The conference was run by the Connecticut Homeschool Network. The Connecticut Homeschool Network is a statewide inclusive homeschooling group. I can't say for sure, but it seems like a rather quiet group. The conference was the most I had heard from them. The cost was quite reasonable. There were a number of homeschoolers giving talks. I did go to one lecture and I let Flurpee choose from a number of interesting talks.
Flurpee picked one about public speaking and Toastmasters. The talk was supposed to be about how adults and homeschoolers can benefit from Toastmasters but most of the parents (as you can imagine) wanted to know how to teach their kids public speaking skills. We did learn about a Toastmasters Youth Leadership program. It sounds very interesting. While our speaker had not run a group for youth, he did give us some information about it. I would like to note that the talk was given by Mike Arons, with some input from Judy Arons. I got to meet the owner of one of the blogs I follow regularly.
The Toastmasters Youth Leadership program is run with the help of a local Toastmasters member. They would serve as a coach for a group of kids (up to 25, but seems like around 10 or so would work much better) on public speaking for 8 sessions (probably every two weeks). The kids would mimic the format of an adult club and thus would get to experience different sorts of leadership roles as well as learning some Robert's Rules of Orders. The cost would be limited to some materials provided by Toastmasters (very reasonable, about $10 per child) and the adult member volunteers. As far as age limits, the speaker felt that the kids should be able to write and he thought 12 might be a good age. On the Toastmasters site they have an article about 10 year olds going through the program.
Although I thought I would like to get to more talks, I enjoyed watching Flurpee learn something different and meet a new friend. (Whose mom assures me that I should potty train Bamm Bamm this summer and her kids were potty trained at 11 and 16 months or something.)
Here is the representative of Two Coyotes, a nature program in south-western Connecticut demonstrating how to start a fire using friction.
Here is the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) demonstrating and discussing medieval armor and weapons. The SCA is full of people who enjoy reliving and recreating the age of knights. Although I thought the presentation was very disjointed, the kids really perked up when the presenters passed around some chain mail, plate armor gauntlets, arrows, and a sling. There were some geeky point-of-pride vocabulary corrections (not Vikings, viking is a verb, they were Norsemen) and disdain for popular characterizations (the aforesaid Norsemen would never have had horned or winged helmets because the ornamentation would catch a head blow instead of deflecting it...no matter how cool they look. Of course I wanted to know if it was true.).
Here is a plate armor recreation. The arm, hands, and leg guards (not shown) were made from shiny metal. The body (shown here) was covered plastic barrel parts cut to mimic the armor.
I don't know if I could picture Flurpee as a fierce warrior.
After the armor and weapons demo (which became much more interesting for Flurpee as I pointed out which weapons and armor she used on her Dungeons and Dragons character and why they were two-handed or one-handed and why leather is weaker than plate armor), she got to play chess. That's when she met a new friend. After chess she mostly played with the new friend. I was very ready to leave by then.
It was ironic that a homeschool conference was held at a high school. Funny things: the classroom set aside for the talk I attended had a bunch of those educational posters up. There were about 10 math posters, about 12 science posters, about five health posters, a couple of history posters, some grammar posters, and even more. There was not a bare area on the walls. We could not figure out what subject was taught in that room. I wish it was so in the room for the medieval armor demonstration. The room was used for health and they had recently gone over human reproduction and had left their blackboard notes up. I'm guessing that was an education some parents weren't expecting for their own children.
Another thing I got to observe was the horrendous condition of some of the school. I am not petty, so I expect dirty grout, old fixtures, and scraped up paint. What I was not expecting was the shoddy job done by school employees. Check out the paint job below. There was not even an attempt to keep from spreading the newer black paint onto other surfaces.
In this case, it is the opposite side of the door that is painted black.