After five years of welcoming the curious to our Family Gatherings, we are inviting you to travel alongside us on a very special journey, the QC Caravan. This is a voyage of discovery through a set of diverse yet connected cultures and landscapes: Morocco, Mallorca, the Azores, Portugal and Ireland. This trip is for a small crew of families who are ready for adventure and growth. We’re bringing along a world-class educator, perhaps the most inspiring teacher we’ve ever met. Lisé Whitfield will join us from Bali, helping us craft a learning journey that is thoughtful, challenging and deeply integrated. With a learning program for the kids, support for working parents and community for all, this trip is a very special version of our Family Gatherings.
With your first steps into the old walled cities of Morocco you are instantly transported. A flood of colour, indigo and magenta, dusty rose, and the odour of spice and orange blossom carries you through the winding streets. This country has been welcoming visitors for ages; ancient traders following caravan routes, 1960’s rock stars looking for inspiration and expansion, and today’s aesthetes trying to uncover the perfect shot of tiled pools. And while Morocco has collected what’s fallen from the wagons, it has remained fiercely and proudly its own place. In the end, all of those spices go into a tajine, and the flavour is powerfully Moroccan.
We will spend the month of February in the seaside town of Essaouira, a centre for art and design, with a charming medina and access to great surfing.
The Balearic Islands, Spanish outposts in the blue of the Mediterranean, are famous for year-round sun, great design and a rich food culture. While the islands can be busy in the summer holidays, the cooler months bring a different energy; quieter, more focused, with the local population reclaiming the landscape, reviving community and sharing together the bounty of land and sea.
We will spend March exploring the island together.
Portugal has had its ups and downs; from the glories (and tragedies) of the Age of Discovery to Europe’s longest dictatorship and an economic crisis that sent a generation elsewhere to look for opportunity. But these days this small country on the Iberian Atlantic is once again punching far above its weight. Sunny and charming, with powerful topography and a welcoming culture, Portugal has quickly become a top destination for families who like to do things differently.
We will spend April close to the ocean, but within striking distance of Lisbon, one of Europe’s most beautiful capitols.
From Lisbon we’ll follow the path of the Portuguese mariners into the deep Atlantic to another archipelago, the Azores. These are some of the most newly populated islands on earth. The landscape is young and still changing, with active volcanoes, hot springs, caverns and canyons sharp and new. The culture is Portuguese, but frontier-style, with a population of hearty locals who are used to the wild, solitary winters, and welcome the warmth of Spring with festivals, celebrations and prayers of thanks.
May is a wonderful month to spend in the Azores, as the islands shake off the last of the winter weather and lean into the sunny warmth of the subtropics.
For the Irish, so it’s said, every sad story has a funny part, and every funny story some sadness. The result is a culture that’s rich with laughter, with music and legend, and people who refuse to take themselves too seriously. We’ve found Ireland to be utterly charming and continually surprising.
The one big challenge in Ireland is the weather. Summer visits are often rained out, or unpredictable at best. June, however, is the Emerald Isle’s most consistently pleasant and sunny month. The late Spring swells bring wonderful surf to the coast, the sun is out and the countryside is still quiet, gathering itself for the summer holidaymakers. A perfect time for the month we’ll spend together.
MOROCCO February 1 to 27
MALLORCA March 4 to 28
PORTUGAL April 3 to 26
AZORES May 1 to 28
IRELAND June 3 to 28
If you are fortunate enough to have in your memory a teacher who changed your life, who opened your eyes to the bigness of the world, and who gave you the confidence and inspiration to launch your own journey to know that bigness, then you will know what it’s like to have met a Lisé Whitfield. Half scientist, half artist, Lisé brings deep experience as a teacher and education researcher. Her approach is rigorous, but built on a foundation of compassion and adaptability. When Lisé ran one of our learning programs in Bali earlier this year, we were impressed and inspired daily by her passion, organization and competency. She talks about this QC Caravan as a dream scenario for an educator; the chance to move through fascinating geographies and cultures, with enough time to dig deep, with support to create a program that moves beyond the walls of any classroom. For us, the dream is having Lisé at the helm.
Our style of learning is solidly project- and place-based, where authentically related topics and subject matter are interwoven in a way that engages students’ natural curiosity, fires up their courage for learning and taking meaningful risks, and nurtures their sense of compassion, while also supporting their progress in core proficiency areas such as math, science, and literacy. As a teacher my aim is to support them to notice the awe, wonder, and beauty of the world around us and engage with it in a way that helps them expand and grow from their own unique roots, within a globally connected community. ~Lisé
You can read more about Lisé, her experience and perspective HERE.
