I very nearly titled this post ‘What I did at summer camp‘. Last week, I and 450 (+/-) people went to Montreal to join the CES 2015 Annual Conference. It’s fairly often that I find I need to explain to people what evaluation is, where it fits in the world. It’s not difficult, but it’s nearly always at an introductory level. Working remotely or on-site as the external evaluator, there are rarely opportunities to have significant, in-depth, free flowing conversations about what I do or new ideas on how to do it better. Also, I’m a bit of an extrovert. I like being in the same room as people. So conferences are a lot like professional summer camp, heavy on the learning and relationships.
I’ve never understood employers who won’t pay for conferences, at least in part. I’m baffled by those who won’t give time to attend. One needn’t attend everything every year, but there is so much that can be accomplished in such a short period of time when everyone is in the same space. It’s different for the sole proprietor or small non-profit organization that has very limited funds, but really, everyone else should get to something at least every couple of years.