NORTH FORT MYERS, Florida –The classroom of
the school that Caitlin and Cameron Crumpler
attend changes dramatically month to month.
Once their classroom was a reindeer herder's
teepee. Another time it was a native chief's
hut in New Zealand. They studied in a hotel
room that was entirely underwater and in another
hotel room in Sweden made entirely of ice. One
of their favorites was the fly-bridge of a trawler
in Florida where they could look down on dolphins,
rays and manatees.
Caitlin, 13, and her brother Cameron, 10,
go to a school that believes that travel is
the best teacher, a home school started three
years ago by their imaginative and courageous
parents, Dennis and Maleah Crumpler of Atlanta.
Caitlin and Cameron are the only students.
"Trips aren't designed around the curriculum;
curriculum is designed around the trips," said
Maleah. While traveling, Caitlin and Cameron
each keeps a journal and takes photographs.
When they return, each writes and designs a
magazine-style article about the trip on their
In recent years they've traveled and learned
in Mexico, Lapland, New Zealand, Australia,
China and the U.S. One of the more memorable
trips for the Crumplers was to North Fort Myers,
Florida where the Crumplers lived on a cruising
trawler while they learned to operate and navigate
the 40-footer on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
and surrounding bays, rivers and anchorages.
"I learned much while at Florida Sailing and
Cruising School," wrote Caitlin. "I can now
turn a 40-foot boat on an axis. We learned all
the signals to give other boats."
"On the last day we saw two dolphins that swam
by us and some incredible bat rays that hovered
on the water," said Cameron. "My sister and
I slept on the bow of the boat and had a great
time. My Mom and Dad slept in the stern of the
boat. It was one of the best experiences of
The live-aboard boating course, P101 on the
course list of Florida Sailing and Cruising
School, was also a favorite for Maleah and Dennis
Crumpler. "This was a trip my husband put together,"
said Maleah. "He has always loved boating and
sailing. Before making the decision, the couple
researched boating schools thoroughly. "Florida
Sailing and Cruising School got the highest
marks on our report card," said Maleah. "Everybody
talked about them very favorably."
Caitlin and Cameron are two of about 850,000
of the nation's 50 million schoolchildren being
taught at home rather than in traditional school
buildings, according to the U.S. Education Department.
Maleah credits the decision to home school Caitlin
and Cameron to a fortuitous confluence of circumstances
in the Crumpler's lives.
"When Dennis sold his company we found ourselves
with time that we had never had before," said
Maleah. "We discussed it and agreed that we
could take Caitlin and Cameron out of school
and teach them at home. Then we had an epiphany:
'Hey, we don't have to teach them at home. We
can travel and teach them, too.' "
Three years and many exotic trips later, the
Crumplers are still traveling, still teaching,
still learning. The Crumpler school curriculum
is limited only by the pace of the students
which is, Principal Maleah notes, pretty darn
fast. Caitlin and Cameron are way beyond the
average in math, science and other subjects
including the family favorite, geography, which
comes to life with the trips they take around
The list of travel destinations on the Crumpler
wish list is long. Near the top is another trip
to Florida Sailing & Cruising School to live,
learn and cruise aboard a deep-keeled sailing