference in Costa Rica, run by Sharon Wallace. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Sharon about the Pura Vida Unschooling Conference.  It will be held from November 30- December 8, 2008.  Here's what she had to say....

WE:  Please tell us about the Pura Vida Unschooling Conference...

SW: I'm interested in homeschooling internationally, as well as in exchange programs and "year abroad" arrangements.  We homeschooled our 3 kids...now adults...outside the US, and our 2 granddaughters are being homeschooled as well.   Our setting in a beautiful and exotic country seems a natural for unschoolers.  Costa Rica is officially a pacifist country; a democracy with a constitutional prohibition against armed forces.  The family is the most important group in Costa Rican life, and whatever's second is FAR behind.  The idea of the conference grew out of our attending two Life Is Good conferences in the Pacific Northwest, and it seemed like a good idea at the time:)

WE: Why did you choose these 2 locations, in Costa Rica?

SW:  I chose both a mountain/Central Plateau venue and a beach venue.

The first, the Hotel Monte Campana, is near the major international airport, and near the capital city of San Jose.  It's a cooler location due to its altitude, and offers a rustic setting combined with the option of visiting the population center of the country...the San Jose area.   The views from the Monte Campana are lovely, as well.

The Hotel California was chosen as the beach site because of its proximity to the most popular of our national parks, Manuel Antonio National Park, and because of its more tropical-resort atmosphere.  Being at sea level and near the equator, Manuel Antonio can be hot and humid, so having a breezy and well-appointed hotel with air-conditioning was important.


WE: What does Pura Vida mean, in Spanish? Did you choose it for a particular reason, for this conference?

SW:  Pura Vida doesn't translate well.  It means, literally, pure life...but in Costa Rica it's expressive of the cultural attitude of abundant joy in everyday living.  If you ask someone how things are going, a typical response is "Pura vida, mae!"  "Just super, dude!" :)  Only more so.  I chose it from several suggestions.  It's an expression that's a trifle overdone here, maybe, but I don't think that unschoolers are that blasé.

WE: What sorts of activities will be available?

SW:  There will be the popular outdoor "touristy" possibilities...hiking, riding, jungle canopy tour, waterfall gardens, butterfly and hummingbird sanctuaries...it's difficult to overstate the variety of options available.  At the beach, well, there's the Pacific Ocean.  Manuel Antonio National Park is home to sloths and howler monkeys, toucans, iguanas...and there are lovely beaches within the park.

Conference activities will include hanging by the pool, an oxcart-painting family project, Survival Spanish funshops, a visit to the Rainforest Spices working farm, a sandcastle-building morning...and whatever else smaller or larger groups may decide to do with their days and nights.  There's always music and dancing, games, ice cream, and spontaneous discussions about the ever-larger world of unschooling.

WE: How can people find out more?

SW:  I'm happy to answer questions and concerns posted at our list...http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PuraVidaConference/.

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

SW:  This could be the vacation of a lifetime for our families.  The official conference language is English, and our hotels have bilingual staff.  No additional health precautions need be taken,  and the food will be generally familiar and unalarming to cautious eaters.  The food and water in Costa Rica is safe, and the public health system is excellent.

This is a low-key conference, as befits the languorous tropical setting.  I've asked willing families to consider sharing their own thoughts about the unschooling ways of living and about their own experiences.  I hope that this conference will for many be the first of many opportunities for international travel and cooperation for our families.



WE: Thanks so much, Sharon! I wish we could make it this year - sounds like  a great time! 




Photo courtesy of hotel-california.com