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BY BILL GRAHAM
Are you ready for Alaska’s beauty and adventure? Registration opened Sept. 1 for perhaps the most unique and outdoorsy conference in OWAA’s history. We’ll be gathering Sept. 4-6, 2012, at Chena Hot Springs Resort, about 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Several reasons prompted OWAA headquarters to open registration a year in advance, which is almost six months earlier than normal for an annual conference.
For one thing, the conference registration opening coincides with Alaska’s opening day for waterfowl season and many other hunting seasons, from grizzly and caribou to moose and grouse. Chris Batin, who has long chronicled the state’s outdoors, says the fishing is also splendid in autumn.
We hope early conference registration also encourages you to start planning pre-and post-conference trips. In order to best explore the Last Frontier in September 2012, you will need to have plans arranged by the end of 2011. For more on that, read Batin’s article on the next page. He will be contributing regular updates to OU regarding possibilities, which are tremendous.
Furthermore, Chena Hot Springs resort is billed as “rustic,” and that’s one reason why we chose it: to be closer to the outdoor experience that brought us to this craft. But the hotel has less than 200 beds available in the main building, and those rooms will be distributed first come, first served. OWAA headquarters will handle all rooming requests to make sure members’ needs are met. This might mean sharing a room with a good friend. There will also be well-insulated yurts and wall tents available for those seeking a true outdoor experience. Such accommodations will be on the resort’s property, close to all amenities. Plus, our local hosts envision recreational vehicles and attendees’ tents circled around campfires. Out of all these options, if you know that a hotel room is the best fit for you, make arrangements as soon as possible.
As usual, we’ll be inviting outstanding speakers and planning craft improvement sessions. We’re working with OWAA supporters in hopes of making outdoor gear available for true testing on hiking, camping, hunting and fishing trips.
We’re taking over the resort and will have all the space at our disposal to host events, both indoor and outdoor.
Chena offers wonderful hot springs to soak in, beautiful displays of the northern lights across the horizon, resort activities and many intriguing thermal energy innovations. I encourage you to check out www.chenahotsprings.com.
We’re unsure what to expect in terms of attendance, and whether we have a large group or small, it will be an unforgettable experience. OWAA headquarters and our hosts in Alaska are working on contingencies to accommodate everyone who wants to attend. My goal as conference chair is to follow through on this plan.
This promises to be among the most memorable OWAA conference ever. Just remember, the wise will register early.♦
A member since 1985, Bill Graham is OWAA’s second vice president and the 2012 conference program chair. He is also media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. Contact him at email@example.com.