LFFE on the Road

For 5 years, “Jean Claude Tan Van” was my home away from home for close to 4 months each year.

From roughly June 1st through the middle of September, I live a nomadic life, sleeping steps from some of the best fly fishing in the lower 48. My annual pilgrimage stretches from small mountain streams in western North Carolina to historic fishing camps in Maine, then west to the fabled waters of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the high alpine lakes of the Rocky Mountains. Long before #vanlife was a thing, my home away from home -a 2003 tan camper van- was more than I needed. At first, Kim joined me for a few weeks, then enjoyed the rest of her summer with friends and family at home. Even after our oldest child, River, was born the tan van was a “comfortable” home for the three of us. With the arrival of our daughter, Bailey, I knew we were going to need to make some changes.

Despite picture like this, living in a camper with two kids is not all picnics and sunsets.

For Kim, being home with two kids was much different than home alone. As for me, I never really understood homesickness until I watched my son walk for the first time via FaceTime. My love for spending time in the field was what inspired LFFE. I needed to find a way that I could spend more time with my family in the summer without giving up my time in the field. A van with one full bed and no bathroom was not going to cut it.

“Terry” sprang a few leaks, suffered one  tire blow out, and endured a few mouse invasions, but luxuries like a full bath, two beds, and a fridge/freezer were a huge game changer.
Not one for hanging around the campsite all day Kim had a new adventure planned every day. Even when it meant strapping one kid on her back and one on her front. If you’ve ever been to Mammoth Hot Springs, you know how many stairs it takes to get to this overlook.

So when I made the long drive out to Jackson in July 2018,  I towed a 19ft camper with me. Kim and the kids flew out shortly after and for nearly two months we called the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem our home. With the help of an outstanding list of guides, I was able to lead trips that teens will remember for the rest of their lives. With Kim’s incredible hard work, our kids had an experience that will undoubtedly help shape their young minds. It is a tradition that I hope to continue for a very long time. Despite what the #vanlife-worthy photos on our Instagram pages might lead you to believe, living in a camper with two kids isn’t always picnics and sunsets. 

Most of my time was spent on the water with groups, usually showing up to our camper in time for dinner, and regularly disappearing for 2-4 night stays in the backcountry. This meant Kim was often left alone to take care of the kids. Taking care of our two kids alone in our house for a few hours tires me out. What Kim managed this summer was truly remarkable.

Thank you to everyone who continues help make this dream a reality, and a special thank you to my amazing wife, who I literally could not do this without.


Will Lillard

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


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Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

Contact Us

[email protected]

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204