Monday, August 13, 2007

A few final updates and thoughts on Conclave

If you have ever been to a Sigep Conclave, or any big convention, you know there is more to do than can be done. The various meeting tracks inevitably overlap and you find yourself torn between a presentation that will address some specific need and 'face time' with HQ people or one of the volunteer leaders. Then of course there is the running attempt to catch up with all the folks you only see every 2 years. Makes it tough to report on everything that happens. So with that disclaimer here are some "leftovers" and thoughts about this year's model. It's not all hearts and flowers, either.

Good stuff:

  • The tone of the Conclave was probably as close to the Cardinal Principles as I have seen.
    There were many emotional moments and stories about brotherhood that took my breath away. Archie himself was moved to tears more than once. and even the Citation recipients' speeches, normally rather dry recitations of fantastic career feats, had moving stories of how Sigma Phi Epsilon had changed and directed their lives.
  • Location was good. Easy to get to - a 30 minute train ride from the airport - and lots of affordable eating nearby.
    The hotel was connected to a mall with a food court and there were other restaurants in easy walking distance so we were not held hostage to the $20 breakfasts and $30 lunches so common to hotels.
  • Kudos to HQ for arranging the complementary internet access, which saved the normal $10 a day charge.
    It could have been communicated better, though. A number of us didn't find out about it until after we had set up with the paid service.
    The "Conclave Chronicle" that was under our door each morning was a good idea, too.
  • No major incidents.
    That was no doubt due in part to the very evident presence of "Atlanta's finest" each evening. There was no ordering about, they were just "there".
    However I think that the real intimidation was the other convention. There were about a thousand very Christian, very matronly, and very assertive African-American Ladies on hand for a church convention. Many were adorned not only with large hats, but also with sturdy canes. One or two of those venerable ladies would be intimidating. A thousand of them is downright scary.
  • Oh, yeah. We doubled the money committed to the Educational Foundation endowment.
    Over lunch.

Not good stuff:

  • The hotel A/C was apparently not set up to handle the 100 degree heat we experienced.
    My room was always hot during the day, even with the A/C on full. The meeting rooms tended to get a bit 'close' for the well attended sessions.
  • The Tabernacle was a bad venue for anyone who was not in good shape.
    The lack of accessibility started at the front steps and continued with steep stairs and no elevators. The air conditioning there was not up to the task, either.
  • Scheduling seemed to be a problem that just wouldn't go away.
    In the printed program there were sessions that were listed as overlapping with main events.
    The guest tour was originally set to return about 15 minutes before another event. The ladies who were planning to attend that event stood firm and they changed plans to get back in time for them to get ready.
  • The "Suite 16" reception that was an incentive to get more people from chapters to sign up was summarily canceled at the last minute.
    Sure, Charlie Engle, the guest of honor, had to leave early, but the reception could have taken place anyway. The "Suite 16"-ers felt cheated.
  • There was a difference of opinion about whether it was possible to get separate tickets to the Saturday Awards Banquet.
    One person claims he was turned down when he tried to buy a ticket, another was able to bring a guest at the last minute. Whatever the policy is, it should be cearly stated and consistantly applied.
  • To make the problem of scheduling SNAFUs worse, the major events did not keep to the times they stated either.
    The Brotherhood Lunch went over so long that the ritual preparation sessions had to be practically cut out.
    The Awards Banquet that was 'supposed' to get out at 9:45 ran until almost 11:30. If you know the event is going to run long just say so.

Overall, though, it was a fantastic experience. The good stuff more than outweighs the bad. There was a change in personnel at HQ in the event planning area recently and some of the issues are no doubt due to the transition and will be better next time. let's hope they find a way to keep the good stuff and fix the bad.

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