Meanwhile, back at the ranch: planning Texas Camp 2017

Looking back on Texas Camp 2017, what it took to get us here, who attended, and how a great group of people made the event a success. 

When we started planning Texas Camp 2017 is was important to us to keep the event about Texas, so I built a team of folks from Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and College Station (they keep telling me this is a real place) who worked for Drupal agencies, hosting providers, universities, and who freelanced. It was important the planning team represented the spectrum of the Drupal ecosystem in Texas.

  • Stephanie El-Hajj, Amazee Labs
  • Caryn Eaton, Kanopi Studios
  • David Porter, Rackspace
  • Brandon Williams, Amazee Labs
  • Andrew McClintock, Amazee Labs  
  • Kendall Westbrook, LevelTen Interactive
  • Lucy Weinmeister, Four Kitchens
  • Charles Leverington, University of Texas at Austin

Our goal this year was to hit 200 attendees, doubling our attendance from 2016. It was a lofty goal, but we hedged our bets that with a new popular destination city, improved marketing and outreach, and a streamlined shiny new website, we could make it happen.

Growing the camp was important for a number of reasons, the first, and to me most important, was to prove that there is a community in Texas big enough to make this effort worthwhile. Camps are great, but only if people go.

If our numbers are any indication, there's a strong Drupal community here, hungry for community and more Drupal. 

Texas Camp 2017 Group Photo
Texas Camp 2017 Group Photo courtesy Kendall Westbrook 

We had no idea who would attend when we started, but now we do. Here's a breakdown of our attendees: 

Attendee location chart
We came (mostly) from Austin, Texas. 
What we do chart
We are (mostly) developers.
Where we work
We work (mostly) for Drupal agencies. 

We had a full program

36 sessions, 4 trainings, 3 days of contribution sprints, and one awesome after party.

Session breakdown
We had (mostly) Coding and Development sessions.
Speaker breakdown
We had a pretty similar split of speakers. 

We recorded sessions

It was important to us that all sessions were captured, so we brought in Kevin Thull who helps organize Midcamp in Chicago to do our session recording. If your camp is able to afford it (and it’s pretty reasonable, considering the value), it’s incredibly beneficial. Speakers can use the video link as a portfolio piece when submitting sessions to DrupalCon or other camps, attendees can view view videos for sessions they weren’t able to attend, and non-attendees who wanted to come but couldn’t make it get to watch these sessions and get that same information for free, from the comfort of their own home.

Session recording also helps memorialize an event that only lasts three days, to help it live on and help build momentum for future years. All our effort doesn’t go up in a puff of smoke, it lives on YouTube forever. View the Texas Camp 2017 session playlist.

When it was over, we did a Retrospective

It’s so important to do a retrospective as soon as possible so everything is fresh. We even went one further by creating and sharing the Retrospective GoogleDoc before the camp, so people could document things that happened at camp in real time. This helped us capture things like “Run power to the Registration table” and “Print extra parking passes since no one reads the emails”.

When we finally did our team Retrospective, I made sure to include information such as how we did financially, final check-in and ticket sales, session stats, and attendee statistics. From there, we ran our Retrospective like we would at any Amazee Retrospective, we tackled What went well, What went less well, and Better for next time.

All Texas Camp planning was done and documented in GoogleDrive specifically so it is easily available to camp organizers. If you’re interested in seeing how these tacos were made, ping me for access. I’m also happy to hop on a call and go through it, so you’re not facing a jungle of files and notes alone. Trust me, I’d love to nerd out on this.

Join the planning team!

If frequent meetings and performing tasks you’re unfamiliar with sound appealing to you, and you’re wanting to help plan 2018, ping me! We have a strong organizing team returning for 2018, but we’re looking for a few good folks from Texas to help keep our ideas fresh.

Y'all take care now!

July 6, 2017
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