HomeBlogsacornaglia's blogCAL Directors Retreat 2011 Wrap Up

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The recent CAL Directors Retreat was a keen reminder of how nice it can be to step out of our mostly virtual existance and benefit from good old fashioned face to face networking. On July 8-10, adult group directors from around the country convened in Washington, DC for the first of what we hope will remain a regular event. Most attending directors were part of groups already active in the League and some represented budding new League groups and existing groups looking to become involved.

Back in 2007, Deke Sharon hosted the inaugural meeting for the League in his living room where they created a vision for what the Contemporary A Cappella League would become. Many of the founding directors continue to be leaders in our community and help the CASA team in mentoring new members. Building from the goals set forth in that meeting, we used the retreat to check in on the progress thus far and reset focus for the next 5 years.

This year's event kicked off with tapas in downtown DC. There is nothing more social than sharing a family-style meal amongst friends! The relaxed atmosphere gave everyone a chance to catch up with many people whom they hadn't seen since VoCAL Nation in March, as well as kicking off new relationships with new friendly faces. Hosted in the Chinatown section of the city, members took a moment to pose outside of the Redline bar and send a virtual hello to our friends in Boston in the group of the same name.

It wasn't until bright an early Saturday morning that the actual agenda items made an appearance. Meeting in a classroom inside the Greenbelt Community Center, plans came together that include increasing benefits for League members to provide additional resources, networking and performance opportunities, as well as several colloborative creative ventures that will benefit the a cappella community as a whole. A significant portion of the day was spent brainstorming and discussing best practices for all aspects of creating and running an adult group. Each director shared challenges and received well practiced, proven solutions from others in the room, covering everything from start up, auditions, rehearsal, repertoire, recording, marketing, gigging and social media, to more difficult topics such as group morale, time management, respecting adult schedules and responsibilities and handling the ever difficult bouts of intergroup drama. Discussions were lively and thorough and everyone left armed with new tactics to try. So as not to leave out our fellow directors who were unable to make the trip, all ideas were dutifully noted and shared with all active League groups. To reward a hard day's work, everyone traveled together back into DC for a meal at Old Ebbitt's Grill, a capital institution. Post dinner, the location afforded a perfect opportunity to pay visit to the White House and a view of the National Mall at sunset. But of course, we had to sneak in a little singing first, much to the surprise of the street performer who had an unexpected backup chorus join in on his performance.

During brunch on Sunday, attendees had the opportunity to meet with CASA festival representatives to shape the future of the League-centric VoCAL Nation. Great ideas to be had all around and thankfully the conversation was much more successful than my attempt to use my new waffle maker. Luckily, my guests were happy to take over so that everyone had the option of fresh waffles to go with their eggycheezy (a CASA tradition). After brunch, attendees began to go their separate ways, but with a renewed sense of excitement about all things a cappella. So excited, in fact, we're already planning for a smaller Retreat Take 2 on the west coast later this year. If you are interested in participating, please contact our team at league@casa.org

Thank you to all attendees for your valuable contributions which made this an event a success! To check out some of the conversation from the Retreat, I encourage you to check out #CALretreat2011 on Twitter, as many attendees actively documented the weekend for social media followers. And see below for additional posts from the viewpoint of the attendees!


No where else in the world would I be able to become immersed in aca-bliss! The CAL Directors Retreat of 2011 was amazing. So many great people with so many great ideas all in one place face to face. I talked about mixing with Charlie Friday. I hung out at Amanda Aldag's house. I talked about strategies to start a group with Brian Chambers.  I stayed up late exchanging tracks with my roommate Micky Hamilton.  Kristin LoBiondo and Tom Keys actually learned something from me and not visa versa for the first time ever!  It was an incredible weekend!  Thank you to Padi Boyd for letting me stay in your home. And thank you Amanda and Tom for arranging (no pun intended) such a great weekend. I miss you all very much already. See you at SoJam!!! -Matt Caruso