GPL column: Summer adventures with a skoolie

Is there anything better than hitting the road for a great summer adventure? How about hitting the road in your custom-built skoolie?

Chances are you have seen a skoolie, a renovated school bus, driving down the road, or tucked in a campsite at a state park, or perhaps at a random tourist spot. While they have been around as long as there have been retired buses their popularity has really increased over the last few years. Skoolie owners have many different reasons to buy a bus and start building. Some see it as a way to get out from under a mortgage, others see it as a means to hit the open road taking advantage of remote work opportunities and others, as in our case, see it simply as an alternative to a recreational vehicle. Reasons for building may overlap but the design does not. I think I can safely say that no two skoolies are alike, each one built with so many individual touches that they really are all unique.

There are so many buses showing up first on Pinterest and now on Instagram that there is no lack of inspiration. If it wasn’t for seeing the “after” pictures of so many great skoolies I don’t know if I would have been able to dive into the project. I first considered the possibility when we had the chance to get a gutted bus at a discount from a family member. It was hard to see past the shell of a bus holding an old couch and a port-a-john. This bus was used for the occasional camping trip and suited his needs perfectly but it was not quite what I wanted. As you can guess this is not where my skoolie story ends. I knew that bus was not the right one but my curiosity was sparked and I wanted to see what the possibilities were for transformation. It was then that I turned to Pinterest to see what it could become and I was blown away by some of the designs. I immediately stopped my search for a pull behind trailer and began the search for a bus.

Finding the bus was the easy part. Schools are frequently replacing spent buses and auctioning the used ones off. Designing and building it was challenging to say the least. Perhaps this is why there are companies you can pay to build one for you to your specifications if you don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself. We were able to tear everything out pretty easily and then we were left with a giant shell that we had to put back together. Many nights were spent drawing out plans, saving ideas to a design board, doing a ton of research on toilets and paint and solar panels, etc. We almost quit at one point because it just seemed so overwhelming. We persevered however and it turned out better than we thought possible but there was a lot to learn along the way and we are able to honestly say there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into our build.

If you would like to learn how you can build out your own skoolie, things to consider before you start, or if you are just curious about skoolies in general then please come to the Skoolies program at Greenwood Public Library at 6 p.m. on June 29. My husband and I will be discussing the steps we took, and systems we learned about, in order to go from school bus to skoolie. Immediately following the program we will be on hand to answer any questions and to provide tours of our very own skoolie, Beatrix.

Anna Roberts is a Cataloging Librarian at Greenwood Public Library. GPL staff members share in writing this bi-monthly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]