I've almost recuperated from last weekend's Ann Arbor Give Camp. Almost…
For the second year in a row, Ann Arbor Give Camp was a huge success! It was a massively rewarding experience to help plan last years Give Camp as well as participate in one of the teams (we wrote a WinForms app for Angels' Place to keep track of their membership list). This year, I decided to help with planning and then assist throughout the weekend in the execution of the event. Last year, I was "in" the circle of developers and non-profits, staying up late and feverishly writing code. I was so focused on my charity, I didn't get much of a chance to see what was going on "outside" my group.
This year, I was on the perimeter. I saw all of the groups working with their non-profits to create a solution. I watched Mike Eaton juggle developers and re-distribute teams so we could provide a balanced team for each charity. I saw Lori and Todd Bohlen keep the break room stocked with enough caffeine and sugar to launch a small satellite into orbit. While Verio's Matt LaGrotte wasn't practicing his Flarp technique, he was setting up domains and websites for some of the charities (oh yeah, the web hosting is FREE for 6 months – thanks Verio!). Microsoft's Jennifer Marsman and Josh Holmes were busy keeping things running smoothly and making sure no one got blocked on any issues (frequent stand-ups helped!). Josh even brought his pop-up camper as an alternative to sleeping on a classroom floor or an air bed. Finally, we had Greg Campeau fiddling with the printer and name tags while Mike Eaton's nephew helped during registration.
I took lots of pictures! I shot video. Josh shot video. I gathered it all into a short "retrospective" video. I tried to capture just a small glimpse into the fun, exhausting, exhilarating and dynamic nature of a Give Camp:
To say we had "great" co-operation from Washtenaw Community College would be an insult. It was phenomenal! Not only did WCC provide outstanding facilities like last year, we even had showers this year – and we didn't even ask for them! Neil Gudsen of WCC made sure the college wasn't using the showers this weekend, got the proper approvals and signatures and simply dropped me an email the day before the event saying "Please let everyone know that showers will be available". WOW! Thanks Neil, thanks WCC! We've already got huge plans for next year's Give Camp and WCC is already putting even more stuff on the table. It's too early to go public with it now, but it'll be fantastic!
Planning a Give Camp is a huge amount of work, but when you see the reactions of the charities on Sunday night as they show off the apps and websites they're taking home, it's totally worth it. If you get a chance, please participate in a Give Camp. It's a great experience and will help you grow as a developer and allows you to give back to your local community. WIN-WIN!
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