Almost a week and a half later and I still feel like I am coming off the high that is National Convention! Saskatoon 2017 was an experience of a life time and I now understand why the more seasoned convention goers continue to attend Nationals year after year.
Like most people who are traveling to a new place to participate in something that is completely different from their normal day to day life, I was a little nervous and apprehensive in the days and hours leading up to our arrival in Saskatoon. Thoughts running through my mind included the typical things we think about when we are stepping out of our comfort zone like “I hope I make new friends while I’m there”, “I hope I don’t fall on my face and embarrass myself too badly”, and “I hope I’m able to measure up to my fellow Progressions and show them how much Progress means to me!”
Well for those of you who know me, you know that I got the “falling on my face and embarrassing myself” part out of the way pretty quickly but my other hopes or fears for convention took a little longer to realize.
Like falling on my face, making new friends came easier than I thought it would too. Everywhere we went and with each additional session or luncheon we attended we were welcomed with open arms by the other Progressions who had gathered from across the country to attend convention. The newbies were taken under the wings of the past National Presidents during Rookie Camp and were taught the history of Progress as well as the importance of comradery and friendship in our organization.
The themes of comradery and friendship were present in abundance throughout convention as members from all clubs took the time to introduce themselves and learn about each of our backgrounds. There was never a time during the 6 days we were at convention that I felt like I couldn’t walk up a group of Progressions, whom I didn’t necessarily know, and join their conversation or hang out with them. Being able to do that amongst groups of adults is extremely rare and it made me realize just how much Progress truly is like family. We look out for our own and are happy to welcome in new members to our growing clan.
My last concern, about wondering whether I’d measure up and be able to show my fellow Progressions how much Progress means to me, was extinguished during the National Awards luncheon on Saturday when I was received my Mercury Award! This type of recognition gave me the opportunity to show my commitment to Progress and my dedication to helping us grow and reach new heights. Although I strongly believe that Progress is not an organization that requires recognition for all the good work it does across the country, I do see the importance of working towards a goal such as the Mercury or Diamond Mercury Awards. These types of awards are put in place to build our members confidence in their abilities and help them to step into something that’s greater than themselves and their clubs. Receiving my Mercury Award has made me feel like I do measure up to my fellow Progressions in the sense that we were all new members at one point in time and we’ve been able to grow into the leaders we are through the help of our Progress family across the country.
All in all, my first National Convention is something I will cherish in my memories for the rest of my life and I am so thankful for the opportunity to meet new friends from across the country and become closer with my own club members! My convention experience was something I have a hard time explaining because it was almost too amazing for words. I am happy to be able to share the few words that I have been able to string together in hopes that they inspire more of my fellow club members to consider taking a chance and attending a Progress National Convention.