Are you looking for a unique summer vacation? Would you like to know what area of the country you want to explore each year? Consider attending National Marriage Encounter Conferences. We did in 1984 and were hooked! In fact, we haven’t missed one since then.
National Marriage Encounter (NME) Conferences are open to encountered couples and families, as well as those interested in Marriage Encounter in any way. You do not have to be leaders or even think about being leaders to benefit from a conference. Speakers, workshops, entertainment, and worship make up the program. Friendly people and great food make it special. College dorm living makes it unique, but there are usually motels near the campus for those who want a little more luxury.
We began taking our youngest son, who was five-years-old in 1985, along to our second conference. From then on, he attended with us (except for the year he was fifteen and took Driver’s Education) until he turned seventeen. The next year he helped with the children’s program and then led it in 2006. So, we planned family vacations around the conference locations.
We had the advantage of being schoolteachers. The conferences were late enough in the summer that we took continuing education courses earlier in the summer and still attended the conferences. Some years we visited local tourist sites and some years we went to the conference or home the long way! In 1985, we went via Gettysburg, Virginia, Ashville and the Smokey Mountains, toured the Biltmore House in Tennessee and then the Cincinnati Zoo before arriving in Oxford, OH for the conference. One year we went north from Central Michigan across the Mackinaw Bridge through the UP and back to Iowa. Once we went from Wisconsin via the Black Hills of South Dakota before heading back to Iowa. When we were in Virginia for the 1999 NME Conference, we took in Williamsburg, Jamestown, Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. In 1988, we welcomed our first granddaughter in Michigan, and then headed to Whitewater, WI for the conference. The next year following the conference in Mount Pleasant, MI, she and her family went camping near there along with us and Steve and Peggy Steinbronn and their four children. Two years later, we picked her up shortly after her brother was born and took her with us to Collegeville, MN for Dance to Life. Another year we took the car ferry from Kewaunee, WI to Ludington, MI to go from the conference in Green Bay to visit that family in Michigan. That’s just a few of the places we went in those first 27 conference years. Imagine where you can go starting next summer.
Great people, Inspiring speakers
Besides the fun vacations, we learned a lot about National Marriage Encounter at the conferences and met a great group of people who were and are involved in that program. We made friends from across the United States, heard wonderful speakers, and learned from other encountered couples in workshops and conversations. When we worked on the four conferences in Iowa (1987-2006) either as chair couple or registration couple, we met and spent some time with John Rosemond, a noted authority on parenting, and Deanna Edwards, a delightful singer. Along the way, we learned a lot from other nationally acclaimed speakers, sometimes before they became famous: Fr. John Powell, Clayton Barbeau, Gary Chapman, Tony Campolo, Krysta Kavenaugh, Ken Davis, and Ernie Larson. We met Fr. Gabriel Calvo, the founder of Marriage Encounter, who challenged the audience each year to spread the fires of love and bring the children! We listened to wonderful speakers from the vicinity of each conference, such as Bishop Robert Morneau from Green Bay; Fr. Dominic Garramone, the bread baking monk from near Peru, IL, who hosts a PBS television show; Shannon Zetterlund, Mrs. Iowa 2002; Ron Willis; and Dennis and Wendy Mannering. We laughed and cried with zany and serious workshop presenters; we sang in the mornings and danced at night. The conferences always refreshed and revived us and reminded us of the importance of marriage and family in our own lives and in the world.
July 16-19, 2015
So, start your next summer vacation planning in and around Jefferson City, Missouri. Plan now to attend the next NME Conference on the lovely Lincoln University, with a new dorm from July 16-19, 2015. If you haven’t attended an NME Conference or missed several, this is the place to be. The conferences are always inspiring, educational, and fun with singers, musical groups, dances, and ice cream sundaes! Besides the conferences make great starting or ending places for vacations. The southern Missouri area have a lot to offer – from Jefferson City itself, to the Ozarks to the south and west, to St. Louis with it fabulous botanical gardens and zoo.
Come Live, Love, and Laugh with wonderful people for a rewarding experience next July! Meet the NME Board – your national and regional representatives. For more information check www.marriage-encounter.org/Conference or find National Marriage Encounter on Facebook.
See the list of National Marriage Encounter Conferences and locations from 1973 to the present. Prior to that time, there was a Marriage Encounter Conference held in South Bend, IL in 1973 and perhaps other conferences focusing on marriage before that time.
Hope to see you at the conference in Jeff City!
Kent and Jeannette Babcock
former Heartland Trustees and current NME Business Administrators.