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January 2004

They Call Me the Bid Committee Chick

Get to ICYPAA," her sponsor told her. "It's the biggest party of young people in AA

I have gone to the International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (ICYPAA) off and on for years since it was held in Anaheim, California in 1996. Usually, I am a little disappointed after the conference because I have to go back to the real world and work like the adult I've become.

I grew up in Alcoholics Anonymous, and until I was twenty-one years old with almost two years of sobriety, I didn't realize there were other young people in AA. I had moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and found many young people living sober in AA. I was excited and amazed. I also found a sponsor, Kathy, who was twenty-eight years old and had eight years of sobriety.

My sponsor took me to my first bid committee meeting for Cincinnati, Ohio ICYPAA. I didn't understand the enthusiasm or why people were getting so stressed about fulfilling the suggested requirements to bring the ICYPAA Conference to Ohio. But Kathy said to me, "Whatever you can do to get to ICYPAA, just get there! It's the biggest party of young people in AA and it's a blast!" I realized I had to go. I had two days vacation at my job; I asked for them, and was allowed off work to go to the conference. I roomed with three people I barely knew and they were all miserable, but I was on cloud nine and could not be defeated. I was intoxicated spiritually. There were so many young people sober, having a joyful time, and I was one of them.

At the bid session, the ICYPAA Advisory Council, the group of AAs who decide what city the conference will go to next, asked our group to sing the WKRP in Cincinnati song, from the TV show of that name. That year, Denver, Colorado won the bid. The Denver bid committee had a new idea that the Advisory Council liked. My bid committee, the Cincinnati group, sat disappointed in what is often jokingly called at young people's conferences "the crying session," or "suicide watch." Afterwards, ICYPAA's Advisory Council met with the bidding cities' committees and gave feedback and encouraged bidders to come back the following year. I knew at that time that I was going to return home to join the next Cincinnati bid committee, and that is exactly what I did.

By becoming involved with a bid committee, I learned about service, found out what a service manual was and how meetings were conducted. I made and kept commitments. I had fun as never before. I eventually worked the Steps again. The first time, I had conveniently forgotten to include quite a few things on my Fourth Step and hadn't really read the Big Book.

I managed to get caught up in life and stepped out of young people's AA activities for a period of time, but continued in AA. I held positions in my home group and worked with newcomers. As life would have it, at seven years sober I came to a crossroads and found myself seeking involvement in young people's AA again. I had missed the joy and enthusiasm that I once had in AA and in life. I had recently moved to Florida and found out that Florida had a bid committee when I attended the 44th ICYPAA Conference. The Florida bid committee (FBC) welcomed me and helped me through a very rough period in my life. I was extremely vulnerable, and showing up to the FBC for events just to hang and participate was one of the best things that could have happened to me. This crew of my peers was awesome.

The ICYPAA Conference was in Portland, Oregon this year, and the bid session was completely different from any other ICYPAA bid session that I had ever witnessed. Some ICYPAA procedures were changed last year, and became effective this year. With the establishment of a new position, Bid Committee Representative (BCR), each bidding city had a voice in voting where to send the conference the following year. Also, the Advisory Council business meetings, which had been closed in the past, were open to all. To the surprise of some, the meetings went off without a hitch.

In the middle of the bid session, I suddenly realized that I couldn't stay because I had to speak on a panel in the next room. A friend of mine whispered, "Tell 'em you can't talk and that they need to find someone else because you want to be in here." I replied, "I'm on the 'I Am Responsible panel!'" The honor of speaking at ICYPAA versus my desire not to miss the rest of the bid session, and the possible joy of finding out we had won the bid, had me torn. How responsible would I be if I blew off my commitment? It seemed silly, but it was serious. Doing the right thing won out, and I halfheartedly went to the "I Am Responsible" panel. I met some extraordinary people on that panel, enjoyed it greatly, and was glad I'd gone.

I learned later that the bid session had gone by fast and had closed after third legacy procedure without choosing a city. The choice was between New Orleans and Orlando. The names of the respective states would be placed in a hat and one lucky state would be drawn after the speaker meeting that night. The meeting was exciting as always because it begins with the sobriety countdown. The enthusiasm in the room was unlike any previous conference I had attended. After the speaker finished talking, someone shouted, "Where're we goin'?" meaning, where was the conference going? Someone else shouted it again from across the room. Lois, the Advisory Council chairperson, had the hat containing the names of the two states. She yelled "Florida!" I was on my toes and hustled toward the rest of the committee; everyone was jumping, shouting and thanking God. It was mind-blowing!

Working on the bid committee has been an incredible experience. I'm proud to be known as a "bid committee chick," as we're often referred to in ICYPAA. I am ecstatic to have been a part of ICYPAA and honored to be a part of the host committee for its 47th conference, to be held be in Orlando, Florida next year.

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