Camp Organizers BoF at MidCamp 2015

MidCamp Camp Organizers sign

On March 21, 2015, there was a fairly well-attended Camp Organizers BoF at MidCamp in Chicago. I took notes during the BoF and am simply publishing them here for the benefit of camp organizers in the Drupal Community. They're fairly raw, but hopefully they'll be helpful for you!

Camps Represented

  • DrupalCorn (Iowa)
  • MidCamp (Chicago)
  • RADCamp (potential future camp)
  • BADCamp (San Fransisco)
  • DrupalCamp STL (St. Louis)
  • DrupalNorth (Toronto)
  • DrupalCamp Costa Rica - July 29-31


  • Add your camp dates to:
    • Bot in #drupalcamp IRC channel
    • Drupical
  • Pooling resources for things like signage, printed booklets, etc.
  • Video recording equipment at MidCamp is in 3rd revision; next step is to make things 'less unweildy'
  • Pre-communication: especially with speakers
  • Have some people who don't have particular responsibilities (mainly), but just 'do things that need to be done'
    • Some camps have 'runners' (this role, day of and/or before hand)
  • Camp doesn't run itself—but if you can put together a good team, you can make amazing things happen.
  • Best part of this BoF / sharing in camps: cross-pollination for ideas, layout, etc.
  • Bluespark + RedHat thinking about starting a 'RADCamp' :)
  • WiFi: Made sure there were additional access points here, helped give bandwidth/reliable connectivity
  • Some things work great at one camp, disastrous at another (e.g. video recording at Fox Valley vs. BADCamp vs. MidCamp)
  • Good to get a list together of 'things you could do at a DrupalCamp' (e.g. board game night)
  • Resource guide like Rails Girls
    • A kit of information for DrupalCamps
    • Documentation is on GitHub; allow improvements/contributions via GitHub PRs
  • Date selection:
    • Not just a North American problem; in Europe, camp dates run into each other pretty frequently as well.
    • Mailing list: not necessarily the most effective way to organize dates; needs to have low signal/noise ratio.
    • Drupical, coordinate in #drupalcamp, etc. (not much consensus here)

Current resources

Video recording

  • Need sets of video recording equipment for session recording
  • Working on getting equipment into small/neat 'packages', and have them transportable in a pelican case or something
  • MidCamp PVR kit
    • About 3 lbs, costs about $425
    • Currently in 'beta 3' (Fox Valley, BADCamp, MidCamp)
    • Uses HDMI, requires some dongles for VGA and other formats
    • Records audio, but also has a backup Zoom voice recorder
    • Doesn't work great with older PC laptops
    • Goal is for DA and/or Camps to ship around the equipment
    • More information: Blue Drop Shop
  • Pain points:
    • Training the speakers (make sure they do things in the right order)
    • Packaging the parts so they're simpler to set up and use


  • DrupalCon moving around all the time upsets all the DrupalCamp apple carts!
  • Drupal Association should hopefully be able to help coordinate dates a little better.


  • MidCamp had a few unique accessibility features, e.g. blue tape lines throughout venue for accessible paths, pre-camp online walkthrough
  • Pre-walkthrough:
    • Included pictures for how to get through the actual venue
    • Give plenty of detail/guides/signage for physical location
    • Go around the venue, take lots of pictures, make sure you take lots of notes
  • Wanted to do three more things:
    1. Pay for a 'sprint room' so we have one every day that we do sprints
    2. Pay for captioning of talks while they're happening
    3. Pay for ASL for talks while they're happening
  • ASL Interpreter / Closed Captioning
    • about $125/hour per interpreter... but if it's more than 1 hour, 2 required
    • 2 hour minimum
    • Another idea: Skype the sessions to a remote transcriber, and that captioning can come back in real time to the screen
    • Issues:
      • Might need a second screen, and video post-production gets more complicated
      • Need a low-latency connection to get a skype-based transcription service working

Volunteers / Organizers

  • MidCamp
    • 10 regular volunteers
    • 6 people who came and went
    • Question: How many organizers do you need, how much committment do you need?
    • Some people came in and did small things, then stopped (e.g. putting tape on the floor). That's fine!
  • Need to help people figure out how many organizers / volunteers are needed.
  • Session on recruiting and retaining dedicated volunteers

Session selection

  • MidCamp had anonymous session selection.
    • Problems:
      • Quality: One group said sessions could have presenters who are terrible, making for terrible camp
      • Homogeneity: Worry that entire group of speakers would be a bunch of white guys (not very diverse).
    • Answers:
      • Quality:
        • Past performance doesn't necessarily indicate future success
        • "Take really good care of the presenters"
        • Send out reminders for speakers, help train them, improve them, etc.
        • Communication to the speakers was amazing; lots of great feedback
      • Homogeneity:
        • We have unconscious biases when we know about things. Anonymous selection helps mitigate this.
        • Non-anonymous solicitation helps with this (intentionally email/solicit a more diverse group)
        • MidCamp has about 20% female speakers.
    • Solicitations:
      • YesCT had a huge list of topics that were good at camps; seeded the list to dozens of people via Twitter, email, etc.
    • Process:
      • Dumped everything to spreadsheet, removing all identifying information (e.g. pronouns, names, business, etc.)
      • Can't be 100% anonymous (e.g. 'everyone knows what Larry talks about')
      • Put UIDs on everything to track
      • 25% of people submitted 2 sessions—but picked only one session per presenter
      • Deduplicated all the sessions, made sure groupings were good
      • Read through the sessions before the selection meeting (individuals made some notes)
      • 6 or so people went through the list and voted "Yes/No" (marathon)
      • After selection, selection group was dispersed, but schedule needed to be made
    • "It's a lot of work"

Taking care of yourselves

  • Need to eat well, relax, use good posture, etc.
  • Services like message therapy, aroma therapy, etc.
    • BADCamp: "The Hippie Tent"
    • If no space for an entire tent, maybe at least a table for helping people 'be well'


Thanks for taking notes. I gave my session during this time so I wasn't able to participate.