If you are new to buslife, you may have heard talk about a “skoolie swarm” and had no idea what was being discussed. Don’t worry, we have all the details for you below.
So, what is Skoolie Swarm?
Skoolie Swarm is an annual winter skoolie social gathering that takes place once a year in Florida and the festivities typically last for an entire week. All types of vehicles are welcome – box trucks, vans, tiny homes on wheels and skoolies of all shapes and sizes.
The Beginning of Skoolie Swarm
The Skoolie Swarm® (a.k.a The Swarm™) was founded by Travis and Michelle, the owners of the Big Blue Hauler, back in 2017. Their friend, Charlie, had a meetup with 5 other skoolies in 2017. Travis and Michelle loved meeting other skoolie owners and wanted to continue connecting with members of the community.
By the end of 2017, Travis noticed that other skoolie owners felt the same way in the forum, skoolie.net. Michelle coordinated with other potential attendees via email and researched a few locations suggested by a friend. They wanted to ensure that all of the attendees were able to camp together, so they needed to find a location big enough.
After exploring a few options they decided on Sertoma Youth Ranch. The first Skoolie Swarm was held back in February of 2018, where 22 skoolies, vans, box trucks, and a tent camper attended. Fast forward to the fifth Annual Skoolie Swarm where over 250 skoolies, vans, box trucks, RVs, and tent campers attended.
Activities and Things to Do at Skoolie Swarm
The activities and things to do at Skoolie Swarm really depends on the venue (if the event is held next to water, in the deserts, etc) but for the most part an attendee can expect potluck dinners, community breakfasts, kickball games, movie nights, sock hops, and more.
Ryan, from Seeking Discovery, stated that there is something for everyone, but his favorite times are the end of the day fires with friends. Since the event is family friendly, there are plenty of activities for kids, as well. In fact, one of the meetups even included a pie eating contest for the kids!
Location and Time of Year
Skoolie Swarm has not been held in the same city, but historically takes place in Florida. Typically, the event runs for 10 days at the end of February. Those wanting to attend the event should join the Facebook group dedicated to the event where information like the time, dates, locations, and all available activities are posted.
Travis and Michelle confirmed that they have recently started hosting Swarms in the fall, but they are usually smaller. Make sure to keep an eye open for registration information as there may be limited spots.
Keri & Winston from Where is Willow recently attended a Skoolie Swarm and stated that they loved the community vibe at the Swarm. They thought that there were a lot of great people, and the energy was warm and welcoming. They have made lasting friendships from the Swarm and even have lunch plans coming up with a friend that they met at the event!
The Kit to Happiness family said that they loved their time at the Swarm! They made new friends and met like-minded people who assured them that they were not weird. They also learned many different ways to live the skoolie life and are so grateful to Travis and Michelle for organizing the event year after year.
The owners of Our Bus Olive stated that they absolutely loved meeting so many people from different countries with different backgrounds as each person had their own story. They described the Swarm as a celebration of life and freedom and enjoyed that there were ten days for those in the community to collaborate, create and have fun. Overall, they felt the event was very organized and professional.
Eric & Jessica, the owners from Calypsos Odyssey found that the Swarm was the best thing that they had experienced in a long time. They absolutely loved meeting people from many different backgrounds and the sense of community that had been built. They really got to enjoy the company of like-minded people.
It’s one thing to read about Skoolie Swarm, but an entirely different thing to hear from someone else’s experience. After speaking with multiple attendees of the event, from across the years, I found that each skoolie owner gave the same consensus – it was a fantastic experience filled with amazing people.
Skoolie Swarm Videos on Youtube
Join Eric, and his cats Jax and Tara, from Nomadic Fanatic as he visits the first Skoolie Swarm in the Ozarks in his 1997 Ford Coachmen M19RB Class B Campervan Motorhome.
In the video you’ll see that Eric points out that Skoolie Swarm is not just for skoolies – it’s more for every nomadic traveler in a vehicle. He also shows what movie nights look like at the Swarm, as well as some of the unique rigs that can be found there.
Michael, from Navigation Nowhere, records his experience from the 2022 Skoolie Swarm, which was held east of the Mississippi. This latest event had over 250 rigs! Michael tours through a few rigs and sits down for dinner with Travis and Michelle, the founders of Skoolie Swarm.
