It didn't take much arm-twisting to get Jeff to write this article. In true Clarke-ian fashion, it is a humurous, tongue-in-cheek account of Symposium - much like his previous entries in the now-defunct Monitor.
Jeff and I share something in common: a belief that Symposium, while certainly about professional development, is an incredible way to meet new people and build on long-lasting friendships. This fellowship is one of the most important aspects of membership in POAO. At least it is for me, and likely Jeff, and hopefully many of you.
Chances are good you came across Jeff in previous years (and this year) at the Symposium membership table. He was that guy grinning, ear to ear, playfully harassing you to join up for another year. Chances are equally good that you will come across him again, next year, in that exact same place. Be careful though, you just might wind up in a future edition of Symposium Synopsis!
Clarkey - thanks again for your contributions.
Jared Harrington insisted on a Symposium wrap-up article. When the Beard of Knowledge tells you to do something you do it.
Sunday: The program started off with the Wine and Cheese held at the hotel. Gino Franche as MC welcomed all delegates and introduced us to the children of two PO’s in Chatham who presented a video they had prepared on leadership. Great job Ryan and Avery!
Other dignitaries spoke as well, including ADM of the adult Ministry, Marg Welch and DM Stephen Rhodes. Both are excellent speakers and very down to earth folks and it was great to interact with them during the wine and cheese.
After the wine and cheese everyone went to their rooms to put on toques and plaid shirts for the Hospitality Suite (occasionally in the past this has been known as the Hostility Suite depending on the staff on duty at the hotel). Some members went all out and grew beards just to look more “Northern”. As is often the case the hospitality suite was one of the highlights of the conference. It is so great to see all the friends you haven’t seen in a year and also to meet some new ones. I met Vicki Quesnel who claimed to be the webmaster. That’s like claiming to be Spiderman. Anyways, it turned out to be true. What are the odds! I look forward to the new website she is currently developing.
Monday: After a quick coffee at the hotel I attended the “Ontario is Awesome” workshop. Although this seemed to feature primarily youth PO’s it was still good. Ha! Just kidding! It wasn’t good. No seriously it was. The speaker, Jason, had to repeatedly remind us that he grew up in Canada and just happens to “live” in Washington D.C. You would think if Ontario was so “Awesome” he would live here, but whatever.
The Plenary Lunch included interactive component with Tom Moffat proving you can drive a car while texting. Just not very far. Other examples of distracted driving include, adjusting the music, talking to the passenger, breathing or putting on your glasses. Really you might just want to stay home.
In the afternoon an excellent turnout of over 100 attended the Annual General Meeting. Elana Lamesse rode a groundswell of support to return as president. She easily defeated current president Dale Boylan (1-0). I voted against the ballots being destroyed, but I lost that vote. So Dale, I know how you feel.
Monday night’s event was a nice change and involved games at the Palasad in London. Bowling and ping pong were popular but the Laser Tag was the big hit. People you wouldn’t expect it from (Laurie Martindale) dominated! Others you would think would dominate, such as Laura Huggins, were terrible! Not really! I mean I finished ahead of her but that is no insult. Way to go Laura! Maybe next time!
Tuesday: The workshop on Dangerous Offenders was excellent. A Crown Attorney and Police Officer from London provided an interesting insight into the prosecution of Dangerous and Long Term Offenders. One of my former client’s was prominently featured. No doubt he is just misunderstood.
In the afternoon a session on guns and gangs was interesting and PO’s were able to handle various handguns without worrying about accidentally shooting their own foot off, as those in charge assured us there were no bullets.
The banquet was as usual a wonderful chance to showcase the fine work by those in the organization. Central Branch won branch of the year! They had not won this award since 1943 when they were the only branch. Actually I’m sure they have, but I didn't get a good look at the plaque.
Alejandro Avendano (you try spelling it – I ended up looking it up. My first spelling wasn’t even close. And I know him! Good thing I wasn’t in charge of the plaque) was Member of the Year. Alejandro is from Southwest Branch and was an excellent choice for member of the year. He is a great guy and also did a bunch of stuff, none of which I remember.
Jared Harrington won executive member of the year. His beard finished a close second.
An emotional Gino Franche was a great choice to win the Darlene Humeniuk award which is a very important award for many PO’s and those in Southwest in particular.
After the banquet it took roughly 4 hours to get Branch photos organized and taken. A well-attended dance followed before everyone went to bed to rest up for the drive home.
I missed much of the Wednesday morning festivities due to helping at the membership table but did catch a great video presentation advertising next year’s symposium which will be “somewhere in the North”. Thanks for narrowing that down, Terry. We look forward to the trip “somewhere.”
I challenge every PO in the province to sign up one friend or colleague for POAO over the next few months. Maybe they can give you a ride up north.