Madison: Part 1

by Judi Sciple
Delaware Technical Community College
Dover, DE

In just day one of their conference in Madison, Wisconsin, District 3 gave me entirely too much material for this blog! The activities and tribulations of their opening evening provided attendees with a great NCMPR story, and we ALL love a great story, right?

The conference was held at the renowned Monona Terrace designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, located on beautiful Lake Monona. The building was designed to reflect the curves of Madison’s Capitol building, a stunning landmark I had the chance to visit earlier that afternoon as I took advantage of some free time to wander around this beautiful city. Conference welcome bags included a keepsake cookbook full of recipes contributed by the District 3 colleges – can’t wait to try some of them!

The opening event was a sunset cruise on Lake Monona, and conference chair extraordinaire, Sara Mackey from Wisconsin Technical College System, kept a close eye on the weather forecast throughout the day. Unfortunately, the reports grew more ominous as the afternoon progressed, calling for rain, wind and lightning. The previous day they had reserved a school bus to transport the group to the dock (which would have been a five-minute walk) just-in-case. I love being part of an organization with so many amazing planners!!

As the group met in the hotel lobby, the rain began and the bus parked in a location that allowed us to board in a protected area. During the short ride to the docks, we were informed that both boats were enclosed, so we would remain dry once aboard. Upon arrival, NCMPR national treasurer Kyle Schwarm and Sara braved the light rain to jog down to the docks and retrieve our captain so that we could stay dry as long as possible. Within 30 seconds, it began to pour buckets, but the two of them returned dutifully to the bus with Captain Pete (pictured right), who gave us our boarding instructions and informed us how to correctly flush the hoppers (or else we might NOT stay dry on the boat!).

Everyone took things in stride, smoothed down wet hair and settled in for our adventure on Lake Monona. To our surprise, the minute we left port, the rain stopped and we were able to use some of the outdoor decks to take in the sights and enjoy the sunset. The next two hours were filled with food, fun, and facts about the area (Lake Monona is the site where Otis Redding’s plane went down) as we networked and learned more about each other.

The sunset was stunning, and the lightning began shortly after. No rain, just lightning. I learned Captain Pete was keeping close tabs on things and was prepared to get us to shore when necessary, so we all settled in and enjoyed the spectacular show. Our boat stayed close to shore and soon we were informed it was time to go in.

Many of us boarded the bus for the short trip back to the hotel, even though it appeared the worst of the rain was behind us. Others chose to walk. I almost walked. The moment our bus reached the hotel, marble-size pellets of hail began to pound the bus, the conference-goers and the pavement. It quickly collected as we gathered inside to determine post-cruise activities. And as we stood there, warm and dry, watching the hail continue for at least five minutes, we heard a very loud group approaching the room – it was the remainder of the D3 folks and they were soaked. Conversations ensued about whether they chose to walk or the bus “abandoned” them, but it was all good natured with smiles and laughter, as people squeezed the water out of their clothes and combed through wet hair. And to me, it was indicative of the closeness that exists among members of NCMPR. Sure, professional relationships are a big part of the organization, but close friendships emerge as well. It was a great evening with a great story that we will remember for years! More to come about day two of the District 3 conference.

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