Back in 2018 sometime, I suggested to my boss that I go to the Children’s Pastors Conference to look for resources that would provide ideas for our lessons. That evolved over time into my attending with 17 women, including the curriculum team, the children’s writing team, and student ministry. Here’s the group except for Young who took the picture. The fact that I was the only guy was brought up often, but not to the degree that it became annoying or awkward. They made me sit in the chair. We had a catered meal for lunch on all three days and for supper on days one and three. It was in the suite where the picture was taken, and the food was tasty and plentiful—gyros, pizza, pasta, etc.
The conference was in Orlando at the Caribe Royale, about three miles from Disney World.
My room was a suite in the wing off to the right in the photo above. That building is one of three. There was also the reception building, which had several restaurants, four smaller “towers” with larger suites, and the huge conference center. I spent as little time in my room as possible. I didn’t spend any time in the front room except to pass through.
My fifth-floor window looked out on Tower III and the pool area.
CPC hasn’t changed much since I was last there to work in the booth in 2016 or since I last attended in 2011. The same ministries have booths in the resource center. The same speakers give pretty much the same messages. It’s lively and friendly and here and there I find a worthwhile idea to think about for work or for my personal life.
Awana had a booth, manned mostly by people I didn’t know. I probably saw 20 former coworkers, but the only ones I got in significant conversations with were Arlyn and Marcy Nies, Tom and Marti Chance, and Carla Hutson. I felt no longing to be back with the ministry or working in a booth.
For the record, I did find two books in the resource center that we purchased for ideas, so I feel like my purpose for going was achieved. Everyone else thought it was good too, but the consensus is that it was too expensive and that we probably won’t return. So goodbye CPC. It’s been fun.
The schedule was pretty full all three days. There was an hour in the morning between dawn and the first session. There were 20-30 minute breaks between sessions and after lunch. There was an hour break mid-afternoon. By the time the evening breaks came along, it was dark out.
The hotel sits in typical Florida swampland. There was a large pond by the entrance, a second pond in back of the hotel, and a lake behind the resort next door. I grabbed every chance I had to be outside looking for birds (see next post).
Here’s the large pond next to the entrance as seen early on Thursday morning.
This is the pine grove beyond the pond on Tuesday morning when the air was simply wet.
This is the scrub that ran all along the back of the hotel.
This is the pond behind the hotel, complete with Anhinga. This bird was never more that 20 feet from this spot in the three days I was there. I also saw Snowy Egrets and White Ibises roosting in the bare trees on the left.
And this is the lake behind the neighboring resort. It was generally pretty lifeless.
These are the five places I headed for every chance I had, and pretty much in that order. If I had more time, I continued to the next spot. I always started at the big pond because it usually had some interesting bird swimming or wading in it. I made it as far as the lake three or four times.
I rented a truck on Wednesday and drove to Disney Springs during the afternoon break. A Roseate Spoonbill had been reported there several times in recent weeks and I had to take a shot at it. I saw a surprising number of birds, considering the crowds and the manicured habitat, but no spoonbill.
On Wednesday night I drove back to Disney Springs with Cynthia, Rene, and Megan. We wandered from one end to the other and back and ate dinner at Rainforest Cafe.