Who can be a mentor in the RV world? Everyone! You can be a seasoned professional traveling in your fourth rig. Or you can be a newbie who just rolled off the lot for the first time. Whether you’re a full-time nomad celebrating years of that lifestyle or you are transitioning from a sticks-and-bricks environment, you can be a mentor.
In my professional public relations career, I have always advocated for more mentoring relationships. Being a mentor gives you an opportunity to help shape or propel a young person’s career. It also means learning a lot about the next generation. Back in 2010, I wrote a post at another blog about this symbiotic relationship:
The person you are mentoring can see firsthand how you’ve shaped your career and can learn from your experiences — both positive and negative. Plus, you have the opportunity to be the mentee — to learn a tremendous amount about the younger generation and, sometimes, about the technology they have grown up with but that you are still trying to master.
It still stands true today, although this post is more about how mentoring translates to the world of RVing. When Jessi and I started camping, we were in a tent. Then we moved to a Shurkamp, which was a tent on wheels inside a small trailer. Eventually, we moved up to our Roadtrek 190 Popular.
Learning the ropes of RV life
We bought the Roadtrek in December 2015, and in January 2016 we took our first camping trip. Did we take advantage of our new travel home by going somewhere warmer than mid-Michigan? No, we did the exact opposite! We drove five hours north to Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to a frozen wonderland covered in ice and snow. But we knew there would be people with us who also owned Roadtreks. We figured there was no better way to have our first experience with our rig than being surrounded by others who owned similar units. Knowing we could get advice and tips galore if we were willing to listen and learn — to have mentors — reassured us for the trip.
We had a positive experience on that trip in challenging conditions. I believe it instilled in us the confidence to travel anywhere in our Roadtrek and I will always be grateful to that first group of RVers we hung out with. Their welcoming spirit and knowledge of the RVing lifestyle were fantastic.
Since then, we have been able to pay it forward by assisting other people who are new to RVing, especially those who own or are considering purchasing a Class B RV. Whether in person or through social media platforms, we have become mentors to others, which is how it should work.
In that 2010 post, I put it this way:
For mentoring to be successful, it needs to be more than just a concept. It needs to be a living, breathing thing that ebbs and flows like the tide. It needs to follow a cycle of mentor, mentee, repeat.
You can inspire while being inspired
As we have contemplated jumping into a nomadic lifestyle, we have appreciated finding others who are at various stages of doing so themselves. Learning from people who took the plunge and are making the most of it has been exhilarating and educational. Folks like Tom and Cait at Mortons on the Move; Kyle and Olivia at Drivin’ and Vibin’; Nate, Marissa and Hensley at Less Junk, More Journey; and Marc and Julie at RV Love have inspired us in so many ways. Through their videos, blog posts, and Instagram cutlines they also have taught us important lessons they learned and have now shared.
We got to meet them all at NomadFEST this past October. I tried to remember to let them know how much we appreciated their sharing their stories. In doing so, they have helped and inspired Jessi and me. I’m not sure I clearly articulated just how much they have been our mentors or if I even had thought about classifying them as such yet. But it’s true, and I’m grateful for their mentorship.
It’s essential that your mentors know they are mentoring you. Sometimes, it’s a more formal relationship. But other times, you need to let others know what they have done for you. In return, I’m betting you’ve helped them out, too.
I want to think that as we have chatted with RV nomads about their lifestyle, that we have helped them remember why they chose it in the first place. Our sense of wonder and awe at what they have accomplished perhaps reminds them of why they did it. I am not naive enough to think that being an RV nomad is all unicorns and rainbows. There are day-to-day issues to contend with no matter what type of life you lead. But knowing others have done it and finding those mentors along the way makes it less daunting to chase a new American Dream.
You can be a mentee and a mentor
And remember, whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, you can be a mentor in your way. Once you have your first full day of new experiences, you are someone who has been at it longer than that person starting tomorrow. As a mentee, you can help mentors reconnect with their reasons for beginning the RV lifestyle. And showing up with RV technology on board that is newer than theirs means they can learn something, too.
Back to my post from 2010, remember that mentoring is cyclical and should be never-ending.
It’s about teaching someone how to fly and then cheering when they jump out of the nest. It’s about knowing you’ve done your job as a mentor well enough that the person who looked up to you now feels confident enough to speak to you as an equal. And it’s about instilling in someone the passion to succeed and share that success with someone else by becoming a mentor themselves.