As we drove into Jackson, MI, I told my husband that it was the strangest feeling. Even though I was only going to know my one friend and colleague at the camp, I still felt like I was going "home", I was going to be with people who shared my passion.
See, as a kid, I was an avid reader. I read and I read. I learned so much about life and the ways of the world and the ways of other worlds. The older I got the less I read until my 30s. I picked up reading and felt like I was falling into an old friendship.
A few years ago I pondered my reading life and the reading life I saw at our school. Our teachers are busy and while reading is a part of our students' daily lives, it wasn't promoted, or talked about or shared. I slowly worked on changing that. I read more "kid books" so I knew what was popular and fun to read. I started getting more books in kids hands. I started talking about reading more.
Then last summer I stumbled upon some blogs. I found Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn's blog. I felt like they were talking to me. A passion for reading ignited and I kept it aflame. I soon found Katherine Sokolowski's blog and I started reading these blogs daily. I started reading more and more children's literature. My TBR list started to grow. I pre-ordered Donalyn's Reading in the Wild and book talked it to colleagues. I found the It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and found links and links of people who all thought like me. By early January I had started my own blog and entered the world of Twitter. The last 7 months I've had numerous conversations with these literacy-loving colleagues and as Donalyn and Beth Shaum said, "I found my tribe."
Most people I work with don't have the passion that I have. Some are starting to read more and asking questions. But I don't have the same conversations with them.
Walking into nErDcamp, I immediately say Niki Barnes, and although we had met one other time, it was nice to see her again. Then I ran into Mr. Sharp (after all those Sat. videos, that's how I think of him) and I introduced him to my daughter who frequently tweets in to the #sharpschu book club. He was very kind with her and she thought she was meeting a celebrity. Then I did meet a celebrity - I finally met Donalyn. I asked to take a picture with her, I needed to record this moment! And then she had a conversation with me! She was so kind, listened, asked questions. Listening to her speak later - I was cracking up and nodding my head with everything she said. Yes! Yes! Yes! I'm with people who get me.
I met Franki and Katherine, they really have no idea what they did for me. I came from just loving books by myself, to opening me up to this community.
My daughter had a terrible fall after day one. She ended up in the Jackson, MI emergency room (and if you're wondering, they are as slow as every other ER I've been to). She needed 3 stitches to close up a gash on her chin. I tweeted about it the next morning. Many people responded, including Jess Keating. I saw her once I got there on Day 2 and after introducing myself to her, she immediately asked about my daughter. I ran into Mr. Schu shortly after. He gave me a hug and also asked about my daughter. Community.
Because that's what it was, a community. Every presentation I went to, each time I walked down a hallway, I found others that I've tweeted with, blogs I've commented on, but now I spoke with them. People who live many many states away were here, all because of the same reason. They love literature. They love teaching.
The passion and energy in each and every room was felt. Yes! Yes! Yes! Here were people, participating in something during their own time, over summer. And excited about it. I wish I had more colleagues there. I wish they could have felt the energy. I wish they could remember the excitement they've had when thinking about teaching. When I think back to my time at nErDcampMI, that's what I'm going to remember the most. I'd love more time to talk to everyone. Maybe next year!