Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pass the Marshmallows

We welcome Christine Melendes, CAE, PCMA’s director of member relations, as a special guest-blogger, here with the first of a three-part series on the second annual Event Camp National Conference, which was held in Chicago February 11-13.  (We covered the first EventCamp, held in NYC in 2010, here

This is my first EventCamp experience … and to be honest it is my first time at any camp.  I grew up camping with my family -- and they did an amazing job of creating a fun experience -- but I never went to sleep-away camp, to sports camps, etc. 

S'mores. Photo by Chris Brogan
I knew that a lot of great people who were part of #eventprofs would be there, so I didn’t feel nervous that I would walk into a room and not know anybody. Still, I was going to camp for the first time. It was an unknown.

On Wednesday, I started seeing Tweets from participants saying that they were heading to Chicago, and my excitement began to grow. Finally, I was  going to get to meet people who I’ve been connected to, and friends with, on Twitter and Facebook for more than a year. I was not just excited, I was pumped up!

Somehow, I muddled through Thursday and Friday until, on Friday night I attended the Event Camp Opening Party at a local Chicago bar, where we enjoyed “camp-style” fare: Homemade tater tots, Rice Krispie treats, s’mores, mini-BBQ sandwiches and more.

I immediately was one happy camper. 

One of the benefits of online communities, like the hashtag group #eventprofs , is that it is possible to connect with someone before you actually meet in person. For instance, I connected in person with Twitter friend Liz King (@lizkingevents) for the first time, and reconnected with Jessica Levin (@jessicalevin), KiKi L’Italian (@KikiLitalian), Glenn Thayer (@glennthayer), Greg Ruby (@GregRuby) and Jeff Hurt (@JeffHurt) as well as many, many other friends (sorry that I can’t name all of you, here!). 

At the party, we also were treated to an amazing team-building experience: writing an EventCamp  theme song with Grammy- and Emmy-nominated, Country Music Association-award-winning songwriter Billy Kirsch (@BillyKirsh) – who is also an #eventprof. To sum it up in one line: “Everyone’s a champ at Event Camp!”

On Saturday morning, I arrived at the whimsical Catalyst Ranch to join the other campers in education sessions, peer-to-peer discussions, and general networking. EventCamp did not disappoint, as I spent hours talking to some of the brightest, most fun people I have ever met. We tackled issues of engagement, community building, new ways of thinking of problems, new uses for technology – and much more. 

Looking back at the end of the day, what I found most amazing (but probably not all that surprising) was how everyone there brought a unique perspective to the problems at hand. In the world of event professionals, everyone has a story to tell about a time “when,” and can sympathize with you when you talk about a disaster or near-disaster.  These people get events, they get the experience, and they get the value that face-to-face meetings bring to organizations.   And that’s what EventCamp was all about – finding a common understanding and elevating the discussion to the next level.

I will be back next year, and until then, you can bet you will be able to find me on Twitter (@camelendes) staying connected to this group long after this is posted!

Stay tuned for the next post where Christine will write about the meat and potatoes of the educational content – some great speakers including Chris Brogan, Liz Strauss, and Hank Wasiak.


Vanessa Hope said...

Glad you enjoyed the Eventbrite s'mores, Barbara! We love offering something sweet.

-Vanessa, Eventbrite PR Manager

dshiao said...

Great summary, Christine. While I was not able to take part in the tater tots and marshmallows, I did attend virtually on both days, including a bright, early start for Chris Brogan's Saturday keynote (I'm on the West Coast).

With coffee mug, laptop (and pajamas), the experience did not disappoint. Looking forward to the next Event Camp - perhaps I'll attend in person!

Larry Martin said...

Roasting marshmallows is one of the most popular stuffs we do during camping. We do talk and chitchatting while we roast bacon, hotdogs with mallows circling the fire.

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