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Camp Habitat 2019 Recap

Camp Habitat 2019: Expanding Our Reach has come and gone, and it feels like a bit of a whirlwind now! As with any big event, after months and months of planning, you blink and it’s over. Before we hit the ground running working on next year’s conference (yes, it takes that much work ahead of time), we wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights of our time at Black Mountain this September, as well as some lessons we learned along the way. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the turnout, with more than 200 folks joining us over the course of the week. We had a 54% increase in conference registrations over last year and a 40% increase over our previous record highest attendance.

Representatives from 45 of North Carolina’s 64 affiliates were there, and that’s also a record for us! We’re very pleased to reach these benchmarks because it means more of our affiliates are accessing the professional development and training opportunities that we work so hard to provide. Habitat NC is always striving to help staff and volunteers around the state become even better resources for their homeowners and communities, and we hope those of you who joined us left with good information that you can implement at home.

Keynote speaker Richard Moore addresses the attendees on Wednesday morning.

Highlights

  • The Executive Director Congress: EDs from across the state gathered on Thursday to chat about common issues and strategies. The general consensus was that this conversation proved to be very productive with affiliates demonstrating positive and cooperative energy.
  • Keynote Speaker, Richard Moore: Richard charmed the crowd with his warmth and humorous approach. In explaining First Bank’s new program to originate and purchase affiliate mortgages (at a 2% discount), he made it clear that the bank hopes to expand the program well beyond its own footprint in the state. Such a partnership between First Bank and a sizable number of affiliates represents a potential “whole new ballgame” in terms of providing affiliates with access to capital on a routine basis—and allowing them to build more houses.
  • Craft Beer Social, hosted by Asheville Area Habitat: Stephanie Wallace, the Volunteer Manager for Asheville Area Habitat, organized a fantastic social event on the first night of the conference, complete with craft beers from nearby breweries (Asheville is “Beer City, USA,” after all) and delicious cupcakes. The Camp Habitat 2019 koozies were a hit, too!
  • Opportunities for learning and networking: So many conversations happened throughout the week and professional connections, as well as friendships, blossomed. This fellowship is one of our favorite things about Camp Habitat.
  • Fire pits and rocking chairs: Need we say more?!
The fire pits in front of the Blue Ridge Assembly proved to be a great place to unwind and get to know each other at the end of a long day.

Learning Experiences

  • We definitely want to repeat the ED Congress in the future, hopefully during a time when it doesn’t conflict with other valuable workshop sessions.
  • Next year we’ll label workshop sessions as being helpful for “small”, “medium”, and “large” affiliates, as well as whether the information is targeted at those new to Habitat or more seasoned Habitat professionals. That way you can have a better idea going into a session if it might be helpful for you.
  • Keep an eye out for a “Vendor Scavenger Hunt” next year: folks who go to all the vendors and get a sticker from them will be entered to win a special prize!
  • Wherever we hold the conference, we’ll be sure to have plenty of signs pointing you in the right direction to get to the different meeting rooms!

Overall, we are extremely pleased with how well Camp Habitat 2019 went and the feedback we got from our attendees. We’ll be using this momentum going forward into 2020, and are excited to bring our affiliates even more great services in the coming months!

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