Old RVs give students new adventures

John Sheen, Taylor Dahl, Jackson Law, and Nathan Smith with their motorhome, Jambo. (John Sheen)

Some college roommates pitch in to buy groceries, rent movies or order pizza together.

BYU alumnus Michael Slater, BYU students Taylor Dahl, Jackson Law and Nathan Smith and UVU alumnus John Sheen chose to go a bit bigger: they split the cost of a Dodge 1978 Sportsman Jamboree motorhome named Jambo.

Sheen originally came up with the idea after asking himself what he could do that college kids would pay him to use.

He decided to invest in a motorhome as a moneymaker and planned to rent it out to college students for weekend adventures.

Sheen found Jambo for $600 on KSL.com. He immediately asked his roommates if they would go in on the motorhome with him. They were thrilled.

“It was one of the easier decisions in life,” Law said. “It was such a small price to pay for so many adventures.”

Sheen, Slater and Dahl went to check out the motorhome the next day. Slater described the owner, Steve, as a “white-bearded old man.” Steve had lived in the motorhome for two years. It contained about three years worth of food storage, and the inside was covered in insulation.

The roommates could see that Jambo would be more of a project than a moneymaker, but they were committed. They talked Steve down to $550 and drove away with what Slater described as a bucket of bolts.

“Buying the RV gave us a great opportunity to stretch ourselves,” Sheen said.

After putting in six months of work and $100 in remodeling costs, the roommates have taken more than 15 trips in Jambo.

“It doesn’t have to be nice to enjoy it,” Dahl said. “In the end, say the thing breaks down and dies, it was worth it.”

BYU senior Joe Hirt, a friend of Jambo’s owners, has owned a motorhome since October 2014.

BYU senior Joe Hirt's motorhome known as the Jotorhome. (Joe Hirt)
BYU senior Joe Hirt’s motorhome is known as The Jotorhome. (Joe Hirt)

Unlike Sheen, Hirt was not in the market for a motorhome when he came across it. Hirt saw the “For Sale” sign in the motorhome window. He peeked his head in, and thought it looked great.

Hirt said he couldn’t stop thinking about it; he knew there were so many things he could do with a motorhome.

“You could live in it or just go on campouts; even just use it as a party bus to drive around,” Hirt said.

Hirt bought the 1977 Dodge Sportsman motorhome for $1,000 and named it “The Jotorhome.”

The proud owners have already taken Jambo and The Jotorhome on several trips up Provo Canyon, but the biggest adventure they’ve gone on together is to Zion National Park with 16 college students.

“The Jotorhome and “Jambo” were housing and transportation for students on a recent adventure to Zion National Park. (John Sheen)

Their trip to Zion was deemed a success, despite three flat tires and a dead battery, according to Hirt.

BYU alumna Minee Ryum attended the trip to Zion. She said she was grateful for the lasting friendships made through the trip.

“It was awesome because the people that came didn’t all know each other,” Ryum said. “It really expanded our friend group.”

UVU alumnus Houston Wright and BYU junior Andrea Wright are motorhome owners as well. They agreed with Ryum that taking trips in a motorhome brings people together.

UVU alumni Houston Wright and BYU junior Andrea Wright with The Green Machine. ( )
UVU alumnus Houston Wright and BYU junior Andrea Wright with The Green Machine. (Andrea Wright)

The Wrights recently purchased a 1978 Dodge Road Ranger motorhome after seeing The Jotorhome. They found theirs on KSL.com for $600 and dubbed it “The Green Machine.”

Like the owners of Jambo, Houston knew it was going to take work to get The Green Machine renovated and functioning properly. He and his wife have spent more than 80 hours on renovations. They are planning on taking The Green Machine out for their first weekend trip this summer.

“I love having the project. When it’s actually up and running, it will just cruise,” Houston said. “It’s such a fun novelty.”

Jambo, The Jotorhome and The Green Machine are expected to make many more memorable college adventures, according to their owners.

“It creates friendships. There’s something magical about being in an RV that makes you friends with everyone else in it immediately,” Sheen said.


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