Running Code Camps
A week or two ago a few guys wanting to get some ideas about running code camps. It has taken on a life of it's own but here are some notes I made based on running code camps in South Florida. I'll edit and add to this as the discussion progresses.
- Very important not to try and do it all yourself, get others involved.
- Planning is key
- Start at least a few months out, lining up venue, sponsors
- Pay attention to basics. Venue, signage, food, directions.
- Free is good!
- Devry universities around the country seem to be open to dev events for no charge.
- In Florida community colleges charge some fees
- Best if you can have one large room or auditorium to accommodate everyone and then a bunch of classrooms.
- Don’t forget plenty of signage the day of the event.
- Local / new speakers (chance to grow the community)
- MVP / RD
- MS DE’s can help a lot!
- We still use a word doc signup
- Pull in all local user groups
- Promote to your members
- MSDN Flash
- Anti-manifesto but I claim there has never been a code camp without sponsors (Microsoft is a sponsor too!)
- The cheaper you can do the event, the less you have to worry about this.
- Recruiters, training companies, hosting companies and some component vendors will supply money.
- Don't need a full schedule, just a date to get going. All sponsors want to know an approximate attendance.
- We don't (no code camp I'm aware of) share the registration list with sponsors.
- User group members
- We get students from the university where we have the event
- Many times spouses are willing to put in a Saturday
- Pizza is the easiest (3-4 people per pizza)
- No food is an option but not normal
- Easy on breakfast, not everyone will show up at 8am
- Microsoft (we use as a last resort)
- Component vendors (Infragistics, ComponentONe, Nevron, Ideablade)
- Magazines (asp.net pro, code, msdn)
- Publishers (apress, wrox, wiley, sams, etc)
- Some will give money all will give product.
- Local companies (training, consulting, large corp)
- We have a beat up site passing from group to group if anyone is interested
- Microsoft group events for registration is enough if you don’t have a web site: https://www.microsoftgroupevents.com/groups/default.aspx
- Lorin Thwaits has published their code camp website on codeplex. It has a bunch of really great / advanced features and may become the standard we all use! http://www.codeplex.com/unconference
- Local DE’s are very important
- MVPs and RDs in the area
- Can keep it simple, just have blank evals for the speakers to give out and collect for their own use and then have one for the overall event.
- Don’t get roped into having people spend time manually entering evals afterwards, removes all the fun of code camp!
- Some have tried online evals after the fact
- Some use a composite eval with say six sections + a section on the back for the overall conference and use it to give out swag at the end.
- These are a trade off between easy, response rate and tabulation overhead.
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