This is the time to start planning for next summer - the most popular season for such events - so here are some tips and resources to help you get together with your far-flung relatives in person.
For even more on family reunions, see another previous MyHeritage Genealogy Blog post which provided more tips, resources and a 12-step "getting organized" outline to plan a family reunion.
Don't forget that your family website at MyHeritage is a great way to stay in touch with prospective family reunion attendees. Share pre-event planning and programs, and then provide - post-reunion - photos and videos of the reunion for the whole family to see. It will encourage those who didn't or couldn't attend the event to show up next time.
As a young girl visiting my grandmother in upstate New York during the summers, we would often go to see her friend Fanny who lived not far away.
I remember the old country farm house set in large surrounding fields. While Grandma and Fanny were talking downstairs, I was given permission to go up to the attic and scrounge around.
Fanny and her family had bought the place from people who had long been living there, and the attic was full of what people generally hide away. I found ancient letters, old newspapers covering historical events, all sorts of documents, books, photographs, as well as odd pieces of furniture, art work and old-fashioned clothing. At that young age, I didn't recognize the importance of these finds.
Now that I am so involved in family history and artifacts, I often wish I had an opportunity to revisit that treasure trove. Unfortunately, the house is long gone, and a housing development fills those fields.
Now that I'm back to my normal routine, I'm trying to review the great experiences from this summer.
Great times included four conferences in California, Washington State and Texas; visiting dear friends and family members; and meeting several relatives for the first time as we shared family history.
At all the conferences, I helped explain what we do at MyHeritage.com and how our tools and features make it easy for families to connect and communicate no matter where they live.
My suitcase now includes several new T-shirts from this year's events and some for 2011 events.
Here are some highlights:
Some 50 geneabloggers attended the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree this year.
After reconnecting with someone whom I knew in California and who was now in New Jersey, I realized her husband's family's long connection to a small community, now a suburb of a larger city, in that Eastern state. My own family had a long-ago connection to the same community when it was much, much smaller, and more rural.
My great-grandmother's sister and her husband had settled in that small town soon after they arrived in 1905, although my great-grandmother and her family lived in nearby big-city Newark.
I took a chance and asked if the woman's husband, whose family had lived there from the early 1900s, possibly had known my relatives. It was very exciting to learn that my great-grandmother's sister had been the husband's babysitter!
I have to admit that some of my own recent research is not as organized as it could be, due to lack of time. There are notes on loose papers not yet in the correct folder or binder. There are photographs waiting to be sorted. There are miscellaneous printed emails that I understand - would anyone else?
Although beginning researchers might not think about this important topic, it is essential to address at every stage of research.
What will happen to your research if you become ill or worse? Will it be just thrown away? Will close family or other relatives understand what your work represents and its value?
This is a very personal topic for me as our family lost a 300-year-old family tree brought by one of the last family members to arrive from Belarus to the US in the early 1900s. He died in Florida in the 1950s and neither of his children were there. Everything in the house, including our priceless family history, was simply thrown away.
No matter how much research I do, the information contained in that tree will be impossible to replace in its entirety. It was compiled by those who lived that history and who knew much more than I can ever learn.
Today's family history researchers see varying attitudes among their own children.
Some are disappointed and say their children have no interest at all in this journey of discovery; while others can point to an early curiosity in their children.
How can we encourage our children, regardless of their age, toddlers through young adults? Are there classes for kids? What techniques are available?
Instill in each child, grandchild, and great-grandchild a sense of their own family heritage. Share those family stories, the good and the bad of your own childhood. No matter how young, teach them, show them; remember that they are the future, for you, for me, for genealogy.(Page 2, Winter 2009 Newsletter, Young Genealogists Association)
One program that has drawn much attention is the annual Kid's Family History Camp, associated with the Southern California Genealogical Society's annual Jamboree conference and in conjunction with the Youth Genealogists Association. More than 150 people attended the 2009 kids' camp, which featured such topics as creating and preserving your family history, genealogy games, family history storytelling, genealogy merit badge, genealogy art and more.
The program is free and open to the public, for boys and girls ages 8-16. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. This year, the program runs from 9am-noon, on Friday, June 11, Jamboree's opening day, at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Hotel and Convention Center (Burbank, California).
The SCGS program is also designed for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who are working on obtaining their genealogy badges. See badge requirements here. The camp is also a resource for students working on class "roots" assignments.
Students planning to attend should download a pedigree chart and a family group sheet and complete it as best they can.
For more information on this special program, and to download the various forms, click here.