Running Code Camps

Running Code Camps

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Some great advice from Dave Noderer:

A week or two ago a few guys wanting to get some ideas about running code camps. It has taken on a life of it's own but here are some notes I made based on running code camps in South Florida. I'll edit and add to this as the discussion progresses.

Organization

  • Very important not to try and do it all yourself, get others involved.
  • Planning is key
  • Start at least a few months out, lining up venue, sponsors
  • Pay attention to basics. Venue, signage, food, directions.

Venue

  • Free is good!
  • Devry universities around the country seem to be open to dev events for no charge.
  • In Florida community colleges charge some fees
  • Best if you can have one large room or auditorium to accommodate everyone and then a bunch of classrooms.
  • Don’t forget plenty of signage the day of the event.

Speakers

  • Local / new speakers (chance to grow the community)
  • MVP / RD
  • MS DE’s can help a lot!
  • We still use a word doc signup

Promotion

  • Pull in all local user groups
  • Promote to your members
  • MSDN Flash
  • Blogs

Sponsors

  • Anti-manifesto but I claim there has never been a code camp without sponsors (Microsoft is a sponsor too!)
  • The cheaper you can do the event, the less you have to worry about this.
  • Recruiters, training companies,  hosting companies and some component vendors will supply money.
  • Don't need a full schedule, just a date to get going. All sponsors want to know an approximate attendance.
  • We don't (no code camp I'm aware of) share the registration list with sponsors.

Volunteers

  • User group members
  • We get students from the university where we have the event
  • Many times spouses are willing to put in a Saturday

Food

  • Pizza is the easiest (3-4 people per pizza)
  • No food is an option but not normal
  • Easy on breakfast, not everyone will show up at 8am

Swag

  • Microsoft (we use as a last resort)
  • Recruiters
  • Component vendors (Infragistics, ComponentONe, Nevron, Ideablade)
  • Magazines (asp.net pro, code, msdn)
  • Publishers (apress, wrox, wiley, sams, etc)
  • Some will give money all will give product.
  • Local companies (training, consulting, large corp)

Website

Resources

  • Local DE’s are very important
  • MVPs and RDs in the area

Evals

  • Can keep it simple, just have blank evals for the speakers to give out and collect for their own use and then have one for the overall event.
  • Don’t get roped into having people spend time manually entering evals afterwards, removes all the fun of code camp!
  • Some have tried online evals after the fact
  • Some use a composite eval with say six sections + a section on the back for the overall conference and use it to give out swag at the end.
  • These are a trade off between easy, response rate and tabulation overhead.

Running Code Camps

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  • Very good list and link Andrew!

    Code camps are great for starting or building developer communites. I was first exposed to the concept is Florida (Jax) and we had help from the good folks down south.

    Thanks to all for sharing.

    :{> Andy

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