ASCA 2013: Diary of a (Not Very) Young Counselor

photo-23Who knew that the ASCA annual conference would be so great? Well, probably lots of people, but this first-time attendee had her socks knocked off! It’s hard to know where to begin – I learned so much at all the sessions I attended, discovered terrific resources, and met some incredible school counselors. I’ll share some of my favorite resources in a later post, but for now – inspired by letters I’ve been getting from students at camp, and by the Twitterfest that went on at #ASCA13 – I’ve got something a little more fun in mind, something to give you a sense of what it was like to be there.

This one time, at ASCA Camp . . .

Saturday night

Dear Diary,

I rode the airport shuttle with a gaggle of super nice school counselors from Tennessee and South Carolina. Only one of us wasn’t using the term y’all. :(  When I said goodbye, though, out it popped: “Hope y’all have a great conference!”  I’m already learning from new friends!

@DearDiary TYL – that’s southern for “tweet y’all later!” #yankeegirl


I’m so official!!!!!

Sunday Morning

Dear Diary, 

Today I had a full day of “RAMP Camp.” The very first person I met at ASCA13 recognized my name! It turned out she’s a School Counseling by Heart reader from South Carolina!!! We’ve already worked on our projects together (yay teamwork!) and are gonna have our 5th grade friends Skype or Voice Thread with each other or something awesome like that. I bet my friends are gonna be like all “y’all” too after they meet the kids from South Carolina! Haha!

The next person I met leaned over partway through the session and whispered, “What’s RAMP?” I told her, and she was like, “So this has nothing to do with finding out about camps for kids to go to?” Ooof! This was a pre-conference, so she had paid extra for something TOTALLY different from what she thought it was gonna be. She had a pretty good attitude, though.     

@DearDiary Camper next 2 me not back after lunch. Maybe @ arts & crafts or archery? LOL! Hoping 4 s’mores at RAMP Camp! #happycamper


My first friend at #ASCA13! And her name’s Rebecca too!!!!

Sunday Night 

Dear Diary,

I had dinner with Craig and Jackie who, now that they are like grad students, live in Philadelphia in their own apartment (together – don’t tell my mom!) They are actual professional statisticians and were totally impressed to hear about how school counselors use data! Math is so cool! Wait, does this dinner count as Career Cafe? 

@DearDiary I <3 data!!! #counselingnerd

Later Sunday Night  

Dear Diary, 

The School Counselor Tweet-Up was So.Much.Fun! Finally, I get to meet all these people I know on Twitter, live and in person! It was like a reunion, except we hadn’t actually met before. Is that weird? Danielle Schultz from School Counselor Blog made us these awesome name tags with QR codes on them and everything! According to my roomie, Andrea Burston from JYJCounselor and I actually screamed when we finally met. I’m sure we were far more mature than that. Seriously, it was only a little screeching.   

@DearDiary Throat sore – need cough drop! #iwasntscreaming


Andrea and I. Smiling, not screaming!

Monday Morning

Dear Diary,  

Why, oh why can’t we have a Reading Terminal Market right next to school????!!!!! There are some awesome food choices there! And the place was crawling with school counselors – haha! (The falafel seller told me we were way more polite than the beer conventioneers who were there before us.) This morning I went to “Learn to Love Data” and wow, I really did! Seriously, I could kiss data! Not really, LOL! I also love that all the presenter’s Redesigning School Counseling resources are free, free, free! 

@DearDiary Where’s my next session? #ASCAapp


Yup, there’s an app for that!

Monday Afternoon 

Dear Diary,  

This afternoon I went to an actual smackdown – a “Web 2.0 Smackdown,” that is! Haha did you think I meant an actual fight?!!! The place was packed, and you just wouldn’t believe all the techie stuff we learned about! There were five different presenters and they rotated through telling us about a new tech tool every 3 minutes. There was not one single minute when you could have gotten bored. I’m going to tell all my friends that they definitely have to go to one of these – it was the coolest thing ever!    

