The Refuge

The Welch family lives in a school bus. After 12 years of praying for land to call their own, More Smiles and Space Cadet gathered everything they had, including their three sons, Forest, Eli, and Simon and moved across the country from California to Ohio.They live in 20 acres of a dense forest filled with natural springs, deer, and a simple school bus. There is no running water or electricity. Forest, 12, attends public schooling, while Eli, 10, and Simon, 8, are still home schooled by Space. Their simple lifestyle reflects their desire to preserve the land and live a slow-paced life. They want to try to provide a place for everyone in need to come and feel welcome.The land’s name is The Refuge. Their vision of providing a place for shelter and rest shapes their daily lives. This story is about one family’s relationship with the land and with one another.(Left) Forest, 12, Eli, 10, and Simon, 8, unload firewood as the fall-sun sets through the trees, and their goats surround the boys. “We are trying to load up on firewood before winter comes around” Simon said. They use a wooden stove inside the bus to keep warm during the cold Appalachian winters.

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