I just got home from the first Men’s Shed Association of BC conference and I am bursting to share my thoughts.
The Squamish Shed had worked hard to make this a top-notch conference so it was no surprise that the program was varied, interesting and fun.
Karen Elliott, the Mayor of Squamish welcomed us and participated in the first session which was about the importance of partnerships. All the sessions were interesting and informative.
Colin Knecht of WoodWorkWeb.com wowed us with his top ten woodworking tips and jigs.
Dr. David Gayton advised us about the hopeless quest to survive old age and we did wellness exercises designed to fill us with energy. I don’t know if it was the quality of the program or the exercises but I never came close to nodding off.
At lunch there was a video message from John Latchford, the chair of the UK Men’s Shed Association and there was a report about the Canadian National Association from Doug Mackie. Doug was also presented with a spectacular commemorative plaque in recognition of all he has done for Men’s Sheds in Canada. Jim Gracie, who established the Men’s Shed Association of BC was also honoured.
At dinner Barry Golding, Men’s Shed researcher and author, addressed us from his home in Australia.
All around the room there were many examples of the fine work done in the Sheds.
But what made this conference stand out beyond any conference I have ever been to before were the people who attended. Men and women dedicated to making Men’s Sheds work. There were many moving stories about how being involved in a Shed had affected the lives of men. Then there were many stories of how the Sheds had benefitted their communities (often in collaboration with others).
I felt like I was with old friends who I had never met before but I was mostly moved to meet brand new Prince George delegation over a hamburger. In talking to Devon, I realized that he had probably learned in 1 day what it took me years to learn. I almost envy Devon for the fun ride ahead of him as he helps establish his new Shed.
Thanks Squamish, thanks BC Shedders, yon made this a truly great conference, I can’t wait for the next one. Also, thanks to the United Way for supporting the conference.
Mike Jennings. Coquitlam.