Last updated March 26, 2010.
What is a Drupal camp and what should you get from it?
A camp is a one to two day event that focuses on many aspects of Drupal in one location. Its focus is knowledge sharing amongst the community. Essentially, you’re getting the community together to do some community training. The term "Camp" comes from Barcamp, like an informal non-conference that happens at a bar. It’s not fancy. Camps are basic. They take a bit of organizing, but in general it’s pretty easy to run a camp.
Generally a camp is an extension of a meetup. You'll have a hard time holding an effective camp unless you have a strong meetup already occurring in your town.
Look for donated space. Some options that have worked well:
- Company office that you can take over for the weekend.
Emphasis is: you need one main room that can hold all the people that are expected at the camp plus breakout session rooms.
Generally you’ll want from two to four rooms and have sessions in each. Take the number of participants you expect and divide by twenty and you'll have a good guess at the number of rooms you’ll need.
Sessions and agenda
The topics you choose should reflect the interests of your participants. Possible topics include: theming, module development, Panels, Views.
Often, though, the sessions are selected on the day of, though it helps to have talked to a few people ahead of time to confirm they will be available to present on given topics if wanted. Other times the sessions are selected ahead of time, for example through an online forum where people suggest topics and the organizers line up presenters.
Here's an example from New York.
- We start the camp around 10 AM.
- Between 10 and 11, for one hour, we have 150 people in one room and suggest things that you want to talk about or that you want to present.
- Make a grid with masking tape. Rooms on the left hand side, dates and times on the top. Four rooms, five sessions each per day, makes twenty sessions. Have people write in their sessions and stick them in the grid right on the wall.
- Within one hour, we have all the sessions decided. Not beforehand on a forum or something, but that day. Works great.
- Sessions run from 10 AM to 5 PM. Then from 5 to 8 we head to a bar.
Materials and supplies
At the camp itself, what do you need to bring?
- name tags, pens (unless you’ve printed the name tags)
- masking tape.
- white boards for writing
- If you’re in a location in the world where a lot of people have laptops, wifi is essential
- A projector is useful. This where classrooms come in really handy.
Handing out name tags as people register is good. You might suggest people put an indication of their interest areas. E.g. Views, audio, wiki. Or you could have a list that people put a star next to: themer, developer, consultant. Just some way on the name tag for people to identify what they do so they can connect with other people.
Have a sheet so you can record and keep track of the sessions, who’s doing what, when the food’s coming, who’s going to clean up.
Keep the costs low. This is not fancy. You’re not holding a big conference. If you keep the costs low, you can make the camps sustainable. A sustainable series of camps is much better than one big gala event. Keep the admission free if you can.
Camps are generally free events put on by the community. Participants get in for free. How?
The key is bringing in donations. Donated food. Donated space. Look for these resources in your community.
Feeding the participants really helps. It keeps people together. If they have to go out to a restaurant to buy their own food, they’re going to disperse. They’re going to need to leave for two to three hours. Getting food and bringing it into the location keeps people together and keeps the conversations flowing. Find a sponsor, have them pay for food.
Red Bull, for example, will often donate. You only have to ask.
Easiest way to handle expenses is not to. If you have to pay for a venue, get a sponsor to pay for it directly. If you have a sponsor for food, get them to purchase the food directly. Try not to handle the cash. It will make your life a lot easier. Ditto for buttons and stickers.
BadCamp in San Francisco, camps in New York, a lot in Europe, have been put on for next to nothing.
Post-production and Brand Management
After all the efforts invested in your awesome event, let the world know it. Consider following check list:
- Collected lots of awesome videos & photographs and shared it to the world
- Listened to attendees feedback and written a nice report of the event
- Taken a survey and shared its statistics
- Invited attendees to twit, comment and blog about the event
This way you help people remember about your event and share their experience. Also, many of those who not attended will consider attend next time, because of all the cool stuff that they've lost.