@DearDiary 4 SCs in an elevator at end of a long #ASCA13 day, all too tired to remember to push the buttons #naptime

Monday night  

Dear Diary,   

I went to dinner with my new BFFs, all really awesome school counselors. OMG you should have seen the cool booth we sat in! It was like we were movie stars! Part of the time we were complaining talking about when we’ve had to work with people who are um, quote-unquote less than positive. Somebody was like, “Oh well, you know, they’re kind of old.” Then I was like, “Yeah, old,” and then, OMG Duh! realized that what the rest of them meant by old, might not be what I meant by old. I was like “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! How old are they?” My new BFFs got all quiet and stuff like they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I SWORE that I would still like them no matter WHAT they said. Which I do, even though their “old people” are the same age as me. Oh well, somebody’s got to be the mature one.

@DearDiary Does this phone case make me look old? #midlifecrisis

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 10.58.40 PM

School counselors OR movie stars? It’s hard to say.

Tuesday Morning  

Dear Diary,  

Finally! A chance to check out Philadelphia! Note to self: lots of tourists in Philadelphia around the 4th of July.  Here’s something I will never, ever forget: the exhibit about Hercules, Oney Judge, Joe, Austin, Paris, Moll, Christopher Sheels, Richmond, and Giles – people who were owned as slaves by George Washington. Did you know that President Washington got around the law that said slaves were to be freed after six months in Pennsylvania by sending them on trips back to Mount Vernon in Virginia? NEITHER DID I! It makes me SICK! Everybody needs to watch the videos that tell the stories of these enslaved people! Our conference is titled “Liberty and Learning for Everyone.” I think all Americans should have to Learn about how Liberty hasn’t always been for Everyone!    

@DearDiary Giving The Father of Our Country a piece of my mind in my head #boo

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 12.17.30 AM

President George Washington brought these people, in slavery, to Philadelphia, where, by law, they should have been free.

Tuesday Afternoon 

Dear Diary, 

Another great session – “From Playgrounds of Prejudice to Respectful Elementary Schools.”  (No ACTUAL playground – haha!) So glad – and relieved – to be from a place where people are mostly pretty chill about all kinds of families and different sexual orientations. It’s hard enough for kids to deal with stuff like this without people in their towns giving you-know-what to the schools that are trying to help! Hopefully the counselors will all get to use the Ready, Set, Respect toolkit you can download for free. The lessons are SERIOUSLY good. You know they must be because when it comes to teaching materials, I am pick-y! 

@DearDiary U know what’s #notatASCA13? Enough power outlets #lame


2000 counselors x (app + tweeting) = charging dilemma

Tuesday Night   

Dear Diary,  

The Blogger Meet & Greet was SO AMAZING! I actually got to hang out with the people who I have learned so much from. It was really, really cool to meet the people who read my blog – they are all super nice. Seriously, they said really kind things to me. I was like overwhelmed!  Some of them are even going to start blogs of their own, which is awesome because everybody is coming from their own perspective and I’ll be able to learn tons from them too – I  hope they send me the links! It was super fun to SCOPE everyone out! Haha! Get it????? 

You should scope them out too: Jeremy Goldman – Pikesville High School Counseling Blog   Marissa Rex – Elementary School   Darrell Sampson – From the Counselor’s Office   Jeff Ream – The Counseling Geek    Susan Fuller – Entirely Elementary School Counseling    Andrea Burston – JYJ Counselor  Danielle Schultz – School Counselor Blog


@DearDiary Met a guy! #notlikethat He’s a guy AND an elem SC. Whoa! #rarebreed


Bloggers at the Blogger Meet and Greet
Back row, L-R: Jeremy from Pikesville High Counseling, Marissa from Elementary School, Darrell from From the Counselor’s Office, Jeff from The Counseling Geek, Sue from Entirely Elementary School Counseling
Front Row, L-R: Rebecca (that’s me!) from School Counseling by Heart, Andrea from JYJCounselor, Danielle from School Counselor Blog

Tuesday, way too late   

Dear Diary,    

It’s going to be so sad to leave ASCA13! At first I was all like, “Will they like me? Will I make any friends? Will it be boring?” but now I’m all “I love everybody sooooo much and I am sooooo much smarter than when I came.” Also, you get way better cell reception here than in Vermont. Just sayinNo, seriously, all these school counselors are amazing, and so inspirational. I am so lucky!

