Camps Pilot notes from the Field: Week 5

Amy Sample Ward's picture

Last week was the 5th week in the Camps pilot (based on our 8-week planning process).  The Camps planning really began back in February though when participating organizers came on board and the groundwork for this summer's events was put in place.  Last weekend was also the first Camp event, taking place in Douala, Cameroon! As I've been doing over the last 4 weeks, I want to sharesome notes and questions that arose from our side of the planning process and hope you'll share, too! (If you haven't been following these weekly notes, you can catch them all with the Camps-Notes tag.)

Week 5 Learnings

Pacing is critical. We are a small team (just three of us) supporting the Camps pilot and the participating organizers. Some of the support we offer comes in the form of resources and documents prepared prior to the launch, while other support takes the shape of weekly phone calls and customized resources per the local needs. As we sail in to week 6, I'm trying to remember that pacing is critical to reaching our goal. Burn out is a real threat to a small team working hard on a new program and I know that we want to ensure all our organizers and events are successful.  So, deep breaths, team!

There's always one more... I've noted in a previous post that we did a great deal of work ahead of the pilot launch to prepare resources, examples and various supporting documents so that participating organizers could jump right in planning their local Camp.  Yet, despite all the preparation we did, there was bound to be items we forgot and things we couldn't have thought up until we were really doing it. Well, this last week I've learned that there's always one more thing to do, one more thing to write, one more thing to think about. In a good way! The creation and compliation of all the documents and resources that make up the "how to make a Camp" will continue even after the events take place; same with the storytelling and the reporting and the learning. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at it all or even feeling like we should have thought of something earlier, I'm actually feeling quite inspired that we are building something really valuable.

Week 5 Questions

What's the role of a time-based planning schedule when time is fluid?  According to when we publicly launched the Camps pilot, week 5 is a wrap. But really, as I said above, we started working with the participating organizers back in February. Douala, Cameroon, hosted the first Camp event on May 29th (while more events are taking place in June and August).  So, it is week 5; but it is also not, at all.  What's the role of our 8-week planning guide if we aren't on an 8-week schedule? How can we ensure that organizers are pacing themselves both against burn-out but also towards success when their planning periods are varied?  How do we help keep organizers on the mark without creating an undue workload for ourselves tracking and planning?

How do we report in a way that invites continued learning? Last week, I shared some thoughts in my weekly notes post about ways to measure success. The 29th was the first Camps event. There's more events lined up for this month and time to start sharing evaluations and reporting on the blog that isn't limited to reflective ponderings from the NetSquared team!  So, how do we report on the pilot in a way that invites continued learning from our team, our organizers, events participants, and the larger NetSquared community? Our normal approach is to put things on the blog where we can have conversations with the comments, links can be shared, and so on. Is that the best approach? Are there other places you'd recommend for sharing and learning?

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!