The Birth of an Unschooling Conference

It happened in the car.

Isn’t that where most important conversations take place?

We were driving to one of the umpteen places we find ourselves driving on any given weekend, and I was lamenting the fact that we weren’t going to a conference this year.  We’d already decided to pull out of the conference we were going to go to in August, and the conference we’d enjoyed in San Diego for the past few years had been discontinued.  I turned to Mike and said, “Hey, we should put on our own conference.”  I think I was mostly joking.

He shocked me by responding, “We should.”  He wasn’t joking.

It actually wasn’t the first time it had come up.  I always thought it’d be neat idea, and it seemed like there was a hole to fill in the southwest.  But the idea was…. laughable, because I’m the least likely person to organize a conference ever.   I’m a huge introvert, gatherings exhaust me, and I don’t even like to host birthday parties.  In fact, we usually spend too much money to have our kids’ parties at cool places like gymnastics facilities or amusement parks or bowling alleys, largely because all we have to do is show up, and someone else does all the work.  My one act of hosting in an entire year is having my family over for Christmas.  I love it, I do.  But it’s a big deal for me.

So what had changed?   I guess you could just say I was called to do it.  It was a deep in the heart, gut feeling that this was something that I needed to do, and something that I could do well.  And the more I thought about it, the stronger the feeling got.  I tried to talk myself out of it. For days and days I tried to talk myself out of it:  It’ll be a lot of work!  It’ll be stressful!  It’ll be time away from my family!   But there was no turning back and no talking myself out of it.   And when we told the kids, there was nothing but 100% enthusiastic, all-in support.   They were just as excited about the idea as I was.

And so, after about 237  “Are we really going to do this?” comments, we started planning.

That was just over a month ago, and in that time we’ve managed to secure a location, book a date, and sign on ten speakers.  And it has been a lot of work.  It has been stressful.  It has been time away from my family.  In the past few days since I launched the Facebook page, I think I’ve talked to more people through email than I ordinarily do in an entire two months. Thanks to the really surprising and lovely early interest, I’ve also been working like crazy on rolling out the website so that everyone can have as much information as I can give them all in one place.

And we’ve only just begun!

It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life.The idea of having this vision, and taking it through to fruition… to have hundreds of like-minded unschoolers all gathered in one place, playing and learning and sharing and connecting?  At an event that I planned?  Crazy! Absolutely crazy.  I am so excited, and thrilled, and honored, and humbled to think that people want to be a part of this.

I’ve learned so much in just the past month.  Not the least of which is that my husband and I make a really good team.  Where I’m all ideas and dreams and creativity, he’s all business and organization and practicality.   (Let this be a note:  if you ever decide to organize an unschooling conference, it’s incredibly helpful to be married to someone who works in finance.)   I have spiral notebooks filled with lists and notes and scribbled ideas… he has carefully updated spreadsheets that make my head spin.   I say, “I just thought of the absolute COOLEST thing we can have at the conference!!”  He says, “Yeah… that costs like $1000, let’s do this instead.” Yin and yang.  And it works.

I cannot wait to see what the next twelve months will bring.  It’s going to be a wild ride for sure.

And I’m ready.


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Filed under conference, Free To Be, unschooling

2 Responses to The Birth of an Unschooling Conference

  1. Sylvia Toyama

    I love this, and that you’re hosting a conference. A conference that’s close enough for an easy drive, that sounds like something my family will really enjoy! Ten speakers? Wow! I was just happy to hear you have Pam and Jess. I’m looking forward to seeing folks I’ve not seen since 2011, and meeting people in person who I only know online.

  2. Mette

    I just discovered the conference website – this looks so cool. I’m definitely thinking of seeing if that long-dreamed for and maybe-some-day trip to the States that I’ve always been talking about, could be made possible for next year!