Camps Pilot notes from the Field: Week 8

Amy Sample Ward's picture

Last week saw events in Portland, Paris and North Carolina: the Camps Pilot is 4 events down, 2 to go!  The original plan with these Notes from the Field was to share emerging questions and lessons on the blog in real time over the 8 weeks of event planning alongside the organizers. But, as there are still two more events to happen and much more evaluation and thinking about the pilot, I'm sure this will not be the end of the posts!  (If you haven't been following these weekly notes, you can catch them all with the Camps-Notes tag.)

Week 8 Learnings

Evalutations require a local touch. Just as the content and structure of the individual Camp events changes from event to event to be as relevant and valuable to the local community as possible, so do the evaluations. We created two evaluations, one for learning about the Camps program and the other to help surface content and stories from the events to share back with the public. But, it's been a challenge to create the "reporting" evaluation in a way that works for everyone (so we aren't creating new documents for every event) that is also flexible enough to work for events with very different content, presentations, and media. Have you ever created evaluations like this? We'd love to hear how you do it!

Some tools don't work; that's okay. As part of our support for local organizers in the Pilot, we have tried out a few tools including an online forum where organizers could ask/respond to questions and ideas. I seeded the forum with the FAQs and other high-level topic areas from the planning resources. Some organizers responded to a post to two when it was first introduced but it certainly did not prove to be a valuable resource that organizers needed.  Why? Well, for one, we have weekly phone calls with organizers (one on one) so there was already plenty of time for questions/answers and brainstorming. Having the Planning Guide and accompanying resources probably added to the forum being unneccessary.  We are totally fine with getting rid of the forum, or any other tool that isn't working - happy to take note and focus energy elsewhere!

Week 8 Questions

What's next?  We knew this question would come once we got to the actual events. And even knowing it was coming didn't help us any more than knowing the answer, because the answer is a question! What next? Well, what do you want next? The Camps pilot was a community-driven concept; through lots of listening and brainstorming with the community we were able to develop and support a program that redistributed our conference and gave the convening power to local organizers. So, now that events have happened in 4 places, communities have gathered and worked together for a day, what do they want next? And how can we support making that happen? These are the conversations that we will begin having now as we evaluate the pilot and work to improve the Camps model into part of the NetSquared programming. Let us know your thgouths!

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!