Three years, hundreds of hours, thousands of emails went into planning NOAC 2015
By Greg Bulger
This conference’s attendance of 15,000 Arrowmen is almost double the next highest NOAC attendance – 8,000 attendees achieved in 2012. Due to the overwhelming popularity of NOAC 2015, a significant amount of planning and logistics were required long before most Arrowmen even considered attending NOAC.
The first challenge was to find a ready and willing host. Michigan State University approached the OA with an enthusiastic pitch to be the host of NOAC 2015 and from that moment they have been a huge part of the success in planning and hosting the largest NOAC in the OA’s history.
Because of the number of participants, many things had to be adjusted to maintain and further improve the quality of the conference. Two individuals headed this process: Andy Chapman, deputy NOAC chairman for scheduling and facilities; and Laurin Gierman, senior sales manager for university conference services at MSU.
“The planning for NOAC 2015 here at Michigan State began even before the 2012 NOAC was finished,” Chapman said. “Even three years ago, it was expected that NOAC 2015 would attract many more attendees than previous conferences. Luckily, the Order of the Arrow and Michigan State were up to the challenge.”
Planning for NOAC 2015 really started to gain the most steam seven months ago, when the conference vice chiefs (CVCs) – section chiefs who were elected to perform the primary youth lead duties – were chosen during the OA National Planning Meeting. The remaining section chiefs were appointed to teams and began gathering their staffs.
During an advance on-site meeting in March, the CVCs and their advisers had an opportunity to tour the campus, plan out logistics and ask many questions about what had been completed and what still needed to be worked. They started planning about how specific locations would be used and the time it would take to get from one activity to the next.
Despite the advance planning, hosting the conference was no easy feat.
“This is the largest conference ever held on the campus of Michigan State University,” Gierman said. “Conference calls and thousands of emails have been shared between MSU team members and OA volunteers.”
One of the toughest tasks for the university was accommodating the conference’s outdoor nature of its events. Most of the other conferences held at MSU mainly used classroom, dining and housing facilities, while NOAC programs focus heavily on outdoor activities.
“The activities occurring at the Hub are unique, each providing new and interesting questions and answers,” Gierman said. “We are looking forward to the culmination of our planning!”
Chapman was also excited about the outcome of the planning process.
“I have never seen a university with better customer service. MSU goes out of their way to accommodate every request and challenge we present,” Chapman said. “It was great returning to Michigan State University in 2015 and we hope our guests are as happy with the results as we are!”