You: Hey Cyn, why is this the unofficial recap?
Me: Because it’s just my experience. Everyone had a different experience. I understand that some leaders stayed at the hotel, others saw family, others went out downtown! This is just what I saw and experienced. But I do know one thing for sure:
We Came. We Learned. We Wore Babies.
We even wore babies that were not our own in borrowed carriers…
It was an incredible weekend and now that I’ve had some time to digest it, I thought I’d share some thoughts on our adventures in Retreating (not a conference*).
On Friday night, we had a stash chat and welcome. And you know what they say about Texas… everything is bigger in Texas. THIS huge pile of beautiful carriers had me shocked from the moment I walked in (late, because… #lifewithsmallchildren).
It was tremendous. I got to try quite a few pretties. And even took a dive Scrooge Mc Duck style. (If you don’t understand the reference, don’t tell me. It’ll make me feel old.)
Saturday came and with it a FULL day of learning.
Jennifer Hoover started us off in the morning and her presentation was one of my favorites. Hearing how other organizations change and grow was insightful. Her dedication to personal interactions with volunteers was inspiring (and gave me some ideas)!
Next was Joanna Mc Neilly. Yall, had I known that for most of the conference, I was seated at the same table with someone with this depth of knowledge on Kangaroo Care, I would not have brought my toddler so I could have asked WAY more questions. Notice I’m in the back of the room trying to settle her. This was an incredible, informative, and scientifically-based presentation. I’ve always known that having my baby close makes them happy, Joanna was able to teach me WHY. Notice everyone else frantically taking notes. Yeah, it was that good.
Next was me. I was just happy to be able to share the information I had. For two years now, I’ve been collecting information on and researching the liability law of babywearing education. It felt awesome to have people with which to share my knowledge. I was humbled and honored to be included with these presenters.
Heather Pencil presented a truncated version of her speech on teaching to various group sizes, because our lunch ran late. I didn’t even get a picture! But Pencil has been educating groups large and small for years! Maybe I’ll have her write a blog post about it (hint hint).
Our final presenter on Saturday was Carol Wheeler on conflict and conflict resolution. Oh, I mean Professor Wheeler. That’s right, she teaches this stuff at a college level. She tried to truncate her entire course and left us wanting MORE! Do you think she’d notice if I snuck into her classes? With my giant toddler? Probably.
Saturday night we had a group social where everyone had dinner and the babies ran wild!
Sunday also meant that we were honored to hear Angelique Geehan start a dialogue about social justice. A primer to hear and be heard, respectfully and with compassion. Also, I will never think of stepping on some one’s feet quite the same way.[THIS is where I slacked off on taking pictures, sorry]
There was a Q&A with the President of the Board of Directors of BWI National, Heather. It was inspiring to hear where she sees the organization heading and her accessibility and openness was impressive.
A presentation on balancing non-profit and for-profit roles by Krystal Fare of BWI San Antonio.
A crowd-favorite was a presentation by our own Leigh on cultural-specific and regional-specific carriers.
Then Angelique and Krystal combined forces and taught the group how to really “go pro.” Professionalizing oneself in this emerging industry.
At the same time, I spoke about blogging. I cried, yall. It’s an emotional outpouring. Really.
The end of Sunday was by far the best. In an industry that has such a short life span for any particular wearer, the loss of history and institutional knowledge is a real thing. I had never heard of Vesta Garcia. You haven’t either? Well, she’s only the woman who brought wrap production to the United States. She founded the first American Wrap Company, Ellaroo, in 2002. I don’t want to age myself too much, but in 2002, I was not legal to drink alcohol! My worn babies were not even a figment of my imagination. If I had been asked what a rebozo was, I might have answered that it was a “bozo” that happened again. Vesta Garcia was a “mompreneur” before the term was even coined. (No, really.)
She also happens to be the inaugural Executive Director of the Babywearer Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA). She lobbied for years on behalf of babywearers and manufactures and was an integral part of getting industry standards established.
She is one of the giants upon who’s shoulders we stand as an industry, and I had never heard of her. I’m glad I can make that statement in the past tense. It was my great honor to hear the story of how we got here straight from the horse’s mouth, per say. To hear of the heart wrenching set backs, the disparaging amount of red tape, the sweat, blood, and tears that made babies safe. The tremendous effort that brought us through bag slings and into an era of legitimacy. At the same time, it was heartbreaking to hear how much more we have to go.
There is so much more to do, but after meeting the faces of the future of babywearing education throughout the state of Texas, I am encouraged that the future worn babies are in good hands. Thank you, babywearing educators, industry leaders, sponsors, manufacturers, and friends. It was an incredible retreat*
*If I had a dollar every time I heard Lori say that this was “not a conference,” over the course of the last three months, I’d have enough dollars to buy a stunning carrier, or an old used car. And despite her attempt to minimize the happenings of this weekend, the truth is that she put on a tremendous conference. Her team was hardworking, helpful, hospitable, and detail-oriented. Sure, we ran late, had to deal with crying babies, and my darn laptop didn’t want to work; but, that did not change the fact that this was one tremendous conference. Thank you to all involved.