The WWA Show is right around the corner and I am celebrating attending my 10th show! I have been lucky to also be a volunteer for the past 9 shows. Why volunteer at this show every year? The reasons are many and each one is very valuable to me. WWA does a great job of providing everything we need during the show. The space is always conducive to learning, the rule of feed them and they will come is followed with snacks and meals throughout the show and there are social events to let us relax and catch up with friends and colleagues. The volunteering aspect for me really puts the “plus” in my experience though.
Volunteers are necessary for this show. The sheer volume of surveys, handouts and attendees and other moving parts are overwhelming. There is an ongoing joke that we are run ragged, and worked extremely hard, but in reality the work is spread out enough and the return on my investment is so great that I often feel I don’t do enough to earn my keep. There are plenty of jobs to fit any skill level and even if you have your spouse along, they can find stuff for them to do if you need to keep them occupied during the session day in what is jokingly called “spouse daycare.”
By checking people in for sessions or social events I meet way more people and have more of an excuse to talk with people and stare at their badges. The general vibe from attendees and speakers is motivating and contagious. I get an early peek at handouts and all the materials in those WWA University sessions and, if I am lucky, I become a “fly on the wall” during those sessions. By handing out and collecting those end of session surveys, it is easy to see which sessions and speakers are providing information on trending topics and how those trends change from year to year. Keeping all those session signs updated and in easy to see places is also part of the job. Sometimes just being in the halls and giving directions to registration, to the restrooms and that one session room that is always tucked down at the end of the corridor is needed. From my first volunteer experience I have always been welcomed, appreciated and valued. Without the option of volunteering, I probably would not be able to take advantage of as many show as I have and I certainly would not have gotten as much out of every show.
If you have not yet committed to attending the show, or even if you have, look into volunteering. You might meet park operators who would not ordinarily attend due to budget reasons. You will meet other long time volunteers who find it as valuable as I do. Since it is hard for my employer send me every year, this is how I make it work and my investment is always worth it. This opportunity is the secret gem to the show, an experience worth trying and a valuable experience that extends beyond the show.
I hope to see familiar faces and hopefully some new ones in the volunteer room this time. Looking forward to great show #10!
Patricia A. Daly
Marion Diehl Recreation Center
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department