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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

South Carolina Code Camp 2.0, that is.

That's right, we're done. Finished. The End. Turn out the lights, the party's over. Goodnight. Seeya. Bye.

The South Carolina Code Camp 2.0 kicked off on Friday, September 15th with an excellent dinner at The Olympian Restaurant for all the speakers and volunteers. This meal was provided by Magenic Technologies and was our way of saying thanks for all the hard work our speakers had done so far and our volunteers were about to do. We hung out for a couple hours there and then moved the gathering over to Reality Check for some coffee and generally geeky hanging out time.

Saturday morning, bright and early (6:55 am) we kicked in the doors to the Buck Mickel Center at Greenville Tech and got the breakfast (provided courtesy of Wintellect) set up and let the sign-in process begin.

The Podcast Studio guys were there bright and early as well and interviewed a plethora* of interesting people throughout the day.

After our opening notes (which consisted mostly of me and Doug Turnure trying to give each other all the credit and asking people to be nice guests and not trash the place) we kicked things off with a giveaway and started the sessions.

The first 12 sessions (4 tracks, 3 sessions each) went by all too quickly and the caterer showed up just in time to feed the mob of starving code campers. Saturday's lunch consisted of a yummy sandwich (turkey, ham or veggie), bag of chips, cookie and soda. A BIG thanks to Microsoft and Dunn Training (of Atlanta) who know exactly how expensive it is to feed 194 starving registrants lunch for two days. (Actual attendance was lower than the registration numbers, but you have to plan ahead for these things.) Any leftover food was donated to a local boys home. (Not THIS local boy, an actual charity, thank you very much.) A local "boys home" not a "local boy's home", ok?

With everyone's bellies nice and full, we turned down the AC a few degrees and resumed the learning. We had a couple of minor technical glitches along the way, including a scary near miss with a projector, kinetic energy and a little thing called gravity, but the day was definitely a success.

We ended the day with some closing comments and giveaways. (More on that below...) Then we REALLY ended the day with a trip to Dougal McGuire's Pub. A few beers, some EXCELLENT food and about 10 games of pool later I was ready to call it a night.

We ended up back at Reality Check somehow and chilled there for a bit before heading home. I was pretty much in zombie mode by then so I don't really remember much other than falling asleep at one of the tables in the shop for a bit and trying some cold Yerba Mate which was pretty damn tasty. (Tried it hot too, but didn't care for that so much.)

After nowhere near enough sleep, I crawled out of bed and shambled forth to Day 2 of Code Camp. It wasn't quite as early (thankfully) and we had a great breakfast again (graciously provided by the Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson Technology Council. After a few quick notes we kicked off the next set of sessions. Lunch was Dominos Pizza. Lots and lots of Dominos Pizza, provided again by Microsoft and Dunn Training. Fortunately we estimated just about perfectly and had very little pizza left over.

Sunday was a shorter day and we finished up not too long after lunch. Once all the evals were done and the swag was handed out (more on that below...), we cleaned up and headed home. Our final announcement of the day was that South Carolina Code Camp 3.0 would be in 1 year and back in Charleston, SC. (Since we're only going to do one BIG (more on that below too...) code camp per year, it's only fair to alternate which end of the state to have it in. In 2007 it's Charleston's turn.

Ok, so that's it in a general sense. Here are a few specifics:

Volunteers who actually showed up: 8 (100%)
Volunteers who were snotty to me until they realized I was in charge (I don't wear nametags): 50%
Volunteers who really kicked ass: 3
Volunteers whose ass I wanted to kick: 2
Recruiters who actually asked permission before showing up: 1

Speaker no-shows (as in no email, no call, no show): 1
Speakers who committed to multiple days but then bailed on day 2 without telling anyone: 1
Speaker/Session cancellations: 15 (some last minute, some not)

Donuts: 168, Gallons of Coffee: 16, Large Pizzas: 35, Boxed Lunches: 150
Also add in a whole lot of sodas, muffins and danishes... I have no idea how many.

