By Ali Renckens, Florida

Many delegates (including myself) postpone packing until the day they leave. For first-year CONA delegates who do not know what to expect, the Blue Ridge Journal has some pro-tips for last-minute packers:

1. Marilyn Monroe once said, “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.” This does not apply to women who are walking up and down a mountain all day. Leave the heels at home; bring flats!

2. CONA proves that time ticks by faster at higher altitudes. Bring a watch to make sure you are on time to delegation meetings, meals, and any other activities and take advantage of every moment.

3. CONA is a time to bond with delegates from every corner of the country. To keep in touch with all your new pals, get a Facebook account! You can share pictures of the view from Lee Hall porch and post sentimental statuses about your time at Blue Ridge. (If you’re not on the CONA 2013 Facebook group, ask someone to add you!)

4. Use the ride to Blue Ridge to exercise your fingers. You will need them to be strong and limber for all of the spirit fingers you will be giving!

5. For the full CONA experience, everyone should partake of at least one Eureka Treat and/or Cheerwine. Set aside a few dollars to purchase these sweet, tasty treats!

6. Carry your state spirit all over Blue Ridge. Chant, yell, and live your state pride!

7. Finally, and most importantly, come with an open mind. You will encounter many delegates who hold opposing views to yours. These people still can, and will, become your best friends if you are willing to listen and get to know them.