Mock Gathering – Disney World

Okay, usually Mock Gatherings are focused on staying under a certain budget, but I am going to blow that a little for this one.  Arguments have been made that people use their vacation time in order to go out to a Jedi Gathering, so they should have an aspect of fun.  So this Mock Gathering, is going to be coming at this from a reverse position, a vacation spot, still kept as cheap as possible yet more expensive than usual, tailored to the Jedi.

Why Disney?  Well, I am there now.  This week is Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida; and Opie and I have headed down early in order to visit the Disney parks and Universal.  Since Star Wars is now Disney, I thought it would be fun, especially since it is an easy side trip for people who attend celebrations.  I will have to do a Disneyland one eventually, for when Celebration is back in Anaheim, but that can wait two years.

To start, accommodations.  Rather than search for an AirBnB location, I am just going to go with putting us into one of the Disney Budget hotels.  True, there is no private meeting area, but they provide free parking to guests, free parking at the park if you are a guest, and free shuttles to and from the parks.  Plus they have the cafeterias on site that accept the dining plan if people want to go that route.  The rates vary, typically around $175/night, I just got one in April for $152/night though.  Like going to a convention, you can choose whether you want the privacy and just have one or two people in the room, which would drive up the cost, or if you want to split the room four ways to save money and double up on the beds (I have even gone there with five and had one on the floor).

Park tickets can also vary.  Only doing the four main parks, if you do one per day there is currently a deal for $279+tax, which is a great deal…who knows if that would be available when this hypothetical trip is planned though.  Normally, a four day ticket, one park per day, is $350.  Say you wanted to do only two days, two parks a day, a two day ticket with park hopper is $259.  Obviously there are plenty of variations on this.  In addition to the four main parks, there are two water parks.  Each park is $57-62 (depending on blackout dates).  Of course a person could go on this trip and decide to opt out of certain parks, so this would be very subjective in price.  Now, things for Jedi per park.

Magic Kingdom
If you have never been to Disney World…this is the park with the castle.  This park is definitely more for just being a big kid…more for fun than anything else.  You could spin the Buzz Lightyear ride or Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade as target practice, you could test your intestinal fortitude on the spinning teacups, or claim the Jungle Cruise and its a Small World as cultural exposure.  But this park is really just for the magic.

Hollywood Studios
If you have never been to Disney World…this is the park with the giant Mickey wizard hat.  This one is probably the most appealing for Jedi as Star Wars fans, currently housing the Star Tours ride, Jedi Academy training (for kids), and Star Wars Launch Bay store.  The rides also tend to be a bit more adult oriented as well, with the Rock’n’Roll Rollercoaster and the Tower of Terror, so for those who have fears of such rides, could be a good opportunity to test them.

Epcot
If you have never been to Disney World…this is the park with the giant silver ball.  Around the World in one day…sort of.  Epcot usually gets the shaft by people, as it does not boast many rides.  But it does have eleven pavilions from around the world (ten plus the US), so this is the park with the most culture.  The park was also designed to be a community of the future, so there are several attractions about the environment and sustainability, including greenhouses that provide most of the food for the park.

Animal Kingdom
Another cultural stop, Animal Kingdoms biggest attractions are the animals.  African Elephants, Butterflies, Giraffes, Gorillas, Hippopotamuses, Lions, Okapis, Rhinos, Tamarins, Tigers, and even some dinosaur based attractions.  This is a good park for learning about wildlife.

Typhoon Lagoon
The tropical themed of the two water parks, evidently currently being refurbished.  There are your standard waterpark slides, a wave pool, great for practice at staying afloat, and when I was there at least, you could swim with sharks.  I did it…I was terrified…that is why I did it.  There are also surfing lessons, though those are extra and afterhours I believe.

Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach is a winter themed water park, and the only Disney park I have never been to.  From what I understand, pretty much your standard water park.

