From age 6 to 16, I spent a few weeks of my summer each year at camp. It was a marvelous time. As soon as the weather would warm up in the spring, I’d begin to anticipate being with my “camp friends” again. I would get so excited about going that I’d pack my suitcases a full month in advance. My friends and I would exchange letters—yes, the real kind with a stamp that would take a couple of days to arrive--to plan our camp adventures (and our wardrobe).
Each summer, I’d always make new friends, and the circle of camp friends would expand. There was a core group of us that attended every single summer. Sometimes, those few short weeks at camp were the only time I’d see those friends for the whole year. But, we were tight. We still are. Some have settled far away. Others are still close to home. But, thanks to the magic of Facebook, we keep in touch and continue to share life’s important events.
Many years have passed since those wonderful, fun-filled days of summer camp. I am privileged to have a career in human resources and run a thriving consulting practice. And, now as the weather warms up, I find myself yearning for the HR Florida State Conference. It’s my new, professional, summer camp. Those days spent in Orlando with other HR pros heighten my awareness of workplace issues, enhance my compliance skills, enlighten me to employee engagement opportunities, and sharpen my leadership skills. In general, I come away a better person.
But, that’s not all. I have also developed great relationships with the other attendees. Just like I used to do all those years ago at summer camp, every year I make new acquaintances and reunite with those who are already good friends. Those associations are priceless. Throughout the year, we continue to connect at SHRM chapter meetings or through workplace associations. We have become trusted professional resources.
I’m getting excited! I’m looking forward to, once again, spending time with my “conference friends.” I’m checking out the conference website frequently to watch for updated content. I’m e-mailing my conference friends to plan our arrival times, conference session schedules, restaurant choices, and yes, even our wardrobe!
I hope you’re looking forward to it, too. Look me up when you arrive. I’ll be there, and I’d love to swap conference stories and grow my circle of conference friends.
I’ll see you in Orlando.
Joyce Chastain, SPHR