An Ode to ShoreLeave Con

img_20160717_091617_28313355742_oIf your Twitter stream was like mine last weekend it was filled with nerdtastic Con pictures, cosplay, and a slight dash of “why am I so poor and unable to go to all the cons??” Labor Day weekend seemed to be a convergence of cons!  So I thought I’d post about my favorite “con”….one that is now on my calendar every year and IS my vacation. (let’s face it, as a retail store owner in a tourist town I don’t get a real vacation, even when I leave town for 48 hours I’m still a phone call away to put out fires and answer “where did we put” questions)

So on to my ODE… not in true Ode form,though!

img_20160717_152750_27801190354_oShore Leave  (just north of Baltimore every July or August) is SO different that the cons you see in social media. First it’s not run by a company, but by a Star Trek Fan Club… all volunteers. It’s not sleek and it’s not for those that are pseudo-fans. Since it’s been going on for 30+ years there are some families that are on their 3rd generation of attendees… and it IS VERY family friendly. I think of it more as “nerd camp at a fancy hotel” than a “con”.

There are panels all day… but they are not professionals trying to buy your fandom with trailer hype (*cough San Diego ComiCon cough*), it’s the fan club volunteers leading discussions.

The guest actors each have 2 Q&A sessions in the big ballroom, very interactive. (this year’s actors included Karen Gillan, Anthony Montgomery, Michael Trucco, plus img_20160716_120242_27802232353_osome guest stars from the original series and 2 stars from the SyFy show Dark Matter)

There are also official signing times, but lots of times the actors will just be hanging out at their designated signing tables talking to the fans and taking pictures.

There are 2 ballrooms full of vendors.. mostly selling fan memorabilia, and homemade fan crafts. It started as all Star Trek, but there were TONS of StarWars, Doctor Who, Steampunk and other geekdom things.

Plus they do at least 1 panel on each Sci-Fi TV show and movie out that year… and again all just discussions about previous season, predictions, favorite moments/characters etc.

img_20160716_114159_28135422690_oFor littler kids they have a track that is lots of geeky arts and crafts.. and shooting off model rockets.

For teen there is a track that is mostly focused on writing (plus a few “we love you be who you are”  &  LGBTQ parties for teens)

There is a game room open the entire time. This year they had an open Magic tournament, Aaron participated in an open Warhammer game (his first and won a prize!), and there is a space RPG creator that demos his latest module all day Sat & Sunday (Aaron spends a good chunk of his time there).. plus just open gaming tables with the types of games we all like to play.


And if that weren’t enough- there are NASA scientists and professors that do the sciency parts of Sci-Fi presentations, AND lead stargazing each night.

Oh and there is a hilarious costume contest (the line to get into that was almost as long as the line for Karen Gillan). There is a huge dance party.

There is a fan art show/silent auction.

AND there are several fundraisers- a poker tournament, a collection spot for the MD Food Bank, and have the Red Cross there doing a blood drive.

It’s is really nerd heaven… with a pinch of good old liberalism thrown in since it embodies the Star Trek ideal of infinite diversity in infinite combinations. And it’s totally safe for kids to be kids, and not have to tag along with mom. Lots of the teens volunteer their time and help run the signing lines. Not to mention the total and complete acceptance of anyone and everyone…

So you can see why A) it’s hard to describe as just a “Con” and B) I’ve already made our reservations for next year. The dates are July 7-9, 2017… SEE YOU THERE?!?