My trip to Albany for the NYS 21st CCLC RoS Spring Conference was my first experience traveling professionally for a conference. It was held at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center over the course of three days, consisting of multiple general sessions and workshops for participants to choose for to further develop professional qualities needed to implement, manage, and evaluate the variety of after-school programming that is funded by the 21st CCLC grant.

Workshop and session topics were comprehensive and included literacy and equity among children, social-emotional learning, and trauma-informed care. During the evaluators’ session, an open discussion and collaboration about the current evaluation report requirements took place between all the evaluators and representatives from the NYS Department of Education. It was a powerful experience to be engaged with other evaluation professionals. Given that this was my first time attending, it was a treat to network and converse with seasoned peers. On the last day, I chose to participate in a roundtable discussion about the McKinney-Vento Law and its impact on youth programming.

We were also well fed during the entire event. The Desmond provided breakfast and lunch across multiple days so I had the opportunity to try their famous bread pudding, which was definitely a consistent theme and talking point throughout the conference. It was even referenced in numerous 21CCLC e-mails leading up to my trip (for good reason– it was delicious). In the brief downtime that I had (emphasis on brief) I took a dip in the pool and ventured out to the Crossgates Mall. All in all, it was a great experience filled with networking, a wealth of new information, and of course, dessert.