Ben Tucker, Derek Evenhouse, and Chad Deters are an inspiring group of 24 year old buddies from Holland, MI who have gotten together, rented a school bus, and are driving across the country searching for people to lend a hand to. Last week, they took a break to speak to CheapAir.com. This is their story, in their own words.
What is the Lost Bus?
The Lost Bus is us three guys traveling the country in a school bus helping out anywhere and everywhere we go. Lost is an acronym standing for Lending Our Services Traveling and that is the overall mission. We bought a regular old school bus (1996 International-65 passenger) and transformed it into our home. Our journey began on January 8, 2011 and we have been traveling the United States, volunteering, ever since. We are funded solely on people and places believing in what we do and have never had to work for money. We help others, and others help us in return.
How did you guys come up with the idea?
We knew we wanted to have an adventure but wanted to make it meaningful. All of us were at a point in our lives where we could drop everything and hit the open road in the pursuit of serving others. We knew we wanted to help others but couldn’t pinpoint exactly how or who we wanted to help. So we never ended up narrowing it down and decided we would help out anything or anyone that we wanted to support.
How many of you are involved? What is your connection to each other?
There are three of us, Ben Tucker, Derek Evenhouse, and Chad Deters. We are 24 years old, born and raised together in Holland, Michigan. After high school we all chose different paths, Derek went off to college and did some traveling, Chad bought a house and started working, and Ben did some college and worked out West. Throughout these four years we all stayed in touch and saw each other a lot even though we were doing different things. Then the idea came up and became our dream.
What’s life like living on a bus?
Life on a bus is exactly like you would expect but even better! It’s a full size school bus and everyone says “oh there are only three of you on it,” and they don’t think it’s crammed. Well, it’s crammed. The good thing is we aren’t in it as much as people think. We sleep in it, cook in it, but love the outdoors and exploring so we spend most of our time outside of it. The best thing is the ample number of windows and ever-changing scenery. Our kitchen window changes and has new action every day. The downside to the windows is everyone can see us at all times. We basically live in a fish bowl. We find ourselves staying in public places a lot and are under constant watch from bystanders and passer-bys. This can prove to create awkward moments in the morning when we just get out of bed or are changing clothes.
How do you decide where to go?
There are a lot of factors that influence where we go. The most simple and basic factor is climate. We have been proclaimed as the three youngest snowbirds in the U.S. as we chase the warmer temperatures all year round. When it gets hot, we head north, when it starts cooling down we find ourselves in a southern travel route. When looking for places to help, it comes at us 100 different ways. Sometimes we search the web for places to help; other times people ask us to help them. We have phone calls, emails, people flag us down, and occasionally some creative invites like a letter folded into a paper airplane and thrown through an open window to ask for help. As we have been traveling for over a year now, we have met people who have connections all over the country. These connections often lead to finding places that could use a hand or some help. Last and not always least, we look at personal interests of us three and find places that we may want to check out and explore.
How many cities has the Lost Bus been to?
We have been to hundreds of cities across the country, some of which we volunteer at, other times it’s just passing through. We have done over 15,000 miles and 13 months on the road as of now. We haven’t been to the east coast yet but plan to do some work there this year. On our website we have a map of all the places we have traveled to/ through and also have a list of a lot of the places and people we have worked with.
What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?
Helping others just to help them. The appreciation we have found from some people and places makes it all worth it. We have found no matter how much we put in to helping others, we always get more in return.
What have you learned from your experiences?
We have learned that people are good. Unfortunately, the media has portrayed some areas of the country or certain people in a negative way but we have found the exact opposite. Everywhere we have been we see and meet good people. This country is full of them and it has given us a new outlook on people as a whole. This has also shown us through a number of lessons to not judge a book by its cover. We have interacted with people that before this bus trip, we would have never interacted with. These people have turned out to be some of the most influential and good friends that we have met on this journey. We have learned to be open to everyone and engage in conversation with anyone.
What’s next for the Lost Bus?
A future goal of ours is to get other people out on the road in a Lost Bus. We have had an amazing experience and learned a lot on our trip. The best way to share it is by allowing others to get in on it. We plan to switch efforts from us riding on the bus to creating other buses and starting the organization this summer. We are in the early planning stages right now and are still developing the details. For the rest of our journey we will continue the Lost Bus mission but also collaborate with people to find how we can best serve others through creating multiple buses for groups of people to travel on. If anyone has suggestions, ideas, or wants to help, please contact us!