 

Food
Obviously each park has several food options, but the one thing to touch on is the Dining Plan.  There are three main options:

  • Quick Service – Including 2 quick-service meals and 2 snacks per day. As well as a refillable drink mug eligible for refills at self-service and quick-service beverage locations.
  • Standard Plan – Including 1 Table service meal, 1 Quick Service Meal, and 2 snacks per day, plus refillable mug.
  • Deluxe Plan – Including 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, as well as refillable mug.

 

Mock Gathering – Wisconsin Dells

 

I hesitated on posting this one, because it has the probability of being a little more expensive than usual.  However, these ARE ultimately just for fun.  They are a sort of brainstorming, that may give others ideas when they are organizing future gatherings, so I am going for it, cause this one would be fun.

Accommodations
The Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.  The Kalahari is the largest indoor resort in the Dells, with both and indoor and outdoor waterpark.  For the purpose of this Mock Gathering, I priced the Entertainment Villa, which is listed for sleeping 18, and if everyone is doubled up in beds, will sleep 18.  Couches provide additional sleeping space, though I think I would make an executive decision to keep the lower level common area free of people sleeping, so that there is somewhere in the open people can hang out all night without disrupting someones ability to sleep.

kalahari-map

The Villa provides a five bedrooms, one with a King bed and the other four each with two queens.  There is a fully equipped kitchen (with full sized refrigerator, dishwasher, and stove/oven), free high speed internet, a laundry room, pool table, a private secluded entrance, and complimentary shuttle to the lobby.

Within the resort itself, there is a fitness center, lazer tag, bowling, mini golf, a ropes course, go karts, climbing walls, arcade, and, of course, the waterpark with a lazy river, various slides, hot tub, wave pool, ecc.  I believe some of these may be extra, but I do not remember what the cost was.  The website lists prices for non-guests though, so perhaps I am mistaken.  I know when I was there several years ago we received a different color wristband for each day of our stay.  I only ever used the waterpark, though I think after I left on Sunday, the others I was with went to the amusement park area with just their wristbands.

Dining
Unfortunately a non-included situation, though there is the kitchen in the Villa that meals can be arranged if all pitch-in (as Jedi should be willing and able to do).  There are also several restaurants on site, so if people wanted to go out for a meal, that is also an option.

Price
The price I came up for in August was $4,388.91 total, which comes out to $243.83/person (for three nights, I believe four days of passes are included) for 18 people.  You could easily fit a few extra people in to bring the price down a little, but only the first 18 would be included in the passes, so extra passes would need to be purchased and it might just end up the same anyhow.  Of course extra would have to be factored in for food, but not so much extra, as I believe California Jedi manages to feed everyone for about $30 extra.

Also, that price is for the peak season.  If a Gathering could be scheduled for the winter, you would lose the added outdoor waterpark, but the price drops about $1,000, bringing it down to $184.59/person, which is down where I like to keep the price, and trust me, the indoor waterpark is VERY good.  It would just be a matter of getting people to agree on a winter date.

So yeah, a little more expensive than I usually try to keep these, but so many things to do, and it is a full on resort, so it works for those who use this as vacation time as well.

Mock Gathering – Bahama Cruise

To begin with, I was not the one who came up with this idea.  I am not sure I would have ever come up with the idea of a cruise on my own, but it is a damn good idea.

I looked at a few different cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, and MSC), and the best I came up with was Royal Caribbean.  I did not specify dates, which would effect cost, but overall, just pricing individually, I came up with a cruise to the Bahamas at $129-$200 per person for three nights.  Four nights was only about $10 more, but I could understand difficulty with schedules.  I will include just to be thorough. These prices are based on my original search, prices may fluctuate.  These prices include all meals, so this is less than or comperable with the most recent Gathering.

3-nights Bahamas – $134/person – Departs from Miami, stops in Nassau and CocoCay.
4-nights Bahamas – $149/person – Departs from Miami, stops in Nassau, CocoCay, and Key West.

