Life in the Schoolyard

IMG_1037We found a unique opportunity in Anchorage. We are school stewards at the largest school in the state. Being a school steward is the best volunteer position we have ever held. As a school steward, we live in the school parking lot. The school provides us with electrical hookup, water hookup and wifi (which we don't need because we have our own). Our duties are very simple - we live in the school parking lot and notify authorities if there is a problem. We provide weekly pumping out of our sewage tanks ($40 - this is our choice some people take their RV to a dump station and dump the tanks as needed). The school gets a human presence on campus and we get a great place to live for three months with our only cost being $40 a week which is less than one night in an RV park.

Our school has huge open fields, tennis courts, a football stadium, a track, an indoor pool that the recreation department operates in the summer. All schools in Anchorage have bike trails connected to the school. Our school has multiple trails in fact there are more trails than we will ever be able to ride while we are here. There are paved trails and dirt trails and we can get to all of them by jumping on our bikes in the school parking lot. We had no clue what goes on in a schoolyard when school is not open. Here are some of the thing we have observed.

  • People come here to fly drones, model helicopters and model airplanes. Some of them can do some cool tricks.
  • Summer camp groups of preschool and elementary age kids pass by on their way to the pool for swim lessons.
  • The Alaska Special Olympics were held here one weekend.
  • The Alaska Bikeology group spent several days in the parking lot teaching bike skills. They have about 40 bikes (most are the folding type) and they turned middle schoolers loose on them.
  • The Anchorage canine flyball group holds some kind of event here once a week. This is the only irritating thing that happens in the schoolyard - The dogs bark constantly which is slightly irritating. The most irritating is the dogs' human companions who squeal and scream the entire time the dogs are playing the game. Fortunately this only lasts about two hours.
  • Everyday we have fifty or more bikers and skateboarders pass by the RV. We are located at the intersection of two of the major greenways. Since it is light 24 hours a day, they pass by at all hours of the day and the "not night".
  • The tennis courts are in use until around midnight most days. There are people taking lessons, people playing for fun, and there is one group that plays some kind of team soccer game on a tennis court.
  • Several kids soccer teams practice in one of the fields on a weekly basis.
  • People bring blankets, picnics and kids to the fields on the weekend. They come with frisbees, balls and dogs.
  • Summer school is being held at this school and science classes pass by on their way to the trails and woods for projects.
  • On hot days (70+ degrees) people bring their lawn chairs and hammocks to the fields just to hang out. Hammocks are hung from the soccer goal posts.
  • The school grounds are a dog walking paradise. Dogs run, chase balls and play with their people. Some people put their dogs out of their vehicles and drive in circles around the parking lots with the dogs chasing the car. I suppose that is one way to make sure the dog gets exercise.
  • A least two kids are learning to drive in the parking lots - one is working on shifting gears and the other is trying to perfect turns and braking.
  • The school district has cleaning crews that come at night to clean the school. There is also a lawn care group that cuts the grass on a weekly basis and a parking lot washing crew that occasionally comes by. There have been multiple deliveries of school supplies and textbooks - many coming from Amazon (I am guessing that is because of the free shipping).
  • One day I was washing the car and a young man on a bike rode over and asked me if the RV was my house. I told him I lived there. He asked me if I was the principal. When I was working, students were always surprised to see me outside of school - I wondered if they thought school employees lived at the school - this confirmed my thinking.
  • A biology class dissected fish in our backyard - using our hose to wash everything down (including the students) after the science lab was complete.
  • Moose also use the fields to travel from one wooded area to another.
  • One young man was training his dog to pull him on his skateboard - the dog did a great job following the boy's directions.
  • The football team and cross country team practice around 6:00 every morning and around 6:00 in the evenings several days a week.

These are just some of the exciting things that happen on a daily basis in the schoolyard. We had no idea all these things would be going on. When I first mentioned to people that we were planning to be a school steward everyone seemed to be concerned that it could be a dangerous thing - being isolated in a school parking lot with no one to see or hear if someone was bothering us. In reality, there is almost always someone here. There has been zero trouble. This is by far the best long-term campsite we have ever had. When it comes to biking, this is the best place we have ever lived.