I didn't attend any "official" conferences or workshops in 2009. However, as I've previously posted, the children and I did attend the "Labor Day Weekend Unschooling Unconvention Campout" held at the Wright Farm in Equinunk, PA.
All three of us learned many, many things on that trip. The kids learned that there really ARe other children living the way we do (although there were more food restrictions than any of us were comfortable with), there was none of the child control that is so very prevalent in the mainstream world. They were able to roam the woods and fields and frog pond and trees and rock wall and farmyard and each other's tents freely, and intermingle as they wished. They were able to have their voices given the same attention as the adults around them.
At family and mainstream social occasions, children are often herded from here to there based upon an adult perception of schedule, convenience, and importance. On the farm, there was the same easy flow we enjoy at home. It was a balm to both of the kids, and to me, for this way of living to be accepted and routine rather than eccentric and requiring lengthy explanations.
We learned about Orthodox Judaism as we celebrated the Sabbath and scanned our food for kosher items we could share with new friend Shalom, age 4. I learned about a pickling process, lacto-fermentation, that I'd never heard of before, and got to try it. Both kids learned more about horse bones, goats, chickens, frogs, and DS systems than they knew before. I learned how to Jam a LOT of stuff and three people into one small sedan. We learned together that it's easier to set up a tent when Daddy does it, that we will gladly accept help from relative strangers when we need it. and that Mommy's sense of direction is as lousy as she claims...
We gained confidence, that weekend. It was the first time I have ever been camping when I was solely in charge of our site and the kids. I learned I could keep it all together happily, and the kids learned that being away from Daddy for a couple of days would not take away their love for him, or his for them.
We learned how to use a composting toilet, and how to spot poison ivy, and what a geodesic dome looks like (a lot like their climbing dome!). We tasted raw honey, gefelte fish, and kosher pudding. The childre sipped their first wine under the moon, from a silver chalice, and we heard and saw Hebrew.
We learned the joys of living free under the sky, even if we can't do that, always...and we learned a lot more about trusting ourselves, and each other. Annalise learned that the dark doesn't always have to be scary, even when she and her new friends were being chased by imaginary bears...and the, that there's nothing quite like snuggling by a campfire, telling stories, until sleep is close eough to touch, then falling exhausted into your sleeping bag....