Thursday, June 24, 2010

Southern California Genealogical Society's 2010 Jamboree: The Conclusion

Can you stand one more post about Jamboree? To give me credit, please realize this is only the second genealogy conference I've been to, and the first one I was so involved in as a committee chairperson that it was difficult to truly relax and enjoy. Also, it's the first non-camping vacation I've had in 10 years and the first non-family traveling vacation I've had since my college years. So if I've gone on in great detail ad nauseum in the last five posts on this topic, please forgive me!

Unlike most attendees, when I returned home from the conference, I did not return to work. As a school staff member, I'm now on summer vacation, which has afforded me a good deal of time to look back on the conference, summarize the benefits, and make some plans for "next time," whenever and wherever that may be.

First of all, my focus for attending this conference was probably a bit different from many others'. My main intention was not (gasp!) to attend a lot of presentations and educate myself further in genealogical research and technology. My two goals were 1) to meet and socialize with my fellow geneabloggers; and 2) to visit my children's paternal ancestor's gravesite. While there were definitely some topics I wanted to learn more about and some presenters I definitely wanted to hear, those goals were secondary this time around. Remember, this was a vacation that I had been planning; one that I had been looking forward to for quite some and whose anticipation kept me sane through a couple of stressful years (you think I'm kidding?).

So what would I do again?

1. If at all possible, I would come early again. Arriving early allowed me to settle in, get my bearings, pick up my pre-registration packet early, and meet friends ahead of the lectures. It also allowed me--an out-of-state traveler--to attend the Friday morning cemetery tour.

2. Take advantage of extra events. I did the cemetery tour and got to visit my children's paternal ancestor's grave, a major goal of my attending Jamboree. The tour itself was interesting and well worth it to learn about local history.

3. Not attend every event. While I did the cemetery tour, I chose not to attend the banquets. For one, they cost extra, and for another, I had heard one of the presenters speak at several banquets at my local conference in September. That's not to say she wasn't worth hearing again (she's one of my favorites!)...but I was able to choose other ways to spend my time and not feel too much like I was missing out. There were times, too, when I chose to sleep in instead of attending morning lectures, or socialize or blog during a presentation time.

4. Social networking. Whether or not you're a blogger, meeting other people at conferences is important. You never know what will become of the friendships you make or how connections might help your research down the road. It gives opportunities for others to meet you, too!

5. Not hurrying out the door. Staying one day extra helped me not feel rushed to leave during the last of the lectures, to have ample time to say good-bye to my many new friends, and allowed me to do some extra sight-seeing, unrelated to genealogy. I also got to visit a gravesite of yet another paternal ancestor of my children. This choice of staying later may not always be available, as my school schedule sometimes clashes with conference times, so I'm glad I had the opportunity this year.

 What will I do next time? Whether it's Jamboree or another conference, here are some ideas I came up with as probable goals:

1. Attend more lectures. Now that I got a lot of my initial geneablogger hobnobbing out of the way, I'll spend more time learning. That isn't to say I won't socialize, because I definitely will. I'll probably combine the two: grab some friends and drag them to classes with me!

2. Get to lectures earlier. I missed one presentation I very much wanted to attend because I didn't get in the door soon enough and it filled up. Note: if a lecturer appears on the program more than once, chances are he or she is very much in demand and their rooms will fill up quickly.

3. Try more technology classes. I went to several at Jamboree, but there's always more to learn! If you're thinking "What's the big deal about Twitter (or Second Life, or Google Earth)?" than you need to check out those classes. They don't offer them without there being very good reason to connect them to genealogy. I definitely want to take some advanced classes on my favorite software, RootsMagic.

4. Visit the local genealogical collection. Don't be fooled into thinking that just because your ancestors never lived in the area that the local genealogical or historical society won't have records or books that pertain to them or to your ancestral locations! A good collection will have resources from all over the country as well as from other countries. Several people I know visited the Southern California Genealogical Society's library and did research, and if I go to Jamboree again, I will definitely put it on my "must-do" list.

There were many times in the past six months when I doubted that attending this conference was the right thing to do at this time. My children's father has been unemployed for over a year, my son still had a couple of days of school to finish, and I always try to be available to my daughter, who's still navigating the waters of young adulthood and independence. To say that the typical "mom guilt trip" didn't hit me about taking off at such a time would not be the truth. I have to say, though, that my family was extremely supportive and encouraging about letting me go and enjoy myself. And I want to take the time to offer my sincere gratitude to a handful of people who helped make this trip go from "simply possible" to "extra special" for me. You know who you are. Mwah!

And now...back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Michelle Goodrum said...

I have enjoyed every single one of your posts about Jamboree. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us!

Greta Koehl said...

Wow, Miriam, did this post resonate with me! I will be attending FGS in August (my first big conference) and am going through all that guilt. But if I don't do it for a conference that is sort of close (TN from VA - not bad) and is sponsored by two states of major research interest for me, then when would I go? Good advice on getting to presentations early and on balancing socializing with education and other events in a way that will be enjoyable.

Tonia said...

Good post! I'll be attending my first genealogy conference in the fall and all these tips will come in handy.

Miriam Robbins said...

Michelle, you are welcome!

Greta and Tonia, enjoy your conferences! I want to hear all about them when you get back.

Thank you all for your kind words.

Jennifer said...


Thanks so much for posting these tips. I am going to the FGS conference (my first land conference) in Knoxville in August, and I have no idea what to expect. I'm glad you mentioned getting to class early. I hadn't thought of that. I'm also glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels a bit guilty about going. I am not a wife or mother, but I am moving this week to North Carolina from Louisiana, and I already have to take off a week for that and another week in September when my sister has her baby. However, we only live once, right? It's hard to pass up since it will only be 5 hours from my new home in NC.

Miriam Robbins said...

Jennifer, you're sure to have the time of your life! Make sure to sign up at so that you can meet up with other geneabloggers while there. :-)

Caitlin said...

I think this is an excellent post, Miriam. Reading everything about it reminds me the importance of being on time in all occasions or events. I always get up late in the morning and most of the time I end up rushing just to catch up my schedule.