Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WSA National Convention, Part 1

The biennial national convention for the Williams Syndrome Association was held in Boston this year. We heard this news two years ago at the 2010 convention in St. Louis - our first convention after five years on our journey with Williams syndrome.

That convention two years ago was overwhelming, wonderful, informative, and exhausting all at the same time. We planned a two-week road trip around the convention so we could drive vs. fly to St. Louis (stopping to visit family along the way), and the travel alone was a big part of our convention experience. I know that arriving at the convention after a week on the road did not help our feelings of exhaustion! However, the friends we met (some whom we had only known online before the convention), the doctors and experts we heard speak, and the information we gathered was invaluable. So when it was announced that the 2012 convention would be in Boston, we were thrilled.

We decided to make a mini-vacation of the convention and stay in Boston at the gorgeous hotel where the convention would take place. Jamie had loved his off-site day camp experience in St. Louis, Clare and Simon had enjoyed their hotel camp, and Violet had survived hers (being only 17 months old and never really away from mommy before then), we wanted to give the kids the chance to go to camp again plus have the convenience of not having to drive in and out of Boston every day. I booked our hotel reservation six months in advance to be sure we had our two connecting rooms for our family of seven!

As the convention grew closer, however, Shawn's job situation changed, he began looking for a new job, and finances grew tight. At first, we discussed paring down on what we could do at the convention, maybe canceling our hotel reservation and braving the daily commute, or skipping it all together. Did we really need to go to the convention this year? After all, New England is such a small, densely-populated region that we are fortunate enough to have one or two Williams syndrome gatherings every year within a 1-2 hour drive of our home. Clare has a fabulous team of doctors (many right in our city), and we are so close to Children's Hospital Boston for her extended medical care. We certainly do not feel disconnected in any way from having a community of support around us.

We eventually made the decision that the convention was very important to us, and we did not want to skip it. We also looked at how we could make it work financially without driving to and from Boston every day. We knew Jamie and Clare (who was old enough this year) were excited about going to the day camp (swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, s'mores, what's not to be excited about!), and while the younger children may not have been as excited about the hotel camp (not really knowing what to expect since they did not remember St. Louis), all of our kids love the adventure of staying in a hotel and were looking forward to a few days in Boston. We figured it out, and we made it work! And I am so glad we did.