By Jeanette Hanscome
If you’ve attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference or visited the Registration site you’ve probably heard about The Buddy System. “What is The Buddy System” you ask? Here is a handy Q&A.
Q: What is the purpose of The Buddy System?
A: Mount Hermon is exciting, fun, and inspiring. It can also be overwhelming, especially for newbies. Conference veteran Marci Seither put it beautifully: “I felt like I was getting a drink of water out of a fire hydrant!” The goal is to equip new conferees to enjoy the experience. First-timers receive tips for pacing themselves, choosing workshops, connecting with God, and riding out discouragement, as well as how to meet editors, set realistic goals, and send the pre-submitted manuscripts correctly. As Marci says, “[It] is nice to have at least one person there who can tell you it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to take a nap and no matter what you feel like after the critiques, come out…you are still a writer!”
Q: How does it work?
A: About a month before the conference, first-timers are matched with a registrant who has attended Mount Hermon at least once. This person is available to answer questions that come up, calm fears, and offer advice, even if the question is “What should I wear?”
Q: How do you match people up?
A: A lot of prayer goes into matching first-timers with buddies. Women are matched with women, and men with men. Writing interests are taken into account as much as possible, as well as goals for the conference. God has a way of pairing people with similar interests and experiences, even people from the same town, without me knowing the information in advance, confirming His role in the process.
Q: How do the experienced buddies benefit?
A: The blessing definitely goes both ways. Buddies have shared how much they gained from passing on the information and encouragement that they desperately needed as newbies, or sharing valuable tips they wished they’d known the first year. Many have served for several years in a row.
Q: Is there a deadline?
A: Buddies will be assigned a month before the conference. However, I understand that many will register for the conference after that, so don’t hesitate to ask. If, for some reason, it’s impossible to assign you to someone, you will receive a First-Timers’ Pre-Conference Information Packet.
Q: How do I sign up?
A: The Buddy System is strictly volunteer. If you want to be added to the list, either as a first-timer or an experienced buddy, e-mail me (the coordinator), Jeanette Hanscome (firstname.lastname@example.org).