People who complained about the free food: 1
People who made a rude comment about my tattoos: 1
People who ordered the most expensive item on the menu: 1
(If you're guessing all 3 of the above, and one of the below, were the same person, you'd be right.)
People who complained about the rooms being too cold: 7
People who complained about a lack of wifi: 5 (technically 11 if you count the podcast guys, but they actually needed it and didn't really complain at all.)

Encore (overflow) sessions held: 5
Most popular track (Saturday): WEB
Most popular track (Sunday): DATA
Most popular session/speaker (BY FAR...): Design Patterns by John Alexander
Most dissapointing cancellation: Robotics

On swag... We received over $15,000 worth of swag for this code camp. We gave away ALL of it. Every shirt, book, piece of software, hardware, squeaky toy, man-purse (tote) and sticker. ALL OF IT. I even donated a few items out of my personal collection that hadn't been read.

Once each day, I was completely caught off guard by someone who turned down the FREE random FREE (did I mention it was FREE?!?) swag they received and asked for something better. Uh-huh. I was caught off guard not once, but twice. The concept of doing something like that is so inconceivable and foreign to me, I honestly didn't know how to respond. EVEN WHEN IT HAPPENED THE SECOND TIME...

Looking back, I know I handled it wrong. I let them get away with it. I stuck their names back in the box and drew another name for the swag they rejected. In my head, I figured "there's a gazillion names in here, what are the odds I'll draw them again??" So of course, when the better swag came up, I drew them again. Un-be-lievable. I can't believe it happened, and honestly I can't believe I let it happen. I feel like I owe everyone in that room an apology. So here it is: Hey folks, I'm sorry. It was handled poorly and won't ever happen again. Next time it happens, I won't be caught off guard. I'll just give them a firm "take it or leave it, but that's it" and move on to the next drawing. I really feel like I blew it on that one.

About Wi-Fi. There was none. This was not an option to us. The facility didnt have it. Quite frankly, I'm glad. If we'd had it, there would have been WAY too many folks checking their email and chatting with their friends in the middle of sessions and that's just damn rude.

Lastly, on BIG Code Camps. This one kicked my ass. South Carolina really doesn't need more than one (this size) per year. Seriously. The next one is in Charleston, SC and I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm also glad it's a year away. Please note I said BIG Code Camps. We're planning on doing something different in the interim... Little Code Camps. (We won't actually be calling them that, btw.)

The plan is to offer a bimonthly or quarterly workshop/mini-conference/day of foo on a single topic, for one day (on a Saturday.) We're talking 4 sessions, bring your own lunch and prepare for a deep dive into a single , specific subject.

For Example: A lot of people have been asking about patterns, so we want to do a Day of Patterns. Start with a entry-level 100 type session, followed by something a little more advanced. Take a break for lunch, feel free to go out or bring your own, come back and dig in a little deeper, and then finally the fourth session will be even deeper still.

A couple months after patterns, we'll do something else like Sharepoint, or CSLA, or Game Development or WHATEVER PEOPLE WANT!

We don't expect (nor do we want) these to be huge affairs. We're talking 15-20 people, one room, interactive (not lecture) format. Still FREE. Always FREE. There won't be swag or free food... just a chance for people who are really serious about the topic to get together with people who are really serious about learning the topic. A meeting of the minds... exchange of knowledge... helping people get it and knowing exactly when that moment strikes.

So we'll keep doing these, throughout the year, until the next big code camp rolls around in September 2007... but for now, I sleep. Posted on Sunday, September 17, 2006 5:21 PM | Back to top



Comments on this post: It's over...

# re: It's over...
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Just wanted to give you a shout-out on the camp, boss. Excellent job as always. Thank you for the honour and privledge of speaking and interacting with such a great group of people. See you next year, wot? Well, probably before than, but you know what I mean.
Left by Theo Moore on Sep 17, 2006 6:14 PM

# re: It's over...
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Kudos, Chris. Thanks for a heading things up. It doesn't take much to "wish" there was a Code Camp, but it takes someone with vision and initiative to actually take the ball and run with it. Great job to you, Denise, Paul, and the countless other great people that made it happen!

--jason
Left by Jason S. Burton on Sep 17, 2006 7:16 PM

# re: It's over...
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Chris, you put on a good show I am glad I made the trip.
Left by Sean on Sep 18, 2006 12:21 PM

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