I send you this message to give you feedback about the Crayfish conference in Halmstad (Sweden). It was really nice. During the weekend I discovered Halmstad, a town with a port, situated next to the North Sea.
I went there on Friday evening, too late for the black tie event. Instead of staying at the hotel, I walked around the streets to get my first impression of the town. I noticed that quite a lot of people hang out together in family groups. Ambiance is friendly and relaxed. People seemed to be welcoming the weekend. It is evident they use bikes extensively to travel/commute. Wood can be seen everywhere, mostly in the houses. Somehow it sounds like a nice place to take rest where people can lead a peaceful lifestyle. Sweden is clearly advanced in ecology system.
Saturday started with a seminar called "What is success?" given by Martin Pettersson. He shared his experience of being a Buddhist monk for 4 years. One more time, I am impressed by the JCI network and its ability to find people coming from totally different backgrounds. Martin gave us his feeling and somehow his feedback on his meditations. We enjoy life only after having achieved something, or gain something, for instance at work. It was not a lecture (with notes) but really a sharing of experience. I don't tell you more, you will see by yourself if he comes to London :-)
We were then invited to a small house nearby the boats for the "Crayfish Tie Society Drink". All wearing a special brown tie or a scarf, we experienced the Swedish tradition: Opening the Champagne bottle using a sword. (In fact, it is known in France as well, but it was not known by me until this time). I did it, it was not very hard. Almost all of us opened a champagne bottle with a sword, so there was enough alcohol for everybody. We also enjoyed some specialty from Sweden (cheese, dry bread, fish).
In the afternoon, we did a cooperative game : Arosfortet. Similar to Fort Boyard in France, we had to solve enigmas, or to use technical skills to succeed in a challenge and accumulate points. It was a very practical way to illustrate that discussion and collaboration are often necessary to achieve a common goal. We were welcomed by Halmstad hosts (for me, Daniel), to enjoy the famous crayfish party. The rhythm was easy to follow : one crayfish, one strong glass of alcohol. We enjoyed singing many Swedish songs and did some games where we had to walk with an egg on a spoon that we kept in the mouth. In fact, crayfish may be tricky to eat as the hard part has to be removed. Luckily we were sitting next to senators who explained the Swedish technique to quickly open the crayfish and get the meat. It saved me loads of time. We finished the evening in a Swedish club.
Overall, I really enjoyed this weekend. I discovered a new culture, new town, new traditions, I met new people. This was an outstanding experience and I can't do otherwise than recommending it next year. I just regret not to have found time to enjoy the beach. But I was back from holidays in Tenerife so there's not much to dwell on...
Vincent Espitalier, JCI London Member