Baltimore's First Annual Drupal Camp is off and running
Baltimore Drupal Camp, the first Drupal camp sponsored by Simple Information and Baltimore's first Drupal camp met all of it's goals, and attracted over a hundred attendees, double of what was expected. Many Simple Information team members were part of the organizing committee along with several other Drupal focused companies around the area. Discussions for the camp began at Bertha's Mussels at the local Baltimore Drupal meet-ups. Its here the idea for a Drupal Camp in Baltimore itself was hatched. We felt that Drupal had gained enough popularity and notoriety in the area that Baltimore could support its own camp. This was a wonderful way to get all those great minds together and teach others something new.
How it Began!
Discussions were started in 2013 and quickly coalesced into an exciting venture for us Baltimore locals. Ideas were thrown around and we used Google Sheets to help plan and organize our responsibilities. We had a large brainstorming session over what we wanted to do with our first ever camp. Decisions had to be made quickly, which venue, how to get sponsors, and how to publicize the camp. Once everyone knew what to do, the event came together quickly. While we had great ambitions, we also had to remain realistic expectations and had to make sure this event would be affordable, educational, and enjoyable for everyone involved. This required some careful thinking, but in the end we were very pleased with our results!
Planning. Planning. Planning.
We choose the University of Baltimore as a venue because it offered an auditorium and classrooms and was easily accessed by car, train, bus, or bicycle. We debated serving breakfast and lunch at the camp, but due to the location of the University of Baltimore there were plenty of local food options for attendees to choose from. We also needed to think about the variety of posters, signs, and other items for the camp. We had various volunteers identify our options and we picked those which fit our plan the best. While we assembled our supplies we also had been hard at work establishing the specifics of the camp; such as the sponsors and the speakers.
To accelerate the growth of our community, we decided to target business people and those new to Drupal. Our hope was to attract a whole new crowd of people to Drupal. Part of this strategy was offer a beginner's level training course on Drupal. While we would still have the traditional speakers and sessions going on simultaneously, this beginner's course would be a way to introduce Drupal to a wider audience.
Asking for money is difficult; luckily Drupal is all about giving back to the community so we were fortunate enough to find companies all across America that shared our vision and were willing to help the Baltimore Drupal Camp kick off its first year. I want to make mention of our wonderful sponsors once more. A big thank you to : Unleashed Technologies, Blink Reaction, Light Sky, Sapient, Unallocated, Aquilent, ETC, Canton Group, Skyline, Last Call Media, Snake Hill for sponsoring and making the first annual Baltimore Drupal Camp happen.
A camp without a keynote or sessions is not much of a camp. We put out the word through both personal connections and posts on drupal.org, calling for veteran drupalistas to come out and help teach each other something new. The response was an overwhelming amount of entries. Asher Epstein accepted our offer to be the key note speaker and presented an amazing story about the future of our "Personal Digital Fingerprints." To give the camp some direction, the organizing committee decided to feature three distinct tracks for the camp. Each session had related topics allowing attendees to follow one track if that was their focus or to vary the sessions they attended if they had specific wants and needs.
The event itself
The day of the event was finally here. Our dedicated volunteer staff arrived at the venue at 7 am and promptly began preparing for the influx of visitors, setting up the coffee and donuts, hanging signs, and helping sponsors set up their tables. As people began to trickle in, our staff signed in each person and helped direct them to their destinations.
All of our experience attending other camps paid off: Registration went unbelievably smooth, everyone knew what room they needed and how to get there, WiFi was easy to access, sponsors got to interact with attendess, and all of the sessions were full, some with standing room only. After it was all said and done, it was time for happy hour and to unwind after a long day of learning.
Please check out the camp pictures at bmoredrupal.org.
Following the camp we reviewed lessons learned and he's what we found:
- Ran out of T-shirts. We ran short for 5 attendees. They were sent a T-shirt after the camp.
- Students at the training were confused because the instructor changed too often.
- Ticket sales ended the day before the event so some were unable to register at the day of the event, whoops!
- Baltmore Camp 2016
- Baltimore Camp for 2016 will happen on October 07, 2016. Get your tickets or submit a session now: bmoredrupal.org
A summary of the Solution:
- Teamwork - Pulled the community together to hold a successful event.
- Drupal - Used extensively to manage the event.
- Sponsors - Work with each one to make sure thier needs were met.
- Sessions - Opened the world of Drupal to new comers and advanced users alike.
- Venue - was perfect for the event, and we will use the same venue for the next camp. Thanks U of B!