Wednesday, September 16, 2009

VT Code Camp 1: Summary

It's been nice to read some of the posts people have made about the VT code camp. The ones I've seen are by Bradley Holt, Chris Bowen, Dave Burke and Jim O'Neil. But I thought I would post my own summary of the first VT code camp.

First, I want to reiterate my appreciation to the many donors, speakers and volunteers who made the event the wild success that it was. You folks rock!

Code camp setup began around 7:30AM. This was only my second time at Kalkin Hall and was just as impressed with this location as I was when I had seen it the day before. It is just a wonderful space that suited our event to a "T." Again, many thanks to the UVM School of Business Administration for opening their doors to us. The setup team included Margot Schips, Julie Lerman, Laura Blood, Carl Lorenston, Bradley Holt and Dan Russell. (If I'm forgetting someone I apologize. Things were moved so fast and furious during the day I neglected to stop and take notes to do this properly.)

We got our only crisis out of the way early on Saturday when at around 7:35AM when we found out one of the rooms we were told we would be using turned out to be hosting a different all day event. After some frantic calls made by Margot we got it straightened out and were able to use an alternate room which worked just as well.

After that it was smooth sailing. We had a marvelous breakfast spread provided by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Lots of coffee, lots of pastries, lots of bagels and even lots of fruit. It was all yummy (and I speak from experience... lots of experience).

In typical VT style we began the welcoming remarks a few minutes behind schedule (what? you got someplace to be?). After thanking the donors, orienting everyone to the space and reviewing the day's schedule we turned our attendees loose. Plenty of positive energy and familiar faces.

The first two time slots went off without any projectors exploding (although it took a little bit to figure one of them out). Laura Blood was super-generous with her time and watched the registration desk. After that we broke for a lunch provided by MyWebGrocer. Lots of pizza and soda. Filled me right up. By this point my schedule started to even out. We had the swag organized, the registrations had started to die down and Julie and I had done the pizza run (complete with expert parking job). So I made the most of it and enjoyed the lunch break. It was great to spend a few minutes chatting with folks I knew and meeting folks I hadn't - plus the surreal experience of meeting in person folks I only knew from online.

After lunch we dove back into session. We moved the registration desk downstairs where it was manned by Dave Burke. Dave's one of the first people I met when I started to attend the .NET user groups and I always enjoy talking with him. Plus, when he adjusted my name tag for me it was the most action I had had all day.

Soon it was time for another snack break - this time courtesy of Microsoft. Sodas, brownies, and other tasty treats. Noshing and networking... good times.

We held the raffle during the last break. We gathered in one of the session rooms and used a random number generator to identify the winners. Julie also took a moment to extend a special thank you to Steve Andrews and Alison Gianotto who were the two speakers who travelled the farthest. After all the support our donors provided we ended up with nearly 30 prizes to give away - so we ran a little longer than expected. The final sessions started a little late, but everyone was still going strong. We volunteers set about cleaning up during the last session so we could get an early exit to a social gathering at the Windjammer. Special thanks to Chris Bowen and Microsoft for treating the speakers and volunteers so kindly.

I could keep writing about all the people I met and reconnected with. I might even do a post about the lessons learned that I hope to apply to the next code camp (yes, we intend to do this again). The whole experience was exciting, maddening and gratifying. I'll keep searching for posts, tweets and pictures tagged with VTCODECAMP to see what people thought. I hope you do, too. And join us at the next VT Code Camp!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Twas the night before code camp...

No more messing around - tomorrow is the first VT code camp. We've got everything as done as we can at this point. Excellent speakers/sessions lined up, a kickin' venue, a good team of volunteers and lots-o-swag. We've got over 100 people who have registered to attend, which far exceeds my expectations. I think I'm probably on the record somewhere stating that for our first code camp 50-70 would be a great turn out but talk of 100 was fantasy.

Looks like I was wrong. Happily, happily wrong.

Seriously, for this event to have that many people register is a huge testament to the development community in VT and the northeast in general (we've got participation from as far away as PA and NYC).

I'm super pleased with the support we've received from our donors, too. The UVM School of Business Administration has opened their doors to us for the venue. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is covering breakfast, MyWebGrocer (my employer) is buying pizza and soda for lunch and Microsoft is providing an afternoon snack.

Chris Pels and the site helped us by managing our registration and speaker abstract submissions which was HUGE.

We've a pile of swag to raffle and give away, too. Donors are:
It takes a lot of people to get an event like this off the ground and we have a great team. Super big thanks go to Bradley Holt, Carl Lorentson, Julie Lerman, Laura Blood, Margot Schips, Martin Stevanof, Matthew Weier O’Phinney and Rob Rohr who did a lot of heavy lifting to get us poised for a successful event tomorrow.

I also got some wonderful advice about organizing a code camp from Chris Bowen and Jim O'Neil our regional Microsoft development evangelists and also from Dennis Perlot and Supriyo "SB" Chatterje from the CT code camp. These four guys provided some good input and are all class acts.

Finally, I wouldn't even be able to be involved in this kind of community development if it weren't for my wife, Sue, who will be taking care of the kids while I'm at the code camp. So she gets a thank you, too.

So that's it. Everything is printed, the alarm is set and I'm really very, very excited to see how we do.