Well, the FIRST-EVER WordCamp Halifax has come and gone on May 27th, 2017 – and what a camp it was! It was the first time a WordCamp has been held east of Montreal, and I was proud to be a lead organizer and help bring this event to our region. It takes months of planning, budgeting, seeking sponsors, finding and booking spaces, and rounding up volunteers all accumulating in a day of education, comradery, and FUN!
A WordCamp is primarily built on people. My co-leads, the volunteers, and our gracious host of speakers all give of their time and energy to make an event like this happen. Along with support from the foundation, any group of people can put one on. WordPress is open-source and non-profit, and WordCamps follow specific guidelines that remain true to these values.
Organizing a WordCamp has been a tremendous learning experience for myself and co-leads Alison Knott, and Tara Andrews. We all share design as a common thread, and taking on the roles of event managers was new to us. Again, with support from the Foundation, and other Camp leaders, we managed to pull it off in the end. I won’t say it was perfect, with a few minor bumps in the road – but with plenty of feedback pouring in, it promises to be even bigger and better next year.
So for me it all began at the Speaker’s Dinner, held the night before Camp at the Red Stag Pub in Halifax. My wife and I attended, and had a chance to gab with and be introduced to all the speakers. I was impressed with the caliber of the crowd, being not only WordPress experts, but also fun, down-to-earth, awesome people. Speakers came from a variety of backgrounds and locations including Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ottawa, Florida, Illinois and Tennessee. Good food was eaten, and good times were had by all.
The actual day of Camp, I donned my red T-shirt, feeling much like a young Star Trek ensign, and headed over the bridge to Halifax, with my motorcycle loaded down with supplies for the adventure. For me, as lead, the actual camp was a blur. I found myself running around all day dealing with minor issues including bringing cords, batteries, setup up tech, dealing with food, happiness bar, and generally filling in where needed. I even led a team charged with the task of tying up balloons to mark the route from the Camp to the after party, just up the road. So in the end, I only had the opportunity to sit in on one session. I know, a different first WordCamp experience, but now I’ve got the bug. You can likely find me speaking in Montreal or Ottawa next year, if not here in Halifax.
The After Party was a hit as well, and once we closed down The Pub, we moved on to the Lion’s Head, another great Halifax Pub on the other side of town. The night ended at the Halifax AleHouse, where a select few carried on the festivities including the infamous Carl Alexander (the real one, not the Carlboard version.) It was a late night, and an early morning for me – being a local and a father, I had a Dance Recital followed by a birthday party at a local pool in town lined up with my 6-year old. Which is why I didn’t stay late at the After-after Party held on at Alison’s folk’s place, set on a beautiful local lake, equipped with firepit, hottub, heated screen room, and dock. (It was amazing there – and remember, I’m local!)
All in all, my first WordCamp experience was amazing. It was a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, but totally worth it. If you’re considering joining up or even starting one in your area, I can tell you, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Until next year, keep on WordPressing away and I’ll see you at Camp!