Things To Do On Board:

  • Rock Climbing – 40ft
  • Flowrider (Surfing) – Private lessons additional fee
  • Ice Skating
  • Fitness Center
  • Fitness Classes – Yoga, Pilates, Spinning, ecc. (Some classes additional fee)
  • Mini Golf
  • Sports Court
  • Running  Track
  • Inline Skating
  • Scaba – additional fee
  • Complimentary entertainment and live music
  • Daily Brunch
  • Pool
  • Three Whirlpools
  • Library

Things to do in Nassau:

  • Only swimming with the dolphins was mentioned specifically, as well as the beaches

Things to do in CocoCay:

  • Snorkeling
  • Kayaking
  • Boating
  • Jet Ski Rentals
  • Nature Walks
  • Wave Runner

Now, as I mentioned, the rates were based on individual rates, or for up to four rooms.  There are group rates available, I would just have to actually speak with a representative and have specific dates to acquire those, however some interesting group information based on their FAQ section:

  • Payment can be made by the organizer, or individually.
  • Eight stateroom (16 guest) minimum for group discount
  • Deposit due 30 days after reserving the space, final payment due 75 days prior to sailing
  • Dining arrangements can be made (so that we all dine together)
  • Various activities can be arranged for the group (scavenger hunts, private shore excursions, karaoke, trivia, cocktail parties, private dinners, rock climbing time, ecc)
  • Complimentary use of state-of-the-art conference rooms and most lounges

 

Mock Gathering – California Redwoods

Back to the rural, I have always wanted to visit the California Redwoods, and have entertained having a Gathering there for years.

Accommodations
Redwoods River Resort – http://redwoodriverresort.com/html/home.html
Cabins house 35 people at $42.20 per person, per night.
Amenities, each have bathroom with shower, outside kitchenette, TV, private patie with barbecue – sleep 2-6 people per cabin.
Motel Rooms house 34 people at $35.70 per person, per night
Amenities include private bathroom with shower, kitchenette (microwave, small refrigerator, two burner stove, coffee pot, toaster, pots & pans, dishes, and utensils), TV and deck with barbecue.  Sleep 2-6 people per room.
Amenities include fire pits, hiking trail, swimming, wi fi.

Meals
It is possible that there are options for meals here, but nothing is listed on their website.  Still, I would not mind going back to everyone pitching in to cook/clean, even if those rolls need to be assigned before hand.  Evidently, this is how California Jedi does their gatherings anyhow, and it seems to work for them (I use hypothetical language because I have not yet attended a California Jedi Gathering).  Each room in the motel has its own kitchenette, so this would allow people to say, hey, I have a specific diet I need to follow, so I will take care of my own food.

Activities
First, the amenities: hiking trail, swimming, fire pit.  There are also various venues for Horseback Riding and Kayaking.  Of course, those would be extra, but again, voluntary participation.

Mock Gathering – Chicago

From everything I have heard, all the Gatherings have been in very rural area’s thus far.  I can see benefits to this, but I could also see a benefit to having some Gatherings in more urban areas.  Not only is there a wealth of culture to experience, but it provides opportunities to interact with the world that being in a secluded area do not.

Accommodations
This will be the biggest issue with an urban setting, since there are really no big cabins to go hang out in.  However, doing some preliminary searching, there are options.  There are hostels of course, which may mean sharing rooms with a larger number of people, but the rooms are significantly cheaper, and there are often options for private rooms if anyone needed, that they could pay the extra.  You could also go the hotel block option, find a hotel in the area, set up a block of 15-20 rooms and allow people to book their own rooms (again, the more people in the room, the cheaper it is, or people are free to have a more private room if they want to pay the extra).  The drawbacks would be meals (which some provide breakfast but not other meals) and common areas.  There were some options of hotels with suites or an apartment-type setting that have living rooms that could be used as common areas, it would just be a matter of access.  There are also lobby’s of course, most hotel lobby’s having a common area where you can hang out (And I have done some 24-hour lobby chatting before).  Without ACTUALLY trying to plan something with dates and calling for group rates, it is impossible to get a full grasp of prices, but it IS possible.