@DearDiary Roomie talking in her sleep about #ASCA13 #timetogohome


Here I am with the people who inspired me to start School Counseling by Heart: Danielle Schultz @sch_counselor, Erin Mason (from SCOPE) @ecmason, and Andrea Burston @jyjcounselor. I am so grateful to them for all their help! Also, they’re hilarious!

Wednesday Morning   

Dear Diary,   

I started the morning at “Early Warning Indicators for At-Risk Students,” which was really, really, really good. Seriously, I could listen to this presenter all day! Guess how they abbreviate “Early Warning Indicators!” – EWI! Hahahaha! I have definitely seen some early warning indicators that made me go “ew!”     

Wish I’d had an early warning indicator that my flight was going to be delayed, because then I wouldn’t have had to be rude and walk out while Rachel Simmons was still talking about mean girls. She is AWESOME! Seriously, it was sooooo embarrassing. It was like 2000 people stopped looking at Rachel Simmons and started looking at me walking all the way out from practically the front of the room. I was DYING!  Wait, OMG do you think Rachel thought I was being a mean girl?????? Do you think I should text her and tell her I’m sorry? Oh no, wait, now I remember! She said girls shouldn’t apologize for being themselves.  Whew! She’s probably totally over it anyway.   


See, I think she could see me when I was leaving. She’s pretty big. In a good way.

Now here I am waiting in the airport for my plane to show up. I had such an awesome time at camp ASCA13. I’m going to miss my new BFFs so much, and I will never forget everything I learned and the great times we had together. I can’t wait to tell the kids at school all about it!    

@DearDiary See y’all at #ASCA14! #nextyearforsure


You might also be interested in . . .   

Teaching Group Skills So You Can Teach Skills in a Group 

Teaching Kids How to Tell About Sexual Abuse  

Helping Kids Understand Asperger’s   

SuperCounselor is Thankful For . . .   

Hopelessness Drove Us Up the Wall, and There We Found Hope

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11 responses

  1. Rebecca – This is a great post. So fun to read your diary. Hope that means you will be in Orlando in 2014 and beyond. Gotta love the ASCA conference!

  2. Thank you so much for writing about the conference and in such detail! I have thought about going and so far haven’t, but your reporting shows clearly the value!

  3. I wasn’t able to make the trek from WA state…though several of my WASCA colleagues were in Philly with you. Maybe you met Deb at the RAMP session. Thanks for the peek into your diary travalogue. Your enthusiasm and excitement ooooozed right out of your wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Rebecca,
    It was wonderful to meet you at the Smackdown!!! I apologize that Imissed the meet and greet, something personal came up:( I too was very inspired at Asca13 and started my blog, school counselor companion, back up!! I really really enjoyed this post!! You have a great attitude and sense of humor!!

  5. I couldn’t make it this year, but I truly loved reading your diary….very inspirational….I had to giggle about the age part, because that was how I felt in grad school – since I was a nontraditional student. lol Love your humor and your students will appreciate it too!

  6. That was hilarious. I was laughing outloud at some points trying to explain it to my girlfriend, who is a music teacher… unfortunately, not all of the jokes translate…

  7. Pingback: Let’s Go Back to School – Together! | School Counseling by Heart

  8. Pingback: SuperCounselor Saves The Future of School Counseling | School Counseling by Heart

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