By Olivia Cornforth
Staff Writer
Delegates compare notes on their first day at CONA. --photo by Benjamin Hearn

Delegates compare notes on their first day at CONA.
— Photo by Benjamin Hearn

As a new session of the YMCA Conference on National Affairs unfolds, dozens of delegates climb the iconic Blue Ridge Mountains for their first conference. For many, stepping off the bus is a critical moment in the beginning of an amazing experience. The drive was long, but when I got here the view was great,” Maxx Cook of Missouri said.
From swapping shirts and pins with delegates from other states to getting up early in order to enjoy a few quiet moments on the porch of Eureka Hall, the first day of CONA is laden with new and unforgettable experiences. Despite some nervousness and initial intimidation, first-year delegates find ways to step out of their comfort zones and join in the fun.
“I’ve met such amazing people on this trip,” Michelle Adams of California said. “I’m astounded to see how spiritual, intellectual and exciting people are. I’m hoping to get more knowledge on other people’s opinions and their perspectives on things.”
On Sunday, new delegates bustled to their first proposal sharing group, the introductory step in the proposal presenting process. “I’m confident that everyone will blossom out of their shells during this experience, and hopefully I get to see that respected in a new way,” Adams said. “I want to see people cross party lines, racial lines, and just get out of their comfort zones. I’m excited for the opportunity to share my thoughts in a safe place.”

First-year delegates can feel the famous Blue Ridge Spirit. The friendliness of delegates and their willingness to listen to other perspectives are characteristics of CONA and the expanded comfort zone it creates. First-year attendees, like all other attendees, have an opportunity to participate in something life changing. As far as experiences go, first year delegates and returning delegates alike can agree that there is infinite potential in the upcoming week.