Chris & Ashley from The Spastic Nomads share their story of their first week of living on the bus as well as attending Skoolie Swarm. Join them as they navigate experiencing bus life full-time while meeting up with a huge skoolie community!
What’s Next For Skoolie Swarm?
The 6th annual Swarm has already been scheduled to take place, set to take place in Melrose, FL on February 18th-27th, 2023. The entire space has been rented out for privacy.
Travis and Michelle did state that they are always open to location suggestions, but they do have certain criteria that they look for. If anyone has any questions regarding the event, they can always reach out to email@example.com or connect on the Facebook group.
More Skoolie Gatherings to Check Out
Skooliepalooza, like Skoolie Swarm, is a gathering meant to bring together skoolie owners. So far, there have been five gatherings. The latest event was held in January of this year, from 21st- 31st. Also, like Skoolie Swarm, it is a family and kid friendly event.
The goal of this event is to build a community through activities like stargazing, movie nights, hikes, and seminars that discuss critical aspects of skoolie life like maintenance. You do need to register for the event but there is no fee to attend.
Descend on Bend
Descend on Bend, while less skoolie oriented, is another great event for skoolies to attend. The event welcomes all rigs – big and small. Again, the event is family friendly, and, like many camping events, all attendees are expected to leave no trace. This upcoming year (2023), Descend on Bend will be held in Lost Sierra, CA from May 26th through May 29th.
There is a Maker’s Market available as well as morning yoga and live music. Amenities for 2023 include porta potties and hand-washing stations. Tickets range from $159.99 + fees to $199.99 + fees, depending on the length of time the visitors intend to spend at the event.
In 2019 Bus Life Adventure put on The Bus Fair for the first time. Since then, Covid has, unfortunately, disrupted plans for the second event multiple times. Currently, the event is planned to be held in June of 2023 in Oakridge, OR.
Some of the main attractions include a bus show, seminars, art/food vendors, live music, adult beverages, and camping. For any questions, including interest in being a vendor, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tiny House Events
As the tiny house movement grows in popularity, there are many tiny house events put on across the country. Typically, the point of these events are more to educate the public on the tiny house options available, but some tiny house events allow the participants to stay on site and participate in potlucks, live music, and other community building events.
Please keep in mind that since the main point of the tiny house events is to educate the public on skoolies and other tiny living options there will likely be attendees of the event walking through the homes. If you feel uncomfortable with this, tiny house events may not be the best place for you. If you are interested in learning more about the events that are available, Tiny Living keeps an updated list of scheduled events.
Everyone has their own reasons as to why they chose to live the skoolie life. Some want to live a debt-free lifestyle, some want to travel across the country, and some people want to be a part of something greater.
The skoolie community is just that, and an easy way to become a part of that community is by attending skoolie meetups. Skoolie meetups give you the opportunity to make friends, collect inspiration, troubleshoot difficulties, and share ideas.
Skoolie Swarm is just one of many events offered. There are several other events out there, especially with the rising popularity of skoolies these days. Remember, though, not all skoolie meet-ups have to be an organized affair. Meeting up with other skoolie owners from the internet in real life can be just as fulfilling!
Up Next In Skoolie:
(feature image: @bubsaholic & Chelle Escobedo Swarm 2022)
By – Sabrina Bosserman
Sabrina Bosserman, a NOAH-certified tiny home builder and MBA candidate, is the co-owner and operator of Phoenix Skool Buses, a tiny home building company. Using her expertise acquired as a nuclear engineer in the Navy, Sabrina has helped over fifteen clients fulfill their dreams of traveling the country in a tiny home over the past three years.
After living tiny on a skoolie–a school bus converted into a tiny home–and an aircraft carrier, Sabrina excels at building a functional, tiny space. When she’s not running her six-figure business, Sabrina can be found educating her thousands of social media followers on the inner workings of her company’s primary build: skoolies.
She has been featured on multiple podcasts as well as tiny house platforms such as Tiny Living and Tiny Home Tours. She was also a guest speaker at the Great American Tiny House Show. Sabrina currently resides in East Texas with her business partner (more specifically, her husband) and two impish cats.