Camps Pilot notes from the Field: Week 4

Amy Sample Ward's picture

This is the fourth post in a series I'm writing to reporting publicly about the Camps pilot as it develops, sharing questions and ideas each week from the global perspective of planning and creating events. I've having some greation conversations with colleagues like Bonnie Koenig this week that have continued to surface ideas and insights about our work. (If you haven't been following these weekly notes, you can catch them all with the Camps-Notes tag.)

Week 4 Learnings

You can never control the postal service. As part of our support for the local Camp and Campfire events, and to show our enthusiasm (or, rather, extreme excitement) for the pilot to hit the ground, we ordered a few t-shirts with the Camp (or Campfire, as it were) logo for each city.  And then we waited. And waited. And then they arrived! But they arrived at one of our team member's house - so they had to be separated and distributed to the corresponding organizers around the world.  She shipped them straight away (thanks, Claire!). But now the organizers are waiting. And waiting. And unfortunately, the Camp kicking off the pilot (taking place this weekend in Douala, Cameroon) will not get the shirts in time.  The big lesson learned here: leave a month of padding on the mailing timeline.

The calendar can you be your friend and your enemy. When we announced the Camps pilot concept to organizers and asked for those interested to opt-in, it was February.  A pilot taking place in the Summer seemed far away. But, the Summer came quickly and with it lots of other events. We are hearing from organizers that they want to be curteous about scheduling their event far enough away from other events that it doesn't step on toes, or over-run the calendar for the local community.  The events need to happen some time, though.  We're learning how easy it is to keep watching, thinking and plotting - sometimes you just have to put it on the calendar and let the rest fall into place!

Week 4 Questions

What's success, really.  In the Camps Pilot FAQ section, we answer the question of "what's our goal?"  But, this is a pilot: we are hoping to learn as much as possible, test the waters, try something new. Part of learning means listening to organizers: both what their definition of success is and if it was met; as well as our own.  Throughout this process (since last year at N2Y4 Conference actually), we have engaged in an open-ended conversation with our community and with our team about why we want to try this model, what it could mean, and what it would look like to be successful. I'm still having conversations about that topic: "how are we measuring success?"  A couple things I know for sure (and recognize that everyone on the team has more to add to this, as do the organizers and the community at large) include:

  • Is it sustainable? This means a few things: is it something that we can replicate (we aren't dead from the process) and is it something that organizers have an interest in replicating? And, is it something that funders are interested in supporting to grow and develop?
  • Is it different? We aren't in the business of recreating the wheel, so, for these events to sustainable and for these events to be successful, they need to be different from what is already out there. We don't have grand illusions that we are going to launch a pilot for a process of organizing and holding events that is SO different the whole world will pause.  But we do know that the NetSquared global community isn't filled with just anyone; it's filled with changemakers and innovators and people ready to get their hands dirty. So we want to make these events just as special.
  • Does it answer the call? We are doing this because the community called for a new way of organizing offline that still leveraged the value inherent in our Global Conference but recognized the physical restrictions of geography.  For the pilot to be successful, it needs to respond to the call that got it started.

What criteria do you have to measure if our Camps are successful? What criteria have you used for your own pilots?  Would love to hear your ideas :)

Follow the Notes from the Field series for insights, ideas, and conversation about supporting a distributed conference model.

About the NetSquared Camp Pilot

Our vision is for NetSquared Camps to provide a local entry-point for entrepreneurial nonprofits/NGOs, developers and designers to demonstrate projects, build stuff together and forge meaningful collaborations.

Building on the success of self-organizing formats like Barcamp and the lessons we've learned in developing an inter-disciplinary approach to conferencing over the last four years, NetSquared Camps bring people, tools, resources and projects together to help accelerate world-changing ideas.

Learn more and get involved!