Cruising to the Conference

“…and we’re so stoked that you all made it up here to Santa Cruz. We’re so stoked to be hosting this conference! Look around you and at the person next to you! Hug them! Hug everybody! These are your people! We are each others’ people! Yea!”

And that’s when I started to feel old. I mean, I’ve only been out of college since 2010, I guess I’m not that old. But really… you want me to hug any and all of these people? Dude, what? I mean I guess we are all outdoorsy folk. I spy Chaco tans and Patagucci jackets and dreadlocks. But hold on a second. Are outdoorsy folk now synonymous with touchy feely folk? I just got here and already we are in love-everybody-because-we’re-all-in-this-together-so-spread-the-big-love-and-sunshine-and-radiate-the-good-vibes mode.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m also stoked to be here. And I love to hug people (that I know). And I’m excited to mingle and engage and learn from whoever I interact with this weekend. But right now, as this is a college conference of mainly undergraduate students who are hugging each other all around me, I seem to be on a different wavelength. Whatever. Back to the fact that I’m stoked…I just seem to express my level of stoke in a different way.

With that, the opening ceremony concluded and WROLC (the Western Regional Outdoor Leadership Conference) was now underway.

Twenty minutes later as I was checking in with one of the lavender shirts (the go-to UCSC recreation leaders) my head popped up.

“Is Julie McPherson here yet?”

“Hi! I’m Julie, what’s going on?”

And then all of a sudden I was speaking to Skye, the conference director.

“Right place, right time it seems!”

We both laughed.

Post check in I located the grassy triangle, *cough* the shanty town tent uprising. There was still a fair share of open grass to claim, so I found a flat area and set ‘er up.

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As my workshop was scheduled from 6pm-7pm this evening, and as it was 5:15pm, I strolled over to the correct building to collect my thoughts and relax.

Fast forward.

It’s happening! All of a sudden I’m standing on a wooden chair listening to the cacophony of back-and-forth banter that is filling the fluorescent lit room.

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Learning and laughter and fun.

What is this workshop? Three Pillars of Communication.
“The Individual. The Audience. Playing with Space. Following a brief introduction about the concepts of engagement, workshop attendees will examine three facets of clear, effective, and creative communication through role-play. This workshop will advance your techniques in one-on-one, small, and large group interaction.”

Quite an amalgamation of awesome folk attended — from Redlands, UC Los Angeles, UC Davis, San Jose State, UC Santa Cruz, San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara. Students and guides and recreation leaders and program managers alike. I was, as seems to be the word of the weekend, stoked.

Brilliance and creativity remain singular without effective communication. I want to continue to share my insights with others on how to most effectively communicate. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to present at WROLC on a skill so integral for outdoor leaders.

The evening continued with a family style serve yourself taco feed with buckets of guacamole to boot. After a meet and greet with outdoor program managers from all of the attending schools I embarked on a journey away from campus and towards the pier. I am glad to say that I played Settlers of Catan for the first time ever. Finally. Wow. I understand the addiction. Who wants to trade some brick?

Back to campus, way later than planned, in the pitch. Good thing I brought my headlamp. Clearly more people arrived this evening. Clearly more people set up tents. Big tents. Where is my tent? Really good thing I brought a headlamp! Shanty tent town in full effect.

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