Ray Cammack Shows Inc. is a traveling giant, dozens of rides, scores of game trailers, and hundreds of workers riding the circuit from fair to fair, hitting nine cities in the season, including the massive Arizona State Fair in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a particular kind of life, one of the few remaining legacy kind of lifestyles.
Harley Pickett, currently eleven, is the fourth generation of her family to live the carnival life, in the footsteps of her ancestor, the company’s founder and namesake. Since birth, she’s traveled with the company, except for the school years for the past five years. To be able to attend school, Harley was left behind in Ahwatukee. While the company was on the road, she and her parents flew back and forth regularly to see each other as often as possible.
But now, with the inaugural year of Cammack Christian Academy, Harley’s family can be whole year-round. Founded by members of the community of RCS Inc, the portable private school holds classes in a double-wide trailer, embedded in the ‘backstage’ of the fairs. It’s even painted red and white in classic schoolhouse style.
Cammack Christian Academy has ten students, seven of them cousins, all of whom have grown up as family. The fair is their backyard, but they say it’s not a distraction. Not nearly as much a one as having the divided lives them knew before.
The students are taught by Kate Bishop, who married into the fair life seven years ago, but only now has been able to give up her teaching job in Texas to travel with her family instead. About setting up the school, she says it “felt right, and I knew we could make this work.”
Bishop and the community intend for their students to have a high-caliber education. They use cutting edge educational technology and field trips everywhere the fair goes, and with two teachers for ten students, they are never lacking for personal attention. The school is accredited through Association of Christian Schools International, but is more STEM-oriented than religious.
What will happen to the students when they reach high school levels is undecided, but it sounds like they’ll have a solid, if mobile, footing before then.