|Part of PA 4-H delegation to National 4-H Congress 2012|
Ok -so check out this picture. It's part of the PA delegation getting their 4-H Swag on at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Look closely... Do you see it?
While many others were chasing the Christmas buys of the year on Black Friday, I was beginning my adventure at the Harrisburg International Airport! We had to check-in with our group of ten by 5:30 am! Not sure what to expect, I boarded the plane in anticipation of this years National 4-H Congress. I had heard reports from other friends who attended in prior years that is was "life-changing", "amazing", and much more. So far, I haven't ever been disappointed in any of the opportunities that 4-H has afforded me, so I was very excited and honored to have been selected to attend this year.
For my county, there were only two delegates afforded this trip. So, the trip began with the usual, oh my, we need an ice-breaker here feeling. At first, there wasn't a lot of "meshing", but we were all getting along just fine. We landed in Atlanta, rode the train, and arrived at the magnificent hotel complete with five glass elevators transporting visitors to one of over 22 floors! After getting settled in, we grabbed lunch, played cards, began "meshing", and got ready for a night full of events. First up was dinner, then a state meeting, a pin exchange with many of our country's finest 4-H'ers, and then we were treated to a speaker. If you haven't been to any 4-H events with public speakers, please take the time to do so, whether it's for State Leadership Conference, State Achievement Days, or any other event! On this night, our speaker, Dan Thurmon, spoke to us about how to become a "Catalyst for Change", the theme of the conference. He was fantastic! His message was to never underestimate yourself. Don't ever think that your younger kids in your club aren't looking up to you, because they are. Set goals for yourself, always add to your list of goals, and don't be afraid to fail, it's how you learn. Ok, we all got a lot out of this day and we still had four more days to go!
For our second day, we began with a state flag ceremony and several workshops including team-building, speed meeting, baking, diversities, Pilate's, robotics, and more. Later in the day, we were treated to an international dinner and a dance. I enjoyed trying all of the different foods from so many different countries and the food was amazing!
Some of the highlights on Sunday included an Inspirational Assembly delivered by a Holocaust survivor, very powerful and something that so many of us really should hear to appreciate all of the blessings in our lives. He touched everyone of us as you could hear a pin drop in a room full of teenagers. Our lunch was at the Fire of Brazil, another new experience. Following lunch, I attended workshops and would you believe, I had a "baking workshop"? After that lunch? Oh boy! I was stuffed! Before I had any room in my stomach, it was time for dinner at the Atlanta History Center. We didn't just eat, there were great shows!
On Monday, we started with breakfast and then attended community service events. I was assigned clean-up at a park in Atlanta. I was struck by the fact that all the 4-H'ers that worked that day accomplished as much as one person working an entire year, and we weren't even there that long. They were very appreciative of our attendance. We then went on tours of Atlanta. The one I experienced was the Coca Cola Factory. Later that day, we had a Gala and dance. Remember me telling you about those needed "ice-breakers"? Well, they weren't needed anymore.
Sadly, Tuesday was our last day, but in usual 4-H fashion, we were treated to another speaker, Dan Clark. He talked to us all about words and how they really influence us. He also delivered a story about his version of "The 4-H's". He, like all the other speakers, was very impressionable to say the least and I took a great deal from each of them. Like all good things, our time came to an end. Everyone had a great time and our trip home that day, you would have thought that we had been friends for years! If you are ever asked or invited to go to National 4-H Congress, GO! One more thing, the picture at the openning of my article - we are spelling 4-H.