As state officers, we have the opportunity to do some pretty awesome things. We have the chance to travel, impact/be impacted by new people, and become close friends with other state officers. Last week, Annalee and I had the chance to travel to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for the Tennessee State Convention. It combined all of those “awesome things” I mentioned earlier, so we knew that it was bound to be a blast.
We endured the seven-hour trek to the Volunteer State, singing along to all the Disney songs I didn’t know (but thanks to Annalee I learned every single one). We stopped for the occasional Speedy Freeze or Diet Coke when the interstate seemed to never end. The terrain constantly evolved from flat, to curvy, to mountainous right before our eyes as we drove further south. I couldn’t soak in enough of the beautiful sights. Time flew by, and before we knew it, we were checking in to our hotel for our stay.
I enjoyed watching our friends from Tennessee put on a great convention. We were able to witness differences and similarities in sessions, watch our friends give their retiring addresses, and reward the hard work of numerous members. Our Association jackets received many odd stares, but we weren’t the only ones. Not only did we attend, but Kansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Florida state officers were there as well. We had all come for the sole intention of hosting workshops, but the convention became so much more than that. We realized that our time together was limited, so it was imperative that we make the most of it. What better way to do that than by an adventure?
After an afternoon session, a large group of us state officers packed into Mississippi’s big SUV and started driving to wherever the road would take us. We found ourselves traveling further and further into the Smoky Mountains, stopping to take pictures and play in the snow. We then made our way to a hole-in-the-wall BBQ restaurant and ate to our heart’s content, laughing and chatting all the while.
When the gas tank was running low and exhaustion started kicking in, we headed back to Gatlinburg. As we drove, I couldn’t help but feel extremely grateful and refreshed. Grateful for the unforgettable friendships we had made, refreshed from a spontaneous trip, and in awe at just how fun that evening was. Work is great, but a little spontaneity never hurts either.
Make sure to take that trip, attend that fun event, or ditch the map and go to wherever that road leads. Escape the ordinary, because the best gift we can ever have is a lifetime of adventure.
2015 - 2016 Indiana FFA State President