Shall We ALLLL go to FL?: An Interview with Jeanette Hillman, our National Conference Director




Below the conference director, Jeanette Hillman, helps us know what to expect at the upcoming national conference. 

Where did “family friendly” come from? 
At first, "family friendly" meant getting a reduced flat room rate for up to four to a room and designing the conference schedule to give families time to enjoy activities at the resort. Then the planning team begans to ask, “How could we have a gathering of all our staff to proclaim God’s magnificence and commit to discipling the next generation and not include our own staff children?” We began to ponder, “What if we had a children’s program at the National Conference that would be age appropriate and paralleled the same themes as the main sessions?”

What are the details about plans for children?   
We are excited to tell you that we are planning to have a limited children’s program during the five large sessions.  God led us to a gifted woman, Sheri Underwood, who has developed an amazing program that we pray will capture the imagination of children with the magnificence of God and His passion for the world.  

We are now trying to recruit volunteers, raise money to defray costs, get it approved by the resort and set up the registration.We hope to have confirmation and more details from what Disney will allow in the next 3 weeks.  Our plan is as follows if God brings together our dreams:
  • There will be a complementary cry room for children supervised by mom or dad for children up to 3 years old.  The room will have the general sessions streamed in with video and sound.
  • We hope there will be an age appropriate program for children 4 to 12 that will follow the theme of the conference, “For Generations to Come.”  We plan to offer the program during the five plenary sessions at a cost of $129 per child.  It would include two meals.
When can I register my child for the program? We would appreciate your prayers that all the details would come together quickly.  We are diligently working to raise funds to be able to offer the program at $129 per child. 

What is available to families at the conference?

  • Hotel rooms for our conference are a flat rate of $139 per night for up to 4 people (normally they start at $175).
  • Rooms include a small refrigerator, coffee maker, complimentary in room Wi-Fi, hairdryer, iron and board, and pack n play if your infant is on the hotel reservation.
  • Saturday afternoon is free for you to enjoy the resort, pools or Disney Parks.  
Resort Amenities:
  •  Pools with waterslide
  •  Playground
  •  Iguana Arcade with video games, air hockey, pinball, etc.
  • Volleyball
  •  Campfire Activities
  • Jogging Trail

What about meals for children not registered for the children’s program? 
Many families are bringing Grandparents to be with their children during the conference.  It is a great place for endless activity and fun. There are three restaurants at the resort. In order to meet our budget, we are having to be very strict on conference meal attendance. If a parent does not choose to register their child for the Children’s program, it is important for them to know that their children are not allowed at the dinner on Friday or lunch on Sunday.

Will the meetings/sessions be held at the same hotel that the majority of staff are staying at or at a separate location? I am trying to think through nap time. :) 
Yes, the meetings and hotel rooms are at the same location.  It might be fun for you to visit the resort site on the web.  Also the conference link can connect you to the resort at http://nationalconference.navigators.org/

If afternoon naps are what you are thinking about, we only have one workshop planned for Friday afternoon.  The other afternoons are free.  Note:  Friday afternoon was the only time available for Lisa and Francis Chan to do their marriage workshop.  It’s one I don’t want to miss!

How do I get the most out of the conference?
We all know that you balance many responsibilities every day, any change in schedule can be a challenge.  Here are a few suggestions on what might enhance the experience for you and your family:
  •  Take time to review the schedule on the web site and discuss it with your spouse
  •  Make realistic plans on what you can attend.  You are doing a great work by investing in      your children.
  •  Look at the resort web site and see what is available.  There are so many free things to do at the resort—swim, play at the playground, dig in the sand pit, look for alligators in the lake, take a nature walk or ride the free shuttle to eat at Downtown Disney.
  • Think about what interests each of you and what you think God may have you experience or what you need.  Maybe you could really benefit from one of the workshops or maybe just planning time to be with other moms around the pool or playground is the priority.
  • Book your room near other families with children.
  • Think and discuss what would make this a memorable and fun time for your children. There are so many choices, but in our family, we would try to choose one activity (we could afford!) that we knew each of our four children would like.
  • Brainstorm how you might partner with other parents to be able to participate in sessions
  • Bring food for your kids to be able to eat in the room and stay on their normal diet.  Bring a blanket to have picnics under the trees or near the Mickey topiary.
Thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions, Jeanette!!! 


Jeanette with grandson Corban, 3 1/2
Conference Director, Mom of Four, and Grandma of Five 
- Jeanette Hillman -

Brad and Jeanette have been on staff since 1980. They served with collegiate, military, church and community in the U.S., Russia and United Arab Emirates. Jeanette brings 30 years of experience balancing raising children, getting 2 masters degrees and working as a project manager.   Although she loves the workplace and investing in others, her favorite role is “Gramma.”



We hope you found this post helpful as you think through what is possible for you and your family at this conference. If you have follow-up questions please post them in the comments section below. Or share what you are hoping this time will look like for you! 

Comments

  1. This is excellent information, very helpful!

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  2. So so helpful!!! And thank you to Navs for thinking through how to bless moms and kids!!

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  3. Moms, what are ideas do people have for maybe partnering together and helping each other go to some sessions!? :)

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  4. So helpful! Thank you! I was wondering about some of this. I am also wondering what to do with our toddler who will be 3 at the time of the conference. He is too young for the program being offered but too old to be treated like a baby and stay occupied in the cry room the whole time. Any other moms of toddlers have thoughts on this? It's kind of an in between age....maybe there is something us toddler moms can do to offer a small "program" for the 2-3 year olds? Any thoughts? He does great at church with short lessons....I'm sure there's something....maybe that's Lexi was getting at with her question above?
    --Sarah Sidnam (not sure why my iPad signed me in as David, but it's me...lol...I'm not tech savvy here).

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    1. Hi Sarah! I'm going to clarify with Jeanette about 3 year olds and see what they are thinking. Perhaps the cry room is for through age 3? If you don't think your 3 yr old would be a good fit for the cry room, I suggest posting something on the FB group page. Maybe ask who else is bringing kids that age and might want to coordinate something??? If you are not a part of that group yet let me know and I will add you.Or you can search for it - "Navigator Moms". That way you will hopefully get more people seeing your request and responding.

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    2. From Jeanette -Another thought for the "early 3 little one": That would be great for the moms to pull together some activity/resource for moms to share with their 2-3 in the cry room or in their own rooms. The conference team will look at renting a children's table and chairs and perhaps some play items that could be in the room.

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