By Ann Linstroth, CISR, PWCAM
I just returned from my first (and certainly not last!) Winter Get-Away with the PIAW, at The Waters of Minocqua. We had a record turnout of 130, this year, including 80 agents! A big thank you to Heidi Hodel and Brenda Steinbach for organizing and staffing a spectacular conference.
The WGA commenced with a 3-hour Continuing Education class Wednesday afternoon that addressed “Insuring Toys for Big Girls & Boys” presented by Mary LaPorte. What better topic being held in a city that is known as “Natures Original Water Park.” It’s called that because it’s located in the middle of Northern Wisconsin’s Lake Country where fun is always in season.
The evening WGA activities kicked off with a delicious buffet dinner followed by fun bowling at Island City Lanes. Did you know, back in the 1900’s bowling balls used to be made out of wood and didn’t have any holes? It’s challenging enough to hit the target with modern equipment. I don’t know about you, but those fun facts made me feel a lot better about my abilities on the lanes that night.
Thursday morning attendees were welcomed by Mary LaPorte as she provided 4 additional hours of Continuing Education that addressed the topic “Creating an Internal E&O Loss Control Program.” Mary is an expert on agency operations, so this session alone was worth the $119 cost of the conference! Class adjourned and everyone gathered for a buffet lunch before heading out to their chosen activity: Snowmobiling, or a Bus Adventure. Heidi graciously stayed back at the hotel to play games with those who preferred the warmth of the lodge.
I elected to go on the Bus Adventure and the first stop was the Sportsman’s Chalet where we were welcomed by a very friendly staff. This is the place where the legendary Chicken Sh*t Bingo takes place. You’ve got to see-it-to-believe-it. Participants received a packet of numbered chips in various colors and then came the announcement, “chickens going out!” This is where seeing is believing… We proceeded to walk along an icy path to the back yard where a large chicken was placed in a cage with a board of numbers underneath. Everyone gathered around the board to cheer the chicken on to “pick” their number in her own chicken pickin’ way. Winner, winner, chicken’s dinner – I held one of the (4) lucky numbers thanks to the chicken’s digestive generosity.
The next bus stop was The Timbers where Julie Rojas and Lori Taylor were waiting for us with some silly and raucous ice breaker games which provided many hearty laughs for participants and spectators alike. Well done ladies, thank you for a really good time and great laughs. Our last stop was Murmuring Waters which was especially nostalgic for me having spent several summers in my childhood up North in Phelps, WI at places just like this right on the lake. It’s a quaint log construction bar that really captures the feeling of the great north woods.
Next up was dinner and dancing at the beautiful Whitetail Inn. This place was truly spectacular! It’s an enormous log structure, featuring one of the largest stone fireplaces I’ve ever seen and decorated with ornate chandeliers made out of deer antlers. For dinner: filet mignon, salmon and rotisserie chicken. Conversation flowed. People made connections. There was live music and everyone sang along when “Bye, Bye Miss American Pie” was played. The dancing didn’t stop until the “last bus leaving” was announced.
As a new Board member and Chair of the Convention Planning Committee, I have to give a big shout out to all of the Committee members who helped bring this event to life.
I hope that all attendees found this to be as fun and informative as I did. For those who missed out, whether you’re an agency owner, producer, company representative, or a CSR you will not want to miss next year’s gathering.
I’m very proud to be part of such a talented, fun and focused organization that is committed to being member-centric and dedicated to making an impact on the industry. The PIAW enables me to continually learn and collaborate with others to drive positive change and results. Hope to see all of you in Green Bay this fall when we proudly unveil our new brand, mission, and vision at “Engage 2020.” That will be October 7-8, so put it on your calendar now!