Cruising with Dolphins Rates High in This Curriculum

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 computer.

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 my life."

The liveaboard 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’s 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 world.

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 vessel.

Florida Sailing & Cruising School is a division of Southwest Florida Yachts, Inc., which operates one of the largest yacht charter fleets in Florida. For course descriptions and prices contact WFYACHTS@aol.com, (800) 262-7939 or (941) 656-1339, or write 3444 Marinatown Lane N.W., North Fort Myers, FL 33903. Website addresses are www.swfyachts.com and www.flsailandcruiseschool.com.