The Barrie Convention is finally over. I have returned home and have decompressed enough to mull over what I have learned this past weekend. Here are my top five observations:
- When you are at Convention, time goes by in a blur. You feel somewhat cut off from the outside world. I found this state of affairs quite soothing in some respects. I didn’t have to cook or clean (not that I do this much anyways…) or read a newspaper or answer emails or phone calls from friends or work for five days, and my family commitments were virtually nil. This was quite an enjoyable experience at least until I arrived home at midnight on Sunday night and found numerous calls and over 200 emails in my inbox!
- Going to Convention is not so much about speakers and bus tours and OHA business but about the sharing and the laughter. It feels like a family reunion of sorts with delegates high-fiving and hugging each other and grinning like monkeys. We really look forward to seeing familiar faces, poring over photos of other people’s gardens and hearing what has transpired over the past year. Each year the friendships that have been forged deepen and there is a sense of urgency to book vacation and plan for next year’s event.
- Expect the unexpected and you will be fine. No matter how much you or others plan, some things will go pie-shaped. The schedule will change, the food may be cold or not to your liking, the bed hard, or the weather too hot or humid. Embrace these changes for it is this stuff that will form your memories and provide much laughter in the years to come.
- Get someone else to pack your luggage. I remembered the playing cards for our late evening euchre games, my notes for inviting this year’s delegates to Sudbury’s Convention in July 2011, and my GPS for navigating around Barrie, but totally forgot my sandals for the Saturday night Banquet. Wearing sneakers did not add to my sense of comfort at all.
- Planning and executing a convention involves vision, a lot of hard work, and plenty of sweat equity. As Sam Walton once remarked, “If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction. But be prepared for a lot of folks to wave you down and tell you you’re headed the wrong way.” People will always second guess the choices you make and add their two cents of advice – some of which you heed and most of which you ignore. Marching to a different drummer takes a lot of courage and fortitude and a well-defined sense of purpose.
Carol Dunk and her District 16 volunteers did a fantastic job with just a year’s notice and they are to be commended for staying the course and producing a fine Convention. Bravo!