Meals
As I said, more difficult due to location, but still doable.  I have heard the reason meals are included with venue now is because there were issues with who cooks/cleans before, but I  think if this was set up in advance, it could work; and some of the options do include rooms with kitchens.  Also, this would give options to try local cuisines in various locations, like a night of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, or an afternoon outing to a local Hot Dog stand for Chicago Dogs….or healthier things…why is Chicago so unhealthy?

Activities
SO many things to do in Chicago, it is more an issue of picking just a few.

Museums
Chicago is full of wonderful museums, you could have a museum day, or do one a day, or just pick one.  Some of them are free, some of them have free days, or if a paid one is chosen, people can choose whether or not to go (since all activities should be voluntary anyhow).  A few of the big ones:

  • Adler Planetarium
  • Art Institute Chicago
  • Botanic Garden (free)
  • Field Museum
  • Lincoln Park Zoo (free)
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • Shedd

Attractions
There are some things you just have to do/see when you visit certain cities.  Some of these are just stop and look type things, like the Bean; others are full day events.  Some of the big Chicago attractions:

  • Navy Pier
  • Millennium Park
  • Willis Tower
  • Magnificent Mile
  • John Hancock
  • China Town
  • Bean
  • Buckingham Fountain

Theaters
Perhaps for the more culturally minded, a night at the theater?  It would definitely up the price, but again, optional.

  • Chicago
  • Goodman
  • Oriental
  • Civic Opera
  • Harris

Other Activities/Ideas

  • An afternoon at the beach for swimming/meditating/morning yoga/evening Tai Chi….
  • Many Fitness Studios will offer a free class, even for large groups.  The group I am a member of is always scheduling events with studios.
  • A run along the lake.
  • And dozens of other activities could be available depending on when it were scheduled.  Workout in the park events…Shakespeare in the park (which I really need to go see this year)…Taste of Chicago…ecc.

Mock Gathering – Hawai’i

Opie and I were recently entertaining the idea of a Hawaii gathering, and I took it a step further and decided to start researching the logistics (although I believe Opie was the one who first looked at the Mauna Lea Manor, but it was me who got him to start looking after I was obsessing over a purple house…I like purple).

Accommodations:
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9550919?checkin=07%2F26%2F2018&checkout=07%2F29%2F2018&guests=16&s=eCjnVOJh

http://maunaleamanor.weebly.com/

This location was not the first to catch my eye, but it is by far the most economical, and the look of the place is fantastic.  This is located on the Big Island, and they would probably be flexible on how many houses we rent depending on how many people sign up.

Activities:
The Mauna Lea Manor description on Air B&B talks about ability to contact “doctors, massage therapists, chiropractors, yoga teachers, scuba instructors, any style of dance you like, hunting, fishing, archery,etc. ”  Evidently the husband owns a boat for Scuba Diving or Fishing, so it would be interesting to do either.  Also, I always love the idea of Archery, and it would be great to have a group Yoga session or some other similar activity, maybe even a Hula lesson.

Surfing – When in Hawaii, right?  I started looking into possible classes, but have not yet found anything very affordable.  This might fall under Mauna Lea Manor ability to contact people though, so it is still a possibility.  Even if it were just a lesson on the beach learning how to stand on the board, I think it would be fun and beneficial.

(I claim no responsibility if Lelo and Stitch ends up being watched….who am I kidding?  I will probably watch all the movies and TV episodes just to prepare.  I have the soundtrack running through my brain right now.)

Workshops?:
Mauna Kea/Mauna Loa/Lōʻihi – The Hawaiian Islands were entirely formed off of a volcanic plum, so it seems a great please to learn about volcano’s.  The Big Island has two main volcano’s: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  There is also a new Seamount, Lōʻihi, forming off the coast of the Big Island.  There could be an in house lesson about volcanoes, as well as an outing to one of the ones on the island to actually see it in person.

 

Mock Gathering – Stronghold

In talking about the 2016 Gathering over the last few weeks, I thought it might be useful to actually write down the things I would have done differently.  I think I am going to turn this into a series of Mock Gatherings, pointing out some of the benefits of holding Gatherings in various locations.  Initially, I envisioned these being more detailed, but as I am doing them, I am realizing how difficult it is to list specifics without actually contacting places with dates and looking for quotes, so these will likely be more general “hey, this location is interesting, what are some options” type of posts.

