With the beautiful weather of spring and summer my mind naturally begins to wander to days spent on the water or in my garden. However, these warm seasons also bring a multitude of conferences, meetings, and seminars designed to help increase our skill set, enlarge our network circle, and provide opportunities to share our successes with others. I have been attending many of these wonderful opportunities and am thankful for each.
I have a concern though that we, environmental activists, tend to burn out due to lack of rest and of course an overabundance of tasks to be done; and some of the conferences and trainings that I attend can tend to add to this sense of urgency rather than providing opportunities for renewal and inspiration.
Of course when we are planning these events, we want to be able to make the most of the time we have with participants and the money they are spending on travel and fees by providing a wealth of information. I urge planners however, to incorporate some time for fun before, during or after your gatherings! You will not only be providing benefits to the attendees, such as chances to remember why we do what we do, mental and/or physical renewal, and time to build relationships with other attendees out of the “work” mode, but you will likely find that people have a more positive learning experience at the event in general.
At the recent Great Lakes United Annual Meeting I enjoyed the positive effects of this “planning for play” method of conducting a meeting and conference. Incorporated into the schedule each day were times reserved to enjoy kayaking, hiking, birding, or time alone. When I returned to work the following Monday I felt as though I had been renewed by this meeting that incorporated not only a great deal of information and networking, but also time to enjoy the surrounding area. Thanks!