Monday, January 01, 2007

I'm sorry, he's in conference

It's time I start doing my year-end reviews of things. Last week I was looking over our family pictures for the year and was struck by the remarkable number of conferences I attended in 2006. Here's my wrap up:

Men With Vision Leadership Summit
Oklahoma City, OK -- February 9-11

This was a new event but a number of old friends attended. Christian Home Educators of Colorado put together this men's summit to discuss the future of the homeschooling movement from a Christian perspective. Speakers included old acquaintances Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, Michael Smith of HSLDA, and Rep. Kevin Lundberg of Colorado. I had an opportunity to interview CHEC's executive director Kevin Swanson (another speaker and author of an excellent new book, Upgrade), and ate dinner with Norm Wakefield of Elijah Ministries on the way home.

My friend Davis Carmen from NCHE's board attended (we shared a room) as did our elder David Auge and pastor Scott Brown; we had an excellent time of fellowship and encouragement both in sessions and between.

North Carolina Conservative Leadership Conference
Durham, NC -- February

This is the first of these events sponsored by the J.W. Pope Civitas Institute. I registered at my own expense since I thought it might be too partisan in its politics to count as a legitimate NCHE homeschooling interest. As it happened, the educational focus was almost exclusively about charter schools and "choice" options than home education. I did see several political and policy acquaintances while I was there and made some contacts which could be helpful for homeschooling in a general sense. The big keynote speaker was Sen. George Allen of Virginia, though Rep. Sue Myrick and Rep. Virginia Foxx spoke as well as the head of the American Conservative Union.

One good takeaway was watching the live bloggers in action in the lobby; it inspired me to set up something like it for NCHE's conference later in the spring. They also had an interesting schedule for workshop sessions -- identical for both Friday and Saturday, so you could either get to every session, or else have the full range to choose from if you only come one day.

HSLDA Legislative Summit
Washington D.C. -- May

Home School Legal Defense Association sponsors this meet-your-Congressman event for state homeschool leaders every second year, and as the president of North Carolinians for Home Education, I was invited to come this time. Speakers included Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and about a dozen other legislators from both parties. These are my friends Bruce Shortt of Exodus Mandate and Joyce Burgess of the National Black Home Educators; the man who lives here sends me Christmas cards but didn't invite us in the day we came by.

North Carolinians for Home Education Annual Conference and Book Fair
Winston-Salem, NC -- May

My last one as president. This one had some interesting changes and surprises; the new owners of the convention center had installed WiFi through the whole facility so we set up a live blog for the NCHE website and had several guest bloggers posting throughout the weekend. This can only get better, I think.

We had some friends over for a late night drop-in at our hotel suite (we have seven kids, we need that much space) and a couple of the speakers came by, too. Here's an old acquaintance, Rick Boyers of Virginia (author of Yes, They're All Ours and The Socialization Trap) and a new friend, Vodie Baucham (author of The Everloving Truth and the most talked-about speaker at the conference).

Melanie and I spoke about four times each, including one on homeschooling travel which we put together on short notice when one of our scheduled speakers cancelled for health reasons.

National Conference for Christian Homeschool Leaders,
Nashville, TN -- September

We look forward to this event every year. HSLDA brings together leaders from the Christian homeschooling movement from all over the world; predominantly, of course, it's Americans, but there are nearly always representatives from HSLDA Canada, the German organization Schulunterricht zu Hause, Mike and Pam Richardson from El Hogar Educador in Latin America, and people from somewhere in Central Europe. We have a number of friends that we've known for years through this networking opportunity; here are Melanie and Valerie Monk of Arizona Families for Home Education, at Andrew Jackson's home, "The Hermitage", where we had dinner the opening night.

Uniting Church and Family Conference
St. Louis, MO -- October

My friend Scott Brown, elder of Hope Baptist Church in Rolesville, NC -- and also the director of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches -- invited my son John Calvin and I to attend as guests of Hope. We took a fifteen passenger van of men and families representing five current or future congregations and had a fantastic trip of fellowship, encouragement, and challenge. John and I shared a room with Eddie Burroughs, a local pastor who recently resigned his post to start a new fellowship when his deacon board decided not to support his vision for a more family-centered model for their church.

I didn't take a lot of pictures because I spent most the time blogging. I did finally realize that if I was going to be meeting authors as often as I do at these events, I ought to at least get their books signed, too; I was able to get Alexander Strauch (Biblical Eldership), Arnold Pent (Ten P's In A Pod), and Voddie Baucham (The Everloving Truth) on this trip. Kevin Swanson was nice enough to inscribe Upgrade when we met in St. Louis.

Incidentally, this only covers the state and national "convention" type conferences I was able to attend. There are several ongoing projects I've been involved with, such as the new Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina group that I meet on a regular basis and a smaller summit sponsored by the South Carolina Home Educators Association, but those are both more focused on particular issues.

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