Disclaimer:  I have no idea what the prices are on anything at Stronghold, so perhaps this was done in the most economical way.

To begin, not Stronghold specific, but the Yearbook.

First, all the pictures are from LAST YEARS Gathering, which makes sense since they print it before the Gathering, but I think it would be much more significant if you simply said that a Yearbook would be mailed out to all attendee’s AFTER the Gathering.  All the maps and schedules could be provided in a packet at the beginning, leaving more room for people to maybe post memories, post a list of who won certain awards, who was knighted, ecc.

Second…pictures.  Myself and several people did not submit photos to be put next to our names in the yearbook.  Some of us just did not want our picture included and assumed that would be the result when we did not submit them.  Instead, whoever assembled the yearbook went through our facebook profiles and picked whatever pictures they wanted, and not even the most professional looking.  The one chosen for me, for example, was from a photoshoot where I was dressed as Princess Leia…one of my least favorite of my costumes, and I make it a point to separate my costuming from being a Jedi.  And it was not even a recent picture, they had to scroll back some to find it.  It would have been easier for the person to shoot me a me, and the others, a quick PM, directly requesting a picture.  Or even say, “hey, you did not submit a picture, so unless you want something different, I am going to use this one.”

Accommodations

The Carriage House was booked for our group, which holds 30 people.  If there was an issue with space, we could have switched to the Barrick Lodge which holds 36, but there were no space issues.  Based on the group photo, there were 26 of us, and some of those stayed off site.  However, the organizers of the event stayed in the Bunker, a little 6-person cabin across the courtyard.  Why are we having separate accommodations for organizers?  This is supposed to be about unity and coming together as a group, not special treatment for a select few.  Sure, they held the Knighthood trials over there, but they could have just as easily held them in one of the rooms of the Carriage House, or perhaps at the main building, or even outside.  I wonder how much extra the rate was just to have this extra building.

Also, it was difficult to request roommates, and Opie and I had a little anxiety of who we would be rooming with, or even worse, that we would not be rooming together because the main organizer said “there will only be male/female rooms in special circumstances.”  Honestly, I felt I was going on a high school field trip again.

Instead of having the extra Bunker, or use of the Pavilion for the party, house everyone in one building and have the party in the common room.  With the money you would likely save on these two things, add some of the available Activities to the schedule, namely Archery, Canoeing, or use of the Obstacle Course.  All wonderful activities that may not be available at other locations and it would have been good to make use of.  Plus, it has the added bonus of getting everyone to leave the cabin instead of just sitting inside all day.  Yes, there was swimming, that was a great start.  There was also a Martial Arts workshop, though not everyone may have felt comfortable with that, and a fire building workshop…good starts.

Schedule one big activity per day, and by activity, I mean up and moving.  You can throw hiking in there as well, as there are some great trails out there.  Fit workshops in around those, and do not list them as “mandatory.”  Again, we are not in high school here.

Recap

  • One building for everyone
  • Make roommate choice completely up to the attendees
  • Make use of local activities – Archery, Canoeing, Obstacle Course, Hiking
  • Yearbook mailed out AFTER the Gathering
  • Don’t force anyone into something they do not want to do…including submitting photos

National Gathering 2016

First I must preface that this post will be observational only, no judgement.  There were things that happened that I loved, and there were things that happened I did not like quite so much, but I will do my best to refrain from pointing those out here.

This past weekend was the 2016 National Jedi Gathering.  In my occasional lurking of the online community, I noticed that the now annual gathering was going to be held at Stronghold Castle, in Oregon, Illinois; a site I have been going to for a weekend long Renaissance Faire almost every October since 2000.  Being in my backyard, I started debating going, and reconnecting with another Jedi (Opie Macleod) whom I had known since I first joined in 1999 solidified it.  Declaimer, he is my boyfriend…so he is included in most of this since I spent most of the weekend in his company.

