Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Toronto Unschooling Conference 2008

Whew! We've been so busy lately that I hadn't even realized it's been two entire weeks since I've posted here. Last week flew by as we were preparing to attend this year's Toronto Unschooling Conference this past weekend. I finally feel recovered enough today to get back to my normal activities like blogging and catching up with laundry!

While words can never convey the intensity of an experience like an unschooling conference, I will share with you some of the highlights for our family:

The fun actually began Thursday night with a pre-conference ball game at the Roger's Centre (which I still prefer to call the Skydome, thank you very much!) Anne O., Nicole P., and their families joined us to watch the Blue Jays take on the Tampa Bay Rays. Little did we know the game would go 13 innings! We ended up leaving in the middle of the 12th as the boys had had their fill of baseball (final score: 8 to 3 for Tampa Bay - 5 run inning in the 13th!!)

[Note: although the conference officially began on Friday evening, we drove down early Saturday morning, so I have no idea what transpired on Friday, but I'm sure it was fun!]

Our day started bright and early at 6:20 a.m. on Saturday as we sprang out of bed to race to Orangeville by 9 a.m. (that's a joke, BTW - NO ONE around here springs out of bed at 6:20 a.m., even for something as fun as an unschooling conference!)

We had a smooth and uneventful drive there, and, rather miraculously, strolled into the lobby of Hockley Valley Resort shortly before nine o'clock. Wonder of wonders, I managed to make it to my friend Anne Ohman's 9:15 talk with a few minutes to spare! While I was reuniting with a few of my friends from the Shine With Unschooling list, Joe and the boys were downstairs setting up our gaming equipment in the designated Gaming Room. The boys were in heaven - a room full of Unschooling Gamers to play with all day! That is where they spent most of the day Saturday, with a short break at lunch for a swim (I hung out in the hot tub, of course!)

I attended 3 of the 4 major talks at the conference (Anne's, Carlo's, and Francette's) and all of the speakers were great. They each brought their own special perspective on the world of unschooling. In between speakers, I had the opportunity to chat to a bunch of the other conference attendees. After Anne's talk, I went to speak to a man who had asked some questions about starting to unschool his seven-year-old son. I found out he was from Hamilton, and lives about 2 km from me! I suspect we may be seeing more of each other...

After sitting for so much of the day, I was ready to move around, so I headed to the Belly Dancing Funshop. I've never tried belly dancing before, so this was a bit of an adventure! The class was well-taught and I enjoyed myself (even if I was a bit slow to get the hang of it). I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out there is more belly dancing in my future...

Joe's not exactly the belly dancing type [grin] so he decided to head to the Guitar Funshop instead. He quite enjoyed himself, and got some helpful input from my lovely friend Marji, the Guitar Goddess.

I took the boys swimming again while Joe went in search of dinner in town. We ended up with just enough time to eat before the talent show started up. The talent show is always one of the best parts of an unschooling conference, and this one was no exception. I didn't get to see all of it, as I was bouncing between that and the movie room where the boys were hanging out. There was lots of singing and guitar playing, a magic act, dancing, and martial arts (including a performance by Joe, Mr. Black Belt!)

After the talent show, Joe spent the rest of the evening jamming with other guitarists. I alternated between listening to them, and keeping an eye on the boys, who were hanging out with their new buddies.

Sunday morning, I attended one-and-a-half roundtable talks (didn't quite make it to the beginning of the first one!) while Joe and the boys packed up our room. After lunch (picnic in the minivan!) we went on a 2 hour guided nature hike of the Bruce Trail. There was one section of the trail that was positively blanketed with trilliums (Ontario's flower) - we even got to see a few of the much rarer red trilliums. Unfortunately, I left my camera in the van, so no flower photos!

Once the hike was over, we were all exhausted and ready to head for home. It was a jam-packed weekend of unschooling fun, but we were ready for a bit of down time!