In April, I spent five days at the JCI COC (Conference Organising Committee) Academy in Austria. I had been given the opportunity to go as part of my role this year as JCI UK National Convention Director.
The Academy was set up by the organisers of the 2005 JCI World Congress in Vienna. In true JCI spirit, they had seen something they didn't like, namely a lack of know-how transfer between organisers of large JCI conferences and decided to change it. Thanks to the generosity of these members in sharing their experiences and knowledge, they are helping other JCI members to be the best they can be.
The one word that springs to mind to describe the COC Academy is intense. Without giving too much away, the Academy was a mix of workshops, training sessions and team assignments and no second throughout the five days was wasted! I have never really thought of myself as a creative person, but the unique environment of COC Academy encourages even the least imaginative of us to unleash our creativity! I would recommend it to everyone - I don't think I have ever worked or laughed harder.
I found that the Academy really teaches you something about yourself, how you work and what you can do. I was constantly surprised at the amazing things teams made up of different personalities and from different cultures could achieve.
Of course the best thing about the Academy was the people there. The wonderful team who had the vision and passion to create the Academy and continue to run it year after year; the enthusiastic trainers, who constantly came up with new ways to challenge us, thereby helping us to develop valuable skills; and the fabulous participants from all over the world - I can't wait to go and visit all my new friends and see the conferences they put on in their home countries.
So what will I take away from the COC Academy? An amazing amount of knowledge about JCI conferences and how to organise them; an even greater sense of excitement about organising the JCI UK National Convention and most of all, the certainty that everything and anything is possible!