The Gathering itself was to take place Thursday, August 4th through Sunday, August 7th, however the Chicago Jedi organized a dinner on Wednesday night, which is evidently tradition.  Opie would not be arriving until Thursday, but I decided to venture out to the dinner on my own.

WEDNESDAY
The dinner was scheduled at 7pm at 3rd Coast Cafe & Wine Bar in Chicago.  I headed in straight from work and walked in about five minutes to seven.  There were only two people there when I arrived: Boom and Dan.  Boom and I had been friends on Facebook for several years, though we had never spoken in person, Dan was completely new to me.  I introduced myself, and Boom gave me a hug, happy to finally meet me.  The three of us chatted for a while before others started trickling in much after 7pm.  Aimee/Moonshadow sat next to me.  She had been in the community for a long time and we had actually met once before at a Star Wars Celebration.  It is hard to say who all was there and who all sat everywhere because people moved around AND I had to remember a whole bunch of new names.  There was Jeremy (who had actually been at my last Chicago Jedi meetup back in 2008, though I believe it was either his first, or the first I met him at), Stan, Connor, Hannigan, Hannigan’s girlfriend Deanna (who sat to my right), Gabe/Angelus, Gabe’s husband Jay, David, Don, and I think that is everyone.

Boom01

Myself, Aimee, and Boom at Dinner

After dinner, a small group expressed interest in going to see the fireworks at Navy Pier, and I decided to tag along.  Unfortunately, we arrived just in time to see the last set go off, but we wandered the Pier anyhow.  Those there were myself, Aimee, Stan, Jeremy, Connor, David…and I feel I am forgetting someone.  Jeremy knew a great deal of detail that he explained to the out of towners.  We almost rode the ferris wheel but decided against it.  I hugged the Chicago Shakespeare sign because…Shakespeare!

Stan03

After we were done, Jeremy drove me back to the blue line and everyone parted for the night.

OFFICIAL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS AS POSTED ON THE FACEBOOK EVENT

Thursday, 4 August 2016
2:00 – 4:00 P.M. Check-in, Room Assignments, and Settling In
4:00 – 4:30 P.M. Welcome and Announcements by Angelus Kalen
4:30 – 5:15 P.M. Opening Ceremony – “The Fortification of Swords” by Cabur Senaar
5:30 – 6:30 P.M. Dinner
7:00 – 8:00 P.M. Firebuilding by Tallan Kai-Dan
8:30 – 9:30 P.M. Jedi Symbolism and Crystal Ceremony by Alan Wilson

Friday, 5 August 2016
8:00 – 9:00 A.M. Breakfast
9:30 – 10:30 A.M. “Facing your Darkside” by Jax & Phoenix
10:45 – 11:45 A.M. “Healing with Herbs” by Diamond Firefist
12:15 – 12:45 P.M. Lunch
1:15 – 2:15 P.M. “Embodiment” by Jax
3:00 -5:00 P.M. Swimming
5:30 – 6:30 P.M Dinner
7:00 Free Time / Marketplace

Saturday, 6 August 2016
8:00 – 9:00 A.M. Breakfast
9:30 – 10:30 A.M. “Martial Arts for the Modern Jedi” by Raphael Ben Raven
10:45 – 12:00 A.M. “Roots of the Tree” by Kai-An Tatok and Angelus Kalen
12:15 – 12:45 P.M. Lunch
1:15 – 2:15 P.M. “Mentoring: The Master-Padawan Relationship” by Angelus Kalen
2:30 – 5:00 P.M. Free Time / Marketplace
5:30 – 6:30 P.M Dinner
7:00 Group Picture
8:00 Knighting and Celebration

Sunday, 7 August 2016
8:00 – 9:00 A.M. Breakfast
9:30 – 10:30 A.M. Closing Ceremony – “The Fortification of Swords” by Cabur Senaar
12:00 P.M. Check out

THURSDAY

I worked Thursday, so I did not arrive until about 6:30pm.  I checked in, received a bag with the Yearbook and some random samples, refused the linens as I had brought my own for both Opie and myself, and then headed up to the room to start unloading my car and await Opie’s arrival (he was en route).  By the time both of us were there and unpacked, the workshops were mostly over, so neither of us attended anything that evening, but we went downstairs afterwards to socialize.  A group got a Cards Against Humanity game going, but I did not participate, only listened in.  We headed up to bed pretty late, but there were still people awake even then.

