At Midcamp, it’s still about community.
As a non-technical person, attending Drupal events always feels a little daunting. You’d think I’d be used to this by now, given my history of organizing technical events. But there is still the ickyness of imposter syndrome, a small voice saying you don’t really belong among the nerds. What the heck am I doing here? Who am I gonna talk to? What’re we gonna talk about? Is there anything in the schedule for me?
At events like Midcamp, though, all of that changes when I open the conference doors.
Midcamp Group Photo 2018 | Photo credit: Avi Schwab
That feeling of not belonging was immediately drowned in a flowing tide of community. The volunteers at the registration desk greeted me warmly and walked me through the steps of customizing my conference badge with silly and informative stickers (hiring! looking!) or permission-granting lanyards; their colors indicated to others my comfort level having my picture taken.
I am hugged and greeted by friends from all over: smiling Canadians in hockey jerseys who drove all the way from Ontario. University professors from Michigan who brought their CS students to give talks. Folks like me who flew in from Austin, from San Francisco, from Minneapolis. Why do we travel? Because there’s something special about Midcamp.
The organizers (all volunteers) have made Midcamp into something Drupal camp organizers like myself strive to emulate. Each year they’re iterating, improving, and trying new things.
Before accessibility had really taken hold in the Drupal community, Midcamp was already trying out new ideas to make camp life more enjoyable for attendees. Midcamp was one of the first to implement walking lanes, taped lines on the ground that help guide the flow of traffic and make navigating conferences for folks in wheelchairs easier.
They do other simple, thoughtful things, like listing the ingredients on catered food, so attendees can make informed dietary decisions. They host non-drinking social events like Game Night so folks can hang out after hours in somewhere other than a bar and still have fun.
Fun fact: according to my watch on the Lyft home from sprints yesterday, I walked just over 35 miles during #midcamp— Kevin Thull (@kevinjthull) March 12, 2018
Besides all the warm community and the great sessions, I go to Midcamp every year to gather ideas for Texas Camp.
I attended the Midcamp Sprints on Sunday. Sprints, that’s for developers, right? I couldn't help but wonder what I was going to work on. The first person, a developer, who saw me with my laptop open asked me that. I replied, feeling more than a little self-conscious, “I’m working on Texas Camp.”
They grinned and said, “That’s awesome, how can I help?” Soon, another person asked what we were working on, and they too joined in. There we were, working through problems and sharing ideas. On a Drupal thing. A Drupal thing that wasn’t code. I was doing it. We were doing it. We were sprinting! I left that day with renewed energy for my little camp.
It’s things like this, seemingly simple things, that go so far. That makes people feel welcome and included. Things like this that will keep me coming back, and keep me paying it forward to others in the community. Because at Midcamp, it’s still about the community.
Didn’t get to attend Midcamp? Never fear! They record each and every session and post them publicly on YouTube. You can view playlists dating all the way back to 2014. This year, over the course of three days, their session recorder, Kevin, captured 41 sessions and logged 35 miles from running back and forth between session rooms. You can view my session online, too!
If you’re interested in learning what goes on behind are the scenes at a camp, some of the top camp organizers in the country will be sharing their insider’s knowledge at Community Convos: Camp Organizing at DrupalCon Nashville. See you there!