By Julianna Dotten
Whether it’s your first year attending the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference (did you know we have a first-timer’s discount?) or your 20th (like it is my parents’), a little preparation can go a long way out of making the conference a profitable time of encouragement and planning for your coming school year. Here a few ideas to help.
- #1 Pray about what God wants you to get out of the conference this year and discuss it as a family. Do you want to focus on family relationships? High school planning? Teaching reading? Each session has icons that indicate it’s topic in case you have a specific area of interest.
My family always enjoys taking out the conference brochure and planning what workshops we each want to go to. A copy should be coming in the next Update magazine (hitting mailboxes soon!), or you can view the schedule here. We like to “divide and conquer” amongst the family, and then we can share notes with each other afterwards.
- #2 Do some curriculum research ahead of time so you know what you want to look at. The vendor hall can be pretty overwhelming, so boiling down your options ahead of time can help you decide what vendors to check out first. Read reviews online or maybe even ask to borrow a friend’s textbooks to take a closer look without the pressure of being at the conference.
But please do your purchasing at the conference! Not only do you often receive deals or free shipping on products at the conference, but you’re also supporting the businesses that have made the effort to travel onsite.
- #3 Plan out your meals and if needed, lodging. Did you know conference attendees get a discount at the nearby Quality Inn? There are also multiple restaurant options nearby, as well as food offered for sale in the Mart itself. Or, if you’re packing your own meals, plan out your menu and make a shopping trip the week before (Note: food is not allowed in the Mart building but you’re welcome to eat lunch on the front lawn). Not having to make last-minute decisions about meals goes a long way in making for a relaxing conference weekend!
A few other comfort items: Make sure to bring that water bottle, a sweater in case the room is chilly, a notepad for notes, and a tote to keep all your stuff together and easy to carry and keep you from losing things (by the way, our Lost and Found is at the CHEC booth).
- #4 Plan to arrive early so you don’t miss out on anything (doors open at 7:30 am and the General Session begins at 8:30). Remember that morning traffic can be heavier than you are used to seeing if commuting isn’t part of your normal routine.
- #5 At the conference, make an effort to fellowship with others, old friends and new! If you know someone who’s going to be there, why not contact them ahead of time and plan to meet up during a lunch break? If you don’t know anyone, the conference is the perfect time to meet like-minded families!
- #6 Don’t forget to have fun! We have some super-amazing events planned for this year that you won’t want to miss out on! Friday night, the Colorado Wranglers will be giving a concert (they’re a hoot if you haven’t heard them before), and Dr. Steve Scheibner will tell his amazing story of almost being the pilot to fly American Airlines Flight 11 on 9/11. The event is the free for attendees! (Learn more about it here).
On Thursday and Saturday afternoons, Walk by Faith Theatre is presenting Pilgrim: A Musical. I had the privilege of attending the production a few weeks ago, and it’s a high quality production with a tear-jerking story that will leave you encouraged.
Also, on Friday, from 1:00-3:30 in the Vendor Demo Room, speaker Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, a New Zealand Chess Master who specializes in playing multiple opponents at once, has invited anyone to bring their own chess board and challenge him to a game!
- #7 Why not take a mini, one-night getaway as a couple the night after (or sometime the week after) the conference? Or, if that’s too difficult, block out a few hours to talk over your notes? After the fire hose of encouraging teaching and fellowship, you will need some time to process, look over your notes, and talk about how you can apply what you’ve learned. My parents often did this several times after the conference, and it helped them both get on the same page as to what they wanted to put into practice in the coming year, as well as provided some needed refreshment before launching back into everyday life.
What things help you get the most out of the CHEC conference? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s keep the conversation going!