Sign up now to help with the Used Book Sale, Connections, and other activities. Call the WPA voice mail at 608-283-3131 or email WPA at firstname.lastname@example.org. See the Donate & Volunteer page.
Registering at the Conference
Begin by registering in Gruenhagen Conference Center, 208 Osceola St., Oshkosh, WI. An experienced conference goer will orient you to the conference.
Meet n’ Greet—Friday 5 to 7 pm
Are you looking for a central place to hook up with your fellow homeschoolers? A place to make new acquaintances or reconnect with friends you’ve met at previous conferences? Or maybe you’d like to chat with someone one-on-one about the conference itself and what all it’s offering? Well, the bedazzled “Meet n’ Greet” is the place to be! Stop by for 5 minutes or hang out for the whole time; the Terrace Room in the Conference Center will be open from 5 to 7 pm Friday...it’s guaranteed to be a “sweet sensation!”
Check Your Nametag
This year, conference goers’ nametags will be color coded to indicate which of WPA’s 15 regions of Wisconsin they live in. (Regions are determined by county boundaries.) You can find people with the same color on their nametag and introduce yourself as someone from their area.
Family Folk Dance
Snacks and Conversation
Friday evening after the workshops, 8:30 to 10:30 pm, Gruenhagen Conference Center
Talk with people
Talk with people in workshops, in the Connections area, in lounges on the lodging floors, at meals, walking to workshops. Family Activity workshops provide good opportunities to meet other homeschoolers.
Meeting Homeschoolers at the WPA Conference - One Mother’s Perspective
Attending a WPA conference reminds me of going to summer camp as a young person. Let me explain.
When I was seven, my parents sent me to a weeklong camp 3 1/2 hours away. My Mom would help me pack a week’s worth of everything I could fit into a bag, and the three of us would cram into an unairconditioned car for the long hot drive. Even though the camp was offered through my family church, I didn’t know a soul. It really doesn’t sound like much fun when I describe it this way, but believe me when I say, I simply couldn’t wait to go. Some years, my parents would have to remind me to say goodbye as I was quick to run off to sign up for my activities for the week. My favorites were archery, horseback riding, BB gun, canoeing – but the possibilities were endless. That next summer I would beg for two weeks and eventually three weeks of camp, and although it was a stretch for our family’s budget, my parents somehow managed (over the next 8 years). Around my second or third year of attending, my Aunt decided that camp was just the thing for my cousin (who was like a sister to me). I couldn’t get over how lucky I was – camping with my cousin!
When my cousin and I arrived that year, true to form I dashed off to reacquaint myself with the large wooded grounds, find my cabin, meet my counselor, and beg for the list of activities they had lined up for this summer. It was always especially exciting to meet the new girls I’d be bunking with and go through the ever important annual ritual of determining upper or lower bunk rights. You can imagine how shocked I was to return and find my cousin frozen in her steps at the main office, begging my parents to take her back home. Shaking my very confused little head, I simply recited all the great things I loved about camp, convincing her to stay. She made it two nights before my Aunt had to make the long drive to pick her up. It was so difficult for my young mind to grasp how much she hated camp when I consistently counted the days until I could go back. Meeting new friends, some remaining as such well into adulthood, was what my memories were centered around.
Looking back, I realize that making friends in a strange place is not something that comes naturally to most people. An unfamiliar place with strange new faces can be intimidating. It’s only when you find you have common ground with an unfamiliar person that things become, well, familiar. That familiarity is what I cherish about the conference each year. Comparing stories of past treasures found while waiting in line at the Used Book Sale. Sharing space on the floor as babies crawl and children play. Starting a conversation during a Family Activity workshop as families reach out to each other during activities to help all of the children, together. And I’ll admit, we sometimes count the days until the next year’s conference. How could we not? Acceptance among ‘strangers’ for choices we’ve made-- what an amazingly unique experience to share! New “strangers” for our family to encounter – I can’t wait!
Maybe this is why I appreciate the friendships I’ve made, and kept, at the conference. I don’t think I can even count all the babies that have born between that first conference we attended and now. I remember my husband pulling me into a room after a workshop to introduce me to a young woman from our area, with children of similar age, who was also just starting out homeschooling. The things our two families had in common easily broached the gap between strangers and friends. Another year, sitting in a room waiting for the workshop to start, the woman next to me leaned down to look at my name tag and the region I’m from and to notice we were from the same area! Several years have passed now since that ‘stranger’ whispered friendly words to me. Suddenly our kids are so much taller, measured by the many homeschool group events, scouts, field trips, nature classes, and conferences we’ve attended together.
There are many opportunities for you to make new friends and memories at the conference this year as well. For example, WPA will be color coding our name tags based on our regions! Friday afternoon’s Meet n’ Greet is an excellent way to meet other homeschoolers and kickoff your weekend. Maybe you’re reconnecting with friends you’ve met at previous conferences. Even if you just want to chat with someone about the conference itself and all its offering, bedazzled and sweet are just two words to describe the plans that are being made for the 2014 Meet n’ Greet!
For my family, one of our favorite things about the conference is to be surrounded by people who share this amazing common ground we call homeschooling. We can’t wait to meet those new ‘strangers’ and relish in how easy it is to start a conversation, laugh, commiserate, and uplift each other. We can’t imagine an early May passing without making lifelong memories at the WPA Conference.