We had a great time at the conference! It was pretty much how I thought it was going to be. Lots of interesting talks, lots of kids, lots of meeting with friends, old and new. The talent show was great, and my kids had a very nice time.
We also got away from the hotel and explored downtown Salem! This time we focused on New England Pirates, at the Pirate Museum. That was a great place. Lots of tales and scary figurines. We also hit the Peabody Essex Museum. That was quite a lovely place. Probably one of the nicest and prettiest museums I have been in. Plus ,they had this exhibit called the China house which was a large Chinese house you got to wander through. It was very, very cool! Before heading home we spen some time in Boston. Mostly driving around. But we did hit the Boston Children's Museum, which was fantastic. It was the best kids museum we have even been to. Then we enjoyed a lovely, lovely seafood dinner at a place my Boston savvy friend recommended, The Barking Crab. It was delish.
Now the negatives. C'mon you new that there would be a few! And I need to be balanced and true to what I saw. Well, first in my opinion, there needed to be some more activities for the kids, cause a whole lot of them seemed bored and running rambunctiously to amuse themselves. My kids wanted to just get out of there and go to pool. I have no problem with running happy kids but it was out of hand at times, and disrespectful to the hotel. I saw some damage to moulding and other things that would have left a sour taste in my mouth if I was the venues host. Also kids were running up and down my hallway, speaking very loudly, waking me up. I am pretty laid back, and understood that these kids were so psyched to see each other. But not everyone is me, and I am sure it pissed off the average Joe who was not part of the event. I also know the management received complaints over the kids abusing the elevators. Or people disappearing leaving little kids scared and alone, some the same parents kept doing this multiple times after being approached, kindly. Grrr... unschooling is not unparenting! There should be a talk at the beginning of these conferences, about respecting the place, and other people who are guests there as well. Watch and parent your kids! It's not lord of the flies. Saying yes to your kids is a wonderful thing! But it's mostly about opportunities and following their passions, not about them doing whatever they want. I got quite a few surprised looks when we had to tell E a big fat NO! because he was being quite obnoxious in the restaurant.
I think A won't be as excited to attend another one as I hoped. Oh he will probaly go for me, because we have friends there. And because he knows we can bail and sight see when it gets to be too much. But he gets miffed as I do, that we represent unschoolers when we (collectively) are at these events. And well, it's just a mess sometimes.
BUT, I did see lots of wonderful things as well, lots of respectful parenting, responsive to their kids needs. At first I thought maybe A and I were alone in our observations, but as the weekend drew to a close, there were quite a hefty handful who were on the same page. Even the organizer thought that having a chat about what Unschooling was not would be a good idea at the beginning of next years event.
But anyway, it was really great. I gleaned a few things, had a great time exploring Boston and Salem.
And I would probably do it again. The only issue is that I read a lot, and know so much of this in my heart. So there were only a few talks that worked for me, and weren't redundant. It would be more of a social networking thing for us. I think A would rather use the money toward traveling and heading out on long day trips to see a few people. We'll see... I always wanted to attend one, and now I did. So that in itself was a great thing. Don't get me wrong. Coferences are a lot of fun, they are full of cool people, great conversations, and opportunities top connect with old and new folks. I just wanted to present both sides of the coin, in our experience, and our own opinion. I am sure each individual had their own experiences, and thoughts that may not even come close to mine. And that's the spice of life. I am off to put together a slide show of our weekend, as I am still on A's comp and have picture posting issues. So there will be a ton of photo's to check out later!