This is it. The recap that you have been waiting for. Or is it? I don’t know if you were anxiously sitting around your computer wondering “When is Kyle going to get that recap posted?” Whether this was you or not, it is all finished. The recap is ready to read. All 2225 words. Are you ready?
This was my experience from the conference that I attended the past weekend. The Spring Conference aftermath from the Toastmasters District 62 Spring Conference at the Firekeepers Hotel & Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan: May 13-15, 2016.
First of all, the theme. To get this fire started, the theme for Battle Creek’s Spring Conference was “Keep the Fire Burning”. And I can tell you that the fire was indeed burning. How so? gather around the fire and I will share my stories about this exciting weekend full of food, speaking and networking.
First of all, the name of the theme was decided because of the hotel. With the name “Firekeepers”, it made perfect sense to have the theme of the conference centered around this name.
So what about the weekend? It begins with the journey.
My journey consisted of a rather lengthy 126.55 miles to the Firekeepers Hotel. I had to drive down M-30. This was the first leg. After I got to M-46, I turned right. I then turned left on Barry Road, right on Washington and left on Bagley Road. It then led to a divided median of the north-south bound US-127. And it didn’t help having to follow behind a Meijer delivery truck the whole time! On the intersection, turning right would take you north. Going through the median and turning left would take you south. I went through the median and turned left. This was the second leg. I drove down US-127, taking it all the way to I-69. I headed west on I-69 for a while and then took that to I-69 South. After following this, I then merged onto I-94 West. I was then on the final leg. I followed I-94 West, getting off on the exit for South 11 Mile Road, turning left and then left again onto East Michigan Avenue. I finally turned left into the entrance to Firekeepers Hotel & Casino. I then parked in a spot that was a little ways from the hotel.
I checked in and took the elevator to the seventh floor. I then went down the hallway and found my room: 709. I took the key, scanned the door, and entered.
Upon entering, I was greeted to the sound of peaceful and serene music coming from the HDTV. The channel displayed a scrolling marquee, with the message “Hello Mr. Kyle Walker. We hope you enjoy your stay with us.”
The furnishings were pretty impressive. Queen-sized beds, iHome alarm clock, HDTV and a Keurig coffee machine. This room was on fire. Of course I am speaking in a figurative sense, so don’t worry. The fire exits were clearly posted in the event of an actual fire, which fortunately never happened.
The bathroom was also sizzling. These pictures speak for themselves.
Outside the bathroom was the closet, which I used to hang my belongings.
So as to not overdo it on the room, let get to the meat. Or vegetables if you’re a vegetarian. After getting situated in the room, I took the elevator to the lobby level. I then went to the rotunda and followed the hallway down to the conference rooms. I went around the corner, I found the registration desk.
I registered and then entered Conference Rooms 1 & 2, where I saw Lorrie enjoying some snacks that she got from the buffet set up in the room. I helped myself to the buffet and made myself a plate of nachos, crackers, cheese and meat.
Having briefly left the room, I noticed Aaron Templeton talking to a woman who just arrived. It was none other than Sheryl Roush, speaker, trainer, consultant, Toastmaster and Accredited Speaker. Since it was my job to time her speeches that weekend, I introduced myself to her. She was really sparkling, which is something that I will discuss in more detail a little later in the recap.
I finished the dinner with a plate of desserts that I got from the dessert buffet. A macaron, a gluten-free brownie and a cheesecake dessert. International Director candidate Vera Johnson then began her keynote. She delivered her keynote, titled “Making Connections Across Generations”. With that presentation, it was very informative. It helped bridge the gaps between the older and younger generations. With the differing generations having different ideals and ways of communication, it helped me to understand how ones older and younger than me communicate and think.
After that keynote, the Evaluation Contest began. The target speaker was amazing. And the evaluations were great. A man from Lakeland Toastmasters in St. Joseph, Michigan won. Having heard each evaluation, I understood why he won. His evaluation was solid and he used no notes.
With the Evaluation Contest done, the District Director’s Reception followed. This was next door, in Conference Rooms 3 & 4.
For snacks, I helped myself to a Fruit Napoleon. I had a Sierra Mist and had a nice chat with Sean Fahey and David DeLine. Also at the reception was Michelle DeBuck, who described her goals of having a district position. Upon hearing this, I talked to Aaron and got her connected immediately.
I stayed until 11:30. Overall, it was a lot of fun and the networking was great.
The next morning was breakfast. I entered the ballroom for a plated breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes. I also had a chocolate pastry with some mixed fruit.
Sheryl Roush then made her debut. She gave her first keynote, titled “The Road Map for Success”. In this keynote, she gave us a literal road map of all the different milestones in the Toastmasters journey, beginning at joining and ending at International President. She used a volunteer from the audience, who was the newest member that she could find. Throughout the speech, she guided him throughout the journey, showing him what he can expect on his travels.
Sheryl has an amazing website, and I encourage you to check it out. Visit www.sherylroush.com and be amazed. And then come back here and see the rest of this recap.
I then went to a break out session. I went to Lisa Waalkes’ session, titled “Set Your Leadership On Fire”. In the session, Lisa talked about the different stages in leadership and the characteristics of each one.
Lunch followed, where I was able to enjoy a delicious bacon and lettuce tortilla wrap with a spiral pasta and a fruit tart for dessert. There was also a delicious brownie with edible gold garnish on it.
