Something Rainbow is most known for is our homeschool convention booth – that, and our phonebook- sized catalog. Rainbow goes to between 35 and 40 conventions every year in the 48 contiguous states, and also sponsors speakers and sends materials for several in Alaska. But have you ever wondered what it’s like to run a booth at a convention? You could probably easily guess one thing: a ton of work goes into it!
Last month I had the privilege of being on two convention crews (and I’ll be on a third in a week). It all started when I thought it’d be neat to create a video to show people what’s involved in having a booth.
I loved homeschool conventions when I was growing up! They’re treasure troves, full of so many interesting things to explore. Now that I’ve been on “the other side” of a booth, I have a much deeper appreciation not only for all the work and dedication that goes into them, but also for the fact that they are one of the best ways for a homeschooling family to get the one-on-one encouragement they need.
The process of going to a conference begins a couple weeks before it happens, when the crew leader decides what to take and how it will be displayed. Then, a product list goes to the warehouse. Our hard-working warehouse associates pick and pack the products into dozens of plastic totes, ready to be loaded into one or two trailers (depending on the size of the particular booth). After hours of travel, the exhibit crew will arrive at the convention location and set up. This usually takes four or five hours. The crew will then work two long days (sometimes up to 12 hours!), helping customers find things, manning cash registers, restocking items, and listening to or giving advice to people.
In my mind, there are two superb benefits that homeschooling families can get from conventions. Scenario: you’ve been researching a new spelling curriculum for your child who struggles to remember which letters go where. You’ve read about several programs on a blog, and some other homeschooling moms have recommended different products to you. But it’s not like you can run down to the local bookstore and compare them. That’s the beauty of going to a homeschool convention. You get to hold a book in your hands, and look at it to determine if it would be a good fit for your child’s unique personality. Plus (and this is the second benefit), you get to have another human being right there to talk with you.
Rainbow tries to send one of our homeschooling consultants on every exhibit when possible, which gives you the opportunity to pick another brain and get practical advice. Certainly you could talk with them on the phone or chat with them through our website, but isn’t it always better to have someone physically standing there beside you?
Homeschool conventions are such special events. For me, it’s been very fulfilling to be on the front lines of helping the homeschool community. And who knows, maybe in ten years I’ll be back on the normal side of the booth, checking out spelling curriculum for a child of my own who has a hard time remembering which letters go where.