Dear OWAA Member:
The Board of Directors met this Monday, April 20 and made the very difficult – but unanimous – decision to postpone until 2021 our conference, originally scheduled to be held in June at Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort.
We came to this decision after a great deal of discussion and consideration of the short-term and long-term implications. Uncertainty over the future of travel in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact led us to conclude that proceeding with the conference would not be responsible, and would not be in the best interest of our most valuable asset – you, our members.
This decision was not taken lightly. The conference is the highlight of the OWAA year. Personally, I look forward to attending to learn new techniques, listen and connect to industry leaders, and interact with other members and renew friendships.
I am, however, pleased to announce that Jay Peak Resort will now be our 2021 conference location. Options for 2022, including Snow Mountain Ranch in Winter Park, Colorado (the original host for 2021) are under review. So, while we are extremely disappointed to have to cancel the 2020 conference, the health and well-being of our membership is, and always will be, our number one priority.
- We will be issuing conference registration refunds in full. Members who have registered already can expect to receive a refund by the end of next week.
- The annual Excellence in Craft award winners will be announced virtually this year. We’ll be sharing those details in the upcoming weeks.
- For more information about the cancellation, you can visit our FAQs page here.
- If you reserved a room at the resort and have not canceled yet, your reservation(s) will be moved to the 2021 date range with the rates adjusted. Guests will be able to call in to cancel, change or ask questions when Jay Peak opens back up in June 2020.
- Also, please note that our April/May Outdoors Unlimited edition will have conflicting conference info as it was printed prior to our decision to not move forward with the conference.
Our team will now turn conference planning efforts to 2021, working to make it a great opportunity for us all to reconvene in person again and launch us all back into our previous, ‘normal’ work. Additionally, the board has created an ad hoc Online Content Development Committee to leverage thought leadership from members and industry partners through various digital platforms. The committee, along with OWAA staff, will explore new digital content offerings and virtual opportunities such as online workshops, webinars, seminars and expanded social media options for OWAA members.
We know not having those in-person connections will be difficult and nothing can replace our annual conference, but I also believe that we can make the most of this time period by expanding our content offerings and using technology as a tool to help members stay informed and connected. This will also ultimately better position OWAA for the future. Our team has already been working to expand or upgrade many of our technology platforms, so this will be an opportunity to provide additional resources to you and add even more value to your membership by creating new assets.
As outdoor communicators, we are resourceful and resilient. Rest assured, we will get through this and we will get through it together. While this has been a time of uncertainty, economic insecurity, distance and disease for many, it has also forced us to focus in on what’s important—quality time with family and friends, helping others, and taking part in experiences that bring us joy. For most of us, this includes a common backdrop – the outdoors.
I believe that our work to share the outdoor experience with the public is so important in these times. Whether it’s a hike in a nearby park during their work-from-home lunch hour, a canoe trip with a friend (staying six feet apart of course) or taking that first family fishing trip, more than any time in recent memory, many people are experiencing a renewed appreciation for being outside. We as outdoor communicators can help cultivate and cement that appreciation for a lifetime.
Thank you for your understanding and your continued support of OWAA.
Stay safe and healthy out there!