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On Being A SCBWI BI Conference Volunteer

February 7, 2018

CLARE TOVEY

John O’Leary has already talked about his experience of attending last November’s Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles region annual conference at Winchester to run a workshop – an event I helped to organize, and will be doing so again in 2018. This will be my fourth year helping to organize the conference as an illustrator committee volunteer!

Planning for the conference in November early in the year with a Conference Committee meeting, which is a great opportunity to meet fellow SCBWI Conference volunteers from all over the country, and be able to “put faces to the names” that you will be working with all year. A huge amount of planning goes into making the Conference happen: it is great to be part of the talented team of 20 + volunteers who do the work.

Fairly obviously, the Conference takes up a lot of time in the couple of weeks preceding it as the final details are put in place – and the last minute glitches of suddenly unavailable speakers are dealt with. (Life happens!)

There is also intermittently a lot to do much earlier in the year, lining up potential speakers, sorting out dietary requirements, the programming of the event, work shop equipment, book lists, and so on. Luckily, I enjoy this kind of detailed work, and modern technology helps us all as a team to keep on the same page.

Then at the Conference it’s different type of work: welcoming our speakers, making sure everything is set up for them, and guiding them to the right place at the right time. Plus generally helping out with anything else that may need doing!

Experience has shown that it is important for me to map out my conference, too, and make sure I get to do the workshops and fringe events I especially want to do. (The Friday Sketch Crawl being my favourite.)

To sum up, being a SCBWI Conference volunteer is both a lot of hard work throughout the year, and a lot of fun. An extra bonus for me is that having a job to do helps me to overcome my slight shyness in crowds.

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