Summer Camp or Conference?

The last two blog posts about summer camps for adults and attending a conference focused on the benefits of combining an educational trip with a mini vacation. There are, however, things to consider before spending hard earned money on either of these types of trips.

You want to find the experience that fits your needs. Both provide educational experiences that can be combined with tourist activities but you need to consider what you want to learn and how you want to learn it.

Summer camps for adults offer a hands-on approach to learning.
Photo by Regiane Tosatti

Conferences tend to lean toward seminar/lecture type sessions. They may offer two or more such sessions on different topics at the same time so you need to decide which session will benefit you the most. You may find yourself torn between more than one option. The camp experience usually plans the day for you.

To lower registration fees, conferences also may feature a vendor area, which could be a benefit for the attendee if they are in the market for such items. They are often offered at a discounted rate for conference goers, but if you do not budget for this, you could end up spending more than you intended.

It is also less likely that you will find hands-on classes at a conference since it is difficult to know how many people will attend any one class unless that is the only class offered at the time. Even then, not everyone registered for a conference goes to each class available. Presenters are often also conference attendees themselves and responsible for shipping any materials needed for a seminar themselves.

Julie Baxes of Littleton, Colorado, had attended several conferences of the International Trumpet Guild as well as several sessions of the Jazz Camp featured in the blog about summer camps for adults. She feels both were valuable experiences, but there are differences.

“Conferences provide wonderful opportunities to network, try equipment and hear incredible music (thinking specifically of ITG),” she said. “However, they provide few, if any, hands-on learning opportunities. With Jazz Camp, you are playing almost constantly — if not in rehearsal, in your room, working out parts — a very different experience from a conference.”

Jordan Henderson, featured in the recent post about conferences, has not only attended conferences but has presented at them, too. He has also offered various classes on making a variety of body care products.

Conference sessions are less hands-on and more lecture based.
Photo by Christina Morillo

“Hands-on classes at conferences tend to be more generalized since you often do not know how many people will be attending the class,” he said. “It is easier to present more specific classes when the attendees register ahead of time.”

Remember to ask questions ahead of time so there are no surprises and you will likely have an enjoyable experience regardless of which of these trips you decided to take for your educational road trip.

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