Sunday, September 25, 2016

Birthday Parties are for Everybody.

It only happens once a year. All your friends get together. Moms make sure everyone's hair is parted straight and clothes are pressed, but we all know by the end of the day there will be frosting behind our ears and ice cream stains on our shirts. The gig can be at a roller rink, pool-side in someone's backyard, or at a neighborhood park - the location doesn't matter. Everyone who attends gets a little SWAG, a bit of grub, and at the end of the day, no onlooker could really tell which of the exhausted party goers was the actual guest of honor, because birthday parties are for everybody.

I remember my mom taking me to a birthday party when I was 8 years old. I wasn't a shy kid, but I didn't know a another soul at the party. It was a party for the son of a co-worker, so my mom wrapped a gift, slicked down my hair and threw me into the mix. Funny thing is, looking back, I started the day without knowing anyone and ended the day with two new best friends and a room full of people I'd cross the playground to say hello to.

Fast forward nearly four decades: this week, some of my friends and I are throwing a little shin-dig. It only happens once a year. It isn't in honor of anyone, but is really a celebration of everyone. This is the week of the annually awaited CapCue Techfest. On Saturday, we will be gathering 400 like minded EdTech Educators into one festively decorated location. Each attendee, whom I assume are all kids at heart, will grab a little SWAG at the door, play along in a few games and sessions, and belly up to a catered sandwich somewhere around noon. Just like the once a year celebration of a child's first day: this gig is much more about the time we spend together than the festivities that are planned on our behalf. The unplanned consequences of attending an event like this are often the most powerful: you may attend with the intention of learning something new, but instead connect with a person who becomes that friend who inspires you for years to come.

I hope that everyone who attends this weekend sees an old friend, but, more importantly, I hope that each attendee makes a new one. I hope that we all find ourselves in a room at some point, surrounded by like minded people, laughing at our common misunderstandings, as easily as we spontaneously applaud a presenter who wows us with a life-hack that saves us an hour each work week. The most important part of this particular gig is that it is local: organized by volunteers, promoted by passion and intended for everyone. This is going to be Epic!