I have had the pleasure of attending conference for the last 2 years, firstly in Auckland and then last year in Christchurch. So I was interested to see exactly what National would put on and how well it all ran.
National Office is based in Wellington so this is where conference was held this year. They held it at Te Papa, the museum in Wellington, actually quite a cool place to hold a conference. Steve and I had been to a dinner there previously but not a whole conference.
Unfortunately due to the shuttle issues we had and helping Steve get the boys settled before I went to the conference area, I didn't have time to attend the official service, but I did get to the first session at 8.30pmThey opened the conference with the Annual General Meeting (AGM) but they managed to make this last 2 days!! We had half the AGM on the Friday night and then had the other half on Sunday morning! I have never known anyone be able to make an AGM last for so long, unfortunately it meant that attendance at the 2nd half was way down on the first half.
The speakers and break out sessions on the Saturday were good, some inspiring speakers. I found my first break out session a little slow to get going, but made some good contacts whilst in the session. Got to meet someone in a centre not far from where I will be in Hamilton, so we got talking and exchanged details, so will get in touch when I move.
I also got to meet 2 people from the Hamilton Centre, so know when their meetings are being held, so will go along when I have moved. Sounds like they are going through a small bad patch, sort of what Auckland went through last year, but looking forward to seeing if I can help and working with a different committee with a different way of doing things in a different town.
The conference dinner on the Saturday night was good, nothing too fancy but had a theme of 60's & 70's. We had some wonderful costumes appear and some people really went to town on their design. The entertainment was fabulous, they got 'The Beat Girls' who were just amazing. Played all the right music and they were so entertaining.
Sunday was another good day at conference, again some more good speakers and good break out sessions.
Something new they did this year was to have a Dad's Day, generally they ran sessions for the Dad's on the Saturday, so Steve was registered for this and he says it was very interesting. In total there were 4 dad's at the day but they had good speakers and good discussions on how this day could be better organised and planned so more dad's could attend. The only small problem to it is that all the dad's are at home looking after the kids so the mum's can attend conference, so something big would have to be organised about childcare to allow the dad's the advantage of attending conference at the same time, but Steve said lots of ideas were flowing around and it will be interesting to see what comes of it, hopefully that will not be the one and only dad's day at conference.
At the end of the day this is a conference for volunteers, apart from the paid people in National Office the rest of Parents Centre New Zealand (all 52 centres) runs on the wonderful enthusiasm of volunteers and the awesome time they are prepared to give.
Like all volunteer stuff, you can be involved a little or a whole lot, just purely depends on what you want to take on.
To meet up with another 150 people all with the same enthusiasm as myself is very inspiring, so I always come away from Conference with lots of ideas to try and help our centre over the next year.
Not sure where conference is being held next year, they are talking about having a 'Volunteer Symposium' instead, but hey will give anything ago, so watch this space and will let you know where and when and what it will be.