1. Being able to spend four quality days with my daughter, Emma. She is 18 and was with me in 2011. But who knows how many opportunities for quality time like this we will have. She will be going to college next year so she is growing up.
2. This year was more relaxed. We didn't go with a parish. Due to circumstances, we went with a family group of five kids and four parents. So the only person I was responsible for was Emma and since she is 18 I didn't have to worry about her every moment. (I've very grateful that they were able to make this family group happen, by the way)
3. This year seemed to run more smoothly in my opinion. I'm sure it helped that it was the second year they've done it at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center.
4. The mega sessions were in held in much bigger venues it seemed. We weren't able to make one session because it was full but we were able to go across the hall and see Mike Patin in a mega session and there probably a couple thousand people already in the hall but we were able to slip in and have plenty of space. There were also able to see Mark Hart and the comedy show when in years past they were full.
5. They opened up seating in Lucas Oil Stadium which meant you didn't have to stand in line waiting for the doors to open in order to get seats. We were able to enter well into to warm up sessions and still find seats, although it probably helped we only had a group of nine.
6. I felt the general sessions were a lot smoother and never seemed to drag at all. Sure, not everything caught my attention but you can't please everyone all the time. Jesse Manibusan was wonderful as emcee. He did his job very well and let the magic happen.
7. Matt Maher. He was the opening night key note and one of my favorite musical artists. He has been at NCYC before but this was the first time I had seen him. He apologized and said he voice was horrible but I thought it was great. Probably one of my favorite sessions.
8. The plane. This was the first year we flew and let me tell you what---an hour and a half flight on Southwest is much better than a 10 hour bus ride especially when that 10 hour ride has turned into 24 when the bus breaks down and you have to spend the night in a cruddy motel off the highway.
9. The comedy show. This is the first year I've made it to the comedy show and I had a blast. Judy McDonald had me in stitches (with the dogma joke especially) . I saw some of my favorite acts like Popple and I saw a couple of new ones I'd never seen before like Chris Padgett.
10. Probably my favorite thing about NCYC 2013 was getting to meet a ton of people I look up to. I got to touch base with Mark Hart--who I've met before. I met Lino Rulli and had him sign my book "Saint." And one of the kids from my group got to be on The Busted Halo Show!
The next NCYC will be in 2015 again in Indianapolis. I don't know if my son will be going but I am hopeful to be able to find some way to be there--either by tagging along with another group or maybe leading my own again. If you will be in high school in 2015, or have a kid who will be in high school in 2015---I highly encourage you to be there.