I was blessed to be able to fly to Salt Lake City with a friend to attend the Thomas Jefferson Education forum this past weekend. It was probably the best homeschool conference I have been to in all my years of attending conferences. I left each class and each day excited and with new ideas. The purpose of each speaker was not to sell me a product but to share their experiences from the trenches. Some of them did have books to share, but many did not. I loved the rich family environment, the many people with an eye to the missions of each of their children, and the amazing intellectual conversations. I was awed by the youth that I met and interacted with. At one point, there was a young woman about 16 who was practicing in the hallway for a speech she was going to give. She literally stopped me in my tracks with her enthusiasm and delivery! I met an 11 yr old boy who calmly taught a room full of adults about his ebay business with some help from his father. When I met him before the conferences in the hotel lobby, this same young man had looked me in the eye, stood tall with confidence and shook my hand.
The conference was truly geared to the family. The provided childcare was more like daycamp than daycare. The teens had specific classes for them, and the adults were not only taught about homeschooling but also about finances, business management, parenting, organization, etc. There was something for everyone.
Although my family was not there with me, I attended the family ball anyway. I have been to family dances before, but they paled in comparison to the energy and joy that was in that room. All the youth were modestly dressed in dresses that reflected their own styles. Every couple of songs a couple would teach a ballroom dance step and then they would play a song so all could practice the ballroom dancing. There was a floor show performed by a ballroom dance team from nearby. A pair that performed was national champions and they performed an incredible routine. The little girls and fathers were presented like Cinderella at the ball and the moms danced with their sons. I had the opportunity to talk to other homeschooling parents and had one youth approach me and pull up a chair to talk. The night ended with a few beautiful musical numbers by a couple of the Jeppson girls who are part of The Wildflowers.
I can't wait to download all the recordings of all the classes I missed this weekend. I just might have spring for another collection of lectures from a previous year too to keep me going this next year until I can take my WHOLE family out to Utah for the forum next year.