The information that follows refers specifically to CAMWS meetings, but much of it applies to APA and other professional meetings as well.

Do I need to register in advance? What if I forgot to register?

Advance registration is available up until about one month before the meeting date, and is less expensive than regular registration. If you failed to meet the advance registration deadline, there is no need to panic; you can simply register for the meeting when you arrive. Non-members are free to attend CAMWS meetings, but at a higher price, and you would do just as well to join the organization instead.

Do I need to register at all?

You must register for the meeting to be on the program. CAMWS also expects you to register for the meeting even if you intend only to attend paper sessions; one-day registrations are available. In practice, you are unlikely ever to be asked for your credentials, and a blind eye is sometimes turned to the presence of local undergraduates in particular. But good citizens always register.

When should I plan to arrive and leave?

CAMWS Meetings always run officially from Wednesday to Saturday. But very little happens on Wednesday, and most people arrive late in the day or even early Thursday. Although sessions continue until mid-afternoon on Saturday, it is widely understood that attendees may have to leave earlier than that to get home at a reasonable hour. Very few people stay over Saturday night, although a Sunday departure allows you the chance to see more of the city for the cost of one additional night's stay in the hotel.

Should I stay at the main hotel?

When CAMWS decides to hold a meeting in a city, it enters into an advance contract with a particular hotel. The hotel agrees to set aside a certain number of rooms at a fixed (usually steeply discounted) rate, and to provide meeting rooms, banquet facilities, and the like. In return, CAMWS guarantees that it will either fill the rooms with conference attendees or pay the difference. It is therefore important to the organization that you stay in the hotel if possible. Equally important, the very real inconvenience and incidental costs associated with being in a different hotel make it generally not worth saving five or ten dollars a night that way. On the other hand, if you have friends or family in the area, you may be able to save several hundred dollars by staying with them, and the organization will understand. CAMWS hotels not infrequently sell out (at least at the guaranteed rate), and there is no disadvantage to registering as early as possible; you can always cancel your room if it becomes necessary.

Should I attend the banquet? What about the other "official events"?

CAMWS banquets are odd and sometimes interesting events. If economics are a factor, you may find that you can get a better meal less expensively elsewhere, although this means that you will miss the opportunity to hear the always riveting Presidential Address. If you do choose to attend the banquet, you should plan to come with a group of friends and sit together. You should also consider bringing a bottle of wine (and a corkscrew).

As for other official events, the opening reception on Wednesday night is free and generally features food (although only a cash bar), and there is no reason not to go. The most important CAMWS reception is late Friday afternoon at the host institution. This is always very nice and sometimes extravagant, and you should not miss it. If you are on a very limited budget, it can often serve as Friday dinner.

Are there "unofficial events"?

CAMWS is notoriously short on large parties and receptions. The reception after the banquet on Friday night features music but no food and is generally deserted (although there is no reason why you and your friends should not attempt to change that). Most people go out to dinner with friends in the evening; if possible, make plans in advance to do this, rather than waiting until you are at the meeting itself, when it is very easy to lose people (or to be lost yourself).

What happens at paper sessions?

Unlike at the APA (where most of the action is in the halls), CAMWS paper sessions are extremely well-attended, and relatively little goes on at the same time outside of them. If you choose not to attend a paper session, therefore, you should be prepared to entertain yourself. Again in contrast to the APA, it is common to attend entire paper sessions, although you are free to stay only for a paper or two. "Best practice" is to avoid entering or leaving the room during an individual paper, although everyone recognizes that this is occasionally necessary. Questions at CAMWS sessions are generally not overtly hostile, and aggressive arguing or obvious attempts to "score points" are seen as bad form. In general, there is time for only three or four questions per paper. But you should feel free to joinor sparkthe conversation, if something interests (or disturbs) you.

The CAMWS Graduate Student Association generally organizes a well-attended session featuring senior members of the field offering practical advice; be sure to be there.

What else is there to do at a meeting?

CAMWS meetings, like APA meetings, are above all else opportunities to make and renew personal and professional friendships. Most people are ready to talk, at least for a while, and many are just as lost in the crowd as you may feel you are. Social and conversational circles are extremely fluid; if you know one member of a group, that is a more than sufficient excuse to go over and say hello to everyone. Make it your goal to make one new friend per meeting. In a few years, you will appear to know everyone and other people will wonder how you have managed to become so well-connected.

Make it a point to go out to lunch or dinner with friends old or new. Dinner groups of more than 6-8 rapidly become awkward and impossible; but inviting a new friend to join your group for lunch or dinner is a nice thing to do, particularly if he or she appears to be alone. If you choose wisely and well, this will earn you a reputation for being a good and generous individual, and may make you friends to last a professional lifetime.

The book exhibit at CAMWS is much smaller than that at the APA. But discount order forms (generally 20% or so off list prices) are usually available for many publishers and can be taken home with youmeaning that you do not need to decide immediately which books to purchase, and also that you can share the lists with friends at home.

What should I wear?

If you are being interviewed for a job or are presenting a paper, wear a sports jacket or suit and tie (men) or a tasteful business-style dress or suit (women); do not wear perfume or cologne, and think very carefully about the impression the nose-ring will make. Otherwise, a shirt and tie or its female equivalent is fine. Do not dress like an undergraduate unless you wish to be treated like one.

How do I apply to give a paper at the next CAMWS Meeting?

One-page abstacts are generally due seven to eight months before the meeting (early fall for an April meeting); the official CAMWS site has precise information.