This program, designed for kids ages 8-13, takes full advantage of the diverse geographies we will visit during the Caravan. With a new theme and focus for each month, the studies will be immersive, interdisciplinary and follow a thrilling arc of discovery.
MOROCCO “Design Detectives”
Many travelers to Morocco are enchanted and perplexed by the beautiful and intricate designs used in tiles, carpets, gardens, doorways, etc., but did you know that these beautiful designs have their roots in math, science, and history?! Over our month-long, place-based, interdisciplinary learning adventure in Morocco, we will explore and connect with the country’s history and culture through the lens of Islamic geometric design. Taking on the role of design detectives, we will utilize our math skills to reveal unique numerical patterns, expand our understanding of astronomy and botany to expose their secret origins and meaning, and uncover Morocco’s rich history as a crossroads of important ancient trade routes. We will also put our artistic and literacy talents to work creating beautiful, illustrated journals of our discoveries to help us share this fascinating story with our families and friends back home.
This learning adventure is best suited for families with budding scientists, mathematicians, architects, artists, fashion or interior designers, archaeologists, and/or historians aged 8-13, who are keen to put their curiosity and creativity to work on the ground in the gorgeous coastal area of Essaouira, Morocco.
MALLORCA “Savory Scholars”
Imagine waking up to the warm scent of the sugar-dusted ensaïmada, an airy turban-shaped pastry unique to the island of Mallorca, and pursuing its aroma to the bakery down the street to discover just how the bakers create this unique fermented dough. We grab a few ensaïmada to keep us going and continue tracking down the source of this unique spiral pastry all the way to the local farmer cultivating ancient varietals of wheat found nowhere else in the world! Investigating the ecology of the small farm that produces these precious herringbone-patterned kernels welcomes us into the world of permaculture, soil microbiology, integrated pest management systems and ultimately a whole community of diverse stakeholders who unite Mallorcan food culture with sustainable ecology and fair-trade principles. Our month-long, mouth-watering learning adventure will immerse us in exploration of the island’s sustainable slow food systems, connecting us with artisan producers, farmers, fisherfolk, bakers, agronomists, scientists, restaurateurs, cooks, artists, and activists (not to mention oranges, lemons, olives, honey, and salt to name just a few)! Weaving together our skills in ecology, biology, chemistry, math, art, literacy, and gastronomy we will take a tasty adventure through the world of slow food to unearth big insights into sustainable food systems, personal health, nutrition, and joy, as well as cultivating our powerful role as young consumers. Prep your taste buds for this colorful and delectable journey into Mallorcan food, from seed to plate.
This learning adventure is best suited for families with budding farmers, biologists, ecologists, restaurateurs, sommeliers, cooks, and poets aged 8-13, who are keen to put their taste buds to work on the ground on the sunny isle of Mallorca.
PORTUGAL “Perspective Pioneers”
Maps seem to hold a magical quality for many of us. They can transport us to faraway lands we’ve never seen, give us a sense of our own place in the world, and act as time machines to take us into past worlds. Maps help us make sense of complex information and relationships, and they always reveal something about the mind and perspective of the mapmakers! In this month-long learning adventure, we will scour the treasure troves of Portugal to uncover the history of explorers, navigators, and cartographers from the “Age of Exploration” that transformed “terra incognita” into Google Earth. The beautiful coastal area of Cascais and Lisbon will support our time-traveling interdisciplinary learning journey and take us from the 15th century to present. Throughout our adventure, we’ll observe, experiment with, and build our own navigational instruments and maps while simultaneously learning about history, geography, engineering, mathematics, measurement, and visual information & data representation. After building an understanding that maps have often served as instruments of power to tell a particular story, we will also explore ways to create and utilize maps to illuminate who we are as individuals and community, to examine social and environmental injustice, and spur positive change. We’ll create a beautiful portfolio of maps to take home from our own personal “life maps” through modern Earth projections all the way to maps of our solar system, stretching our 3-D thinking and imaginations to the max!
This learning adventure is best suited for families with budding cartographers, engineers, geographers, historians, and artists aged 8-13, who are keen to put their curiosity to work on the ground in the beautiful coastal areas of Portugal.