After lunch, Sheryl gave her second keynote, titled “Sparkle When You Speak”. This presentation covered the seven modalities that different people possess. If you have been reading carefully, I have already utilized most of these already. The seven modalities of learning include visual, kinesthetic, musical, linguistic, mathematical, interpersonal and intrapersonal.
The International Speech Contest followed. Overall, there were some really good speakers, with it being very close between two contestants. In the end, the winner was Dacha’na Blaydes, a member of the Spartan Toastmasters Club in East Lansing, Michigan. Dacha’na got first place with a speech where she talks about falling in and out of love, and the one true love that will never let you down.
After the contest was the Business Meeting. To be honest, I was quite nervous during this part. With the election being one of the agenda items, I didn’t want any surprises in members giving nominations from the floor for E Division Director. Fortunately, I did not hear any nominations for any of the Division Director positions. With that being the case, I heard the announcement. I was elected as the E Division Director, effective July 1st. Different items were discussed, with Michelle DeBuck carefully listening to ensure that parliamentary procedure was conducted properly. During one instance, she made a point of order to correct one of the motions (the particular motion required a second). Much of the time was spent on the budget, but regardless of this, the meeting ended right on time. All in all, the meeting was pretty good.
After the meeting, Lorrie Ito gave her last speech before handing it over to Aaron Templeton, the new District Director for the next year. Aaron than gave his speech and began the installation. The new Administrative Manager was Paul Artele. The new Public Relations Officer was David DeLine. Helen Dotson reprised her role as Finance Manager. Michelle DeBuck got one of the newer roles, since Aaron will be eliminating some of the positions for next year (Club Extension Chair, Corporate Liaison, Club Coach Chair). As most of the Areas are not relevant to the jurisdiction of my Division, I will only list the Areas that are in my Division. For Area 10, it was Elvin McKenney. Area 11 was Niki Perkins. For Area 15, it was Jim Graczyk. Area 16 was Oliver Johnson. This will be my team for next year, and I will do my utmost to learn them all to success.
Dinner followed. I had steak, chicken, asparagus, and potatoes. I then had a molten chocolate cake for dessert.
The DTM ceremony followed, with four Toastmasters getting their awards. This will be something you will hear about in the fall conference this November, so stay tuned.
After the DTM ceremony, Sheryl Roush gave her third keynote, titled “Heart of a Toastmaster”. This was a fun one, since she had Doug Brinker give his impromptu speech on how Toastmasters changed his life. There was one other volunteer that gave a briefer account, but that was about it. Overall, I really enjoyed it.
When this was over, the Line Dancing began. I danced to a few songs. I danced until I was sore, and then stopped. I danced to “YMCA” and “Beat It”. I lipsynched Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” when it came on. I tried to spend my $10 that the hotel gave me at the casino, but they wanted some buy-in with spending a little money myself for that to work. Overall, I spent $5 and lost it. This was unfortunate, considering that I could’ve won $20 if I would’ve just quit. After a little more dancing, I decided to call it a night. The snacks that I had at the dance included kettle chips, tortilla chips, spinach and artichoke dip, and french onion dip. I was tired, and decided to call it a night.
The next morning, I had a plated breakfast of sausage, egg and hash browns, with fruit and the same chocolate icing pastry as yesterday. I listened to Cheryl Roush’s final keynote speech “Speak and Market Like a Pro”. It was an informative speech with a bunch of useful tips for marketing yourself as a professional speaker.
Following that was the last speech. I and everyone else listened to Sean Fahey’s “Manage Your Club with FreeToastHost!”. I loved this session, since he provided some new information about FreeToastHost that I didn’t know about. Overall, it was an inferno.
I then stayed for the conference glows and grows, thanks yous and the announcement of the next conference in Midland, Michigan.
If you didn’t have time to read all that, let me give you the short version. I learned a whole lot this weekend, as did everyone else who was present.
With that, I will now end…
Muse: I loved the fire theme. It reminds me of the fires that I had built next to my cabin. It was different than your fake entry from this last weekend.
Fake? That was real! So I scheduled it in advance. How else was I supposed to leave something like that if I was gone on Saturday? And what are you now? A pioneer? You look pretty rustic.
Muse: Rustic? I live off the land! I don’t have any electricity in my cabin. No computers. No TV. No internet. My dinner is killed fresh and cooked over an open flame! I boil my water and use it for drinking and bathing. You, however, are way too civilized.
For what you’re doing, it would be very difficult to live like that. I don’t have the wilderness survival skills and know-how to be able to pull something off like that.
Muse: It’s because you have lost the knowledge that your ancestors possessed. They lived like this every day a few centuries ago…
They did, but then the different ages came. The Industrial Revolution and the age of electricity and the automobile. All of this changed the world, and there’s no going back.
Well, I’m finishing, okay? I believe that I said everything that I needed to.
Muse: I learned a lot from my conference too…well, she did. I can’t remember much. It’s all a blur… I didn’t sleep well last night. The coyotes kept me up so I’m going to take a nap.
Okay. I’ll let you do that…
Today’s high is going to be 66 degrees and the silver lining is getting this recap done.
To all of you who have ever had a wonderful learning experience, I hope that you all have a fantastic day.
Muse: That conference recap was something amazing. I can barely remember what I learned at my conference. Man, am I tired…