FRIDAY

We slept in until about 10 on Friday, so only just headed downstairs for Healing with Herbs, which was basically about healing properties of various herbs with the qualifier that they are not “cures” and always consult your physician first.  Next up was lunch, which was being served at one of the main buildings at Stronghold, Brubaker.  I had packed all my own food, but I still partook in some of the desserts and stole many of Opie’s black olives.

I do not recall the reason, but we did not not attend the Embodiment workshop (EDIT: I remember now, we got in a discussion about unarmed fighting styles…at least it started as that, but likely diverged into random Jedi discussion and ranting…it happens), but headed down when it was time to go swimming.  Swimming was fun.  So much so that they added an extra hour of swimming on Saturday.  There was a canoe next to the pool that ended up being put in the pool, and people were trying to steer it around, even though it was almost the width of the pool long.  After the pool was Dinner, and after dinner was “Free Time,” when most of the Knight Review Boards took place.  Opie was on the review board for two of the four people, so he was gone doing that most of the night.  I stayed upstairs in the room to work on my script for acting class.

SATURDAY

Again, we slept in through breakfast and the first workshop of the day, but I dragged Opie down for “Roots of the Tree” as it was being co-hosted by Katie, one of the California Jedi.  During the workshop, we split off into two groups twice, in order to discuss issues amongst the groups.  First we split into males and females, then we split off into essentially “n00bs” and “vets.”  This workship had received a lot of controversy prior to the Gathering, and even I was skeptical, but it was handled better than I had imagined.  Whether or not it was effective will depend on the future.

Lunch was next, and then Opie, Katie, Aimee, and Jeremy went off to discuss something while I went back and took a quick nap (unplanned…but that is what ended up happening).  When Opie came back it was almost time to swim, so we headed down for round two of swim time, which involved a game of something between volleyball and dodgeball but ended up being dubbed”Disappointment.”  It was fun.

After pool Opie and I wandered around the grounds for a while.  I showed him the old site exit with the amphitheater and we fond the obstacle course which we were both disappointed would not be utilized for the Gathering.  We got back just in time for dinner and then…the knighting ceremony.  I wish I had filmed it, because I cannot do it justice in description.  Basically each of the three whose knighthoods were approved were brought up…some lines were read by the person presiding, the person being knighted, and the observers (the script was printed in the Yearbook), and then the person was presented as a knight.  There were also a few awards given, and everyone dressed up a bit….some in some version of a costume, others just in nicer clothing than the typical jeans and t-shirts they wore the rest of the weekend.  After the ceremony there was a party over under the Stronghold pavilion.

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California Jedi Picture – Me, Opie, Chris, Katie (technically I am not California yet, but as I will be, Katie insisted I be in it)

We hung out at the party for a little while before inviting the group we were talking with up  to our room to hang out.  Initially just Chris, Katie, and Alex came up, and Opie tried  to give them the test he had given in the review board (it had sparked some controversy).  I was also retaking it, as I had been the first to take it over the phone earlier that week, but conversations diverged and we stopped half way through.  Eventually Aimee joined us as well.  I really enjoyed spending time with that group that night, it was probably my favorite night of the gathering.

DerekSigman15

Group photo after the Knighting Ceremony

SUNDAY

We once again…slept in.  When we woke up we went straight to packing up the room.  Loaded up our cars, and after a few goodbyes, headed off.  I thought we might run into Jeremy for lunch, as he said he was planning on going to the same place we were going to, but we did not.  He said I should come to some Chicago Jedi meetups in the future, but we shall see.