THE AZORES “Tectonic Travellers”
In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, roughly halfway between Portugal and the United States, lie the Azores, an enchanting archipelago of nine volcanic islands bursting from the sea from a triple junction where three large tectonic plates meet. It’s hard to dream up a better landscape than this to ignite the curiosity of our team of budding Earth Scientists! From the moment we land, our vision will explode with the vibrant colors of emerald forests, stark black lava flows, mustard-colored hot pools, and blinding white volcanic stone walls. Over our month-long discovery process, we will uncover the story of how our planet moves and shifts to create the landscapes and ecologies that we live in, taking some deeper dives into how these geologic tales underpin culture. Our case study of the Azores will help support our young scientists to make inferences about the relationships between geology, ecology, and anthropology in their own and other countries and cultures. Each scientist-explorer will create an illustrated scientist’s logbook to document their process and findings. From investigating lava stalactites inside subterranean lava tubes to discovering microbial biodiversity while splashing in geothermal pools to quenching our thirst from natural carbonated springs, this learning adventure in the Azores will immerse us fully in the dynamic Earth!
This learning adventure is best suited for families with budding geologists, geochemists, ecologists, and anthropologists aged 8-13, who are keen to put their curiosity to work on the ground in the stunning islands of the Azores.
IRELAND “Magical Mythmakers”
“Magical Mythmakers” – June in Ireland
Wandering along the West Coast of Ireland, we are immersed in legendary castles, mystical stone circles, glistening white cliffs, lush emerald pastures, and wild, rugged beaches! This enchanted land has been the crucible for a centuries-old tradition of storytelling that weaves through Irish literature, mythology, music, film, even pre-Celtic religious traditions. This learning adventure will invite us to travel into these storytelling traditions, exploring ancient and modern Irish mythology, poetry, literature, film as well as traditional and modern Irish music. We’ll dive into the history and craft of storytelling through visits to some of the world’s most treasured illuminated manuscripts and ancient books (from Ireland and beyond!) along with some of the places that have inspired them, focused studies of Celtic music, jubilant attendance at ‘trad’ music sessions, and analyses of modern Ireland’s most beautifully animated modern films. Our young bards will apply all this knowledge and inspiration to craft their own unique stories, poems, animations, and music, growing into modern Seanchaí (‘shan-a-key’), skilled tellers of tales, for a final live performance to showcase their literacy and musical creations.
This learning adventure is best suited for families with blossoming writers, poets, musicians, singers, actors, dancers, animators, or directors aged 8-13, who are keen to put their imaginations to work on the enchanting West Coast of Ireland.
€2500 per month per child.
2000€ Family Fee. Reduced by half for subsequent months.
There is no programming for children under 8 years old, though they are welcome and invited to be part of our community for these months. We anticipate families with younger siblings who will be underage for the program. Where possible we will help connect these families to alternate and age-appropriate programs in the area. Our trips have always been enriched by a broad spread of ages, with a community that forms like a big family, and we fully support this for QC Caravan.
WHAT IS INCLUDED?
Attendance for your child or children at our learning program, five days per week, from 10am to 3pm. We schedule with some flexibility to allow site visits, explorations and attendance at local events.
Our support on logistics and travel throughout before and during the experience. We can help advise on lodging, local transport, flight paths, what to pack and how to prepare.
Our QC Field Guide for each location.
A handful of unique local experiences in each location, designed with our local partners; some may be optional and have additional costs.
A welcome dinner in each new geography.
Community. A big part of the magic of this experience will be what we create together. Meetups, dinners, group adventures, it’s all part of what we build as a group of families.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED?
Lodging. You are responsible for finding and booking your own lodging. We are happy to play an advisory role.
Meals, except where noted.
Airfare and transit.
Travel insurance ~we ask that all families purchase travel insurance.
GROUP SIZE This trip is limited to a small number of families, for a total of roughly 12 kids.
STUDENT AGES We have designed the program for students from age 8 to 13, with exceptions happily considered.
LODGING Families are free to choose lodging wherever they like; our expectation is that all will live as close to each other and to the program homebase as possible. Typically the kids create their own calendar, with impromptu swims, dance parties and dinners over. Proximity facilitates this. We will notify all families of this location and advise on finding lodging nearby.
CORE VALUES As always, our gatherings are dependent on having the right families in attendance. What makes a family right? Well, it’s not about sameness, or a shared aesthetic, or even shared opinions. Our experience with each of our Gatherings is that there is something so beautiful that’s built from a group that is diverse and dynamic, that brings a wild and broad expanse of experience and perspective to the same moment. All of this, though, rests on a foundation of shared core values:
Humility as Travellers
Intentional and Gentle Parenting
For our booking conditions and other matters, please visit our FAQ page or reach out directly.
READY TO JOIN US?
Please reach out directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.