Every summer AO Unlimited returns to its birthplace in Boiling Springs, NC, for the annual ChildlightUSA Charlotte Mason Conference. While we are not affiliated with Childlight, we have met unofficially at the Childlight conference since 2008. The Childlight administration has graciously worked with us over the years, allowing us to use their facilities and meet with speakers from their conference.
Each conference we meet new lifelong friends and come away refreshed and encouraged. We hold events like book discussions and read-alouds, fireside chats, a walk down the nature trail, and the annual Regency Ball. We play board games and act out impromptu Shakespeare scenes. We also meet with speakers from the Childlight conference to talk about everything from Charlotte Mason in college to political philosophy in the Twilight Zone.
Teens who attend the Charlotte Mason Student Conference generally tag along with a parent who is attending the Childlight conference. We don't have a way to register people or a place to lodge them ourselves, so any teens wanting to come should sign up for the Childlight conference so they have full access to the apartments, cafeteria, and the Childlight conference sessions. In past years, registration has been available at a discounted rate for teens attending with a parent.
"It was so uplifting and downright fun to find so many like-minded people my own age there. I laughed harder and longer than I had for a long time. It's something special when you meet people that you click with in an hour. Sometimes when we're by ourselves surrounded by teens who go to a public high school it can be hard to find good friends who are so much like you. This conference has been the highlight of my year, and some other teens said the same. I have so many plans for next year, and can hardly wait to see my friends again!" - Hannah, 18
Dancing at the ball, 2010
"I don't think I can remember ever meeting so many people with whom we had so much in common. It was good for all of us to meet and hang out with like-minded peers. ...The CLUSA conference is a great opportunity for us teens, most of whom have been raised on CM, to learn about her ideas from experienced teachers and thinkers and writers. It is a chance for us to learn more about Charlotte Mason's philosophy, so that we can understand why we were raised as we have been, and why CM education is still important for us even as we're graduating and going out into the world." - Tim, 18
Before leaving, 2009
"The Charlotte Mason Conference was, for me, a wonderful chance to connect with other similar-thinking teens. For the first time in my life I was perfectly able to chat about Jane Austen, Tolkien, current politics and events, all with people my own age! And when I wasn't being stimulated by the company of my peers, I was able to be instructed on a variety of subjects by fascinating speakers. Everywhere there was a great medley of people to discuss ideas and theories with. It has inspired me to once again look on school as a wonderful opportunity and chance for knowledge, rather than as something that must be done. Overall it was a very worthwhile and very enjoyable experience—I will certainly be returning next year." - Kaley, 16
Shakespeare in the park, 2011
"I had a great time at the teen conference. I felt the events were organized and there was a good amount of them to participate in." - David, 16