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!