After each year’s conference, the staff invites about 75 attendees—youth workers in the trenches—to the Group Publishing office to provide feedback on the conference. “We pump them full of questions—we want the good, the bad, and the ugly,” he says. The goal is to come out of it with ideas on how to improve the next year’s conference.

“We don’t want to lose our moorings, if you will. That’s where other conferences, no matter what their specialty is, can go awry because the audience becomes further removed from the planning,” says Ostrander. “We try to keep that audience right in our back pocket as much as we possibly can.” The team deliberates over the post-conference evaluations for several days, even asking youth worker attendees to call in during those sessions to voice their input.