By Pat Wray
It’s time to sign up for this year’s annual OWAA conference at Jay Peak Resort in Vermont!
Jay Peak is at the northern tip of Vermont, a stunning area close to the Canadian border. It’s delightfully remote, just an hour and a half from the Burlington airport and shuttles will be provided at a very reasonable rate. The Montreal airport is equally close to Jay Peak and many will find flying into Montreal more affordable. My wife and I intend to spend a few days in Montreal as part of our conference plans and rent a car for our travel south. If you choose to do the same, remember to bring your passport.
As for the venue, Jay Peak Resort is a premier New England resort, almost a town onto itself with wonderful facilities, restaurants, ski lifts and even an internal, full-sized waterpark. Set in a beautiful forested area, the complex connects to miles of hiking and biking trails.
Our agenda is one of the best we’ve had in years, with three keynote-level speakers, including Bill McKibben, one of the world’s best known and most powerful voices on climate change, Doug Ladd, an exceptional speaker and authority on humanity’s place in the natural scheme of things, and Shane Mahoney, one of the most dynamic speakers in the country, who’ll be speaking twice during the conference.
Our newsmaker sessions are cutting edge and timely. They include sessions on native fish restoration, invasive species, dam removal, guns in America, ocean conditions and loving nature to death.
And then we have a secondary newsmaker thread which incorporates several presentations on disaster preparation, to help you, your family and your audience prepare for disasters of different types.
Our craft improvement program is robust, with sessions on journaling, how to make your web presence pay, an artist in residence program, working on company publications, taking and editing video on your cell phone and writing for kids. Our Meet the Editors program will offer new opportunities as a whole new crew of editors joins us for the first time.
And our photography options are more numerous and stronger than ever. We’ll have sessions and workshops on landscape photography, a photography walk, presentations on smaller, lighter cameras as well as on 4/3 cameras and their use. Finally, world renowned photography team Joe and Mary McDonald will be judging our Photo Scavenger Hunt.
We’re offering outdoor skills sessions and demonstrations, both during 15-minute mini-sessions and longer workshops. The mini-sessions will cover knot-tying, developing a go-bag for disasters and how to respond to attacks by different wild animals (and by humans too). Longer workshops will offer a layer cake approach to understanding landscapes, how to survive an unplanned night in the woods, wilderness medicine, how to improve your casting technique and a very special presentation on OWAA’s past, present and future. This workshop will include a historical perspective as well as incorporate audience views for our organization’s future.
Breakout Day will offer the traditional fare, only more than you’ve seen for years. It will incorporate a whole array of training that you’ve never seen before, including gutless field dressing, how to set snares, how to make ‘bulletproof’ coffee and how to hygienically deal with human excrement in camp (which is always a fun topic).
And speaking of fun, even if you don’t try surfing in the water park, you’ll find yourself singing, dancing and laughing more than ever. The President’s Reception will feature the Bayley Hazen Boys, a popular New England bluegrass group, Matthew Dickerson and friends will sing during a dinner reception and we’ll top it off with a dozen of our own members telling their favorite stories at our First Annual OWAA Storytime during the Leftover Luau.
Finally, Local Chair Gary Moore put together a wonderful list of pre- and post-trips, which include Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s agreement to offer free short-term fishing licenses to OWAA active members.
In short, this conference offers something for every OWAA member, especially you.
Register today and make your room reservations while you’re at it. See you in Vermont!