SUMMARY: I’m at I’m at New England Give Camp 2012 right now, a “coding for charity” weekend where around 100 volunteers help 29 non-profits improve their websites. This is my first year, having been roped into it by my friend Kelley Muir, who is one of the organizers. I’ll be writing periodic blog posts about the experience as I have the time.
At this very moment, I’m hanging out on a stylish orange coach at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, where a few dozen volunteers have elected to camp-out overnight to work. Earlier today, our team met with our non-profit project and went over some initial parameters. Tomorrow morning, we’ll start going through our hit list of tasks and new questions, and see what we can get done in the next 48 hours.
One of the reasons I’d signed up was that I would meet a bunch of new people that, like me, have particular passions about what they do. It’s also exactly the kind of thing I’d shy away from because I am naturally disinclined to attend events where there are a lot of people; this causes my self-improvement interlock to engage, and so HERE I AM. It’s about 8 hours since the event started, and a small group of people are hanging out by the Microsoft Surface playing some kind of space game, cracking silly jokes and basking in the shared nerd experience. It’s pretty awesome.
My response, so far, is that I’m actually feeling pretty comfortable. There is the comforting sense of belonging that comes from shared mission, which shifts the burden from “who am I in this networking situation” to “what should I do to move things along”. It also helps that I know more people here than I thought I would, even though I don’t know them very well. I’ve seen them around at various events like Podcamp and Barcamp, and have grown to know their faces and personalities. To my surprise, it seems that just hanging out sporadically over the past six years has led to friendship.
I probably should go to sleep, but there are people still up and being away from home, I feel the urge to write some thoughts down. Ordinarily, I would probably be playing Star Wars: The Old Republic to unwind, grabbing a few levels on a new alt character and chatting up virtual teammates. This is a little different. Although I’m just hanging out near the Microsoft Surface basically ignoring people, there’s the feeling that there are like-minded people around. There’s kind of a community spirit here that I haven’t felt in a long time.
Tomorrow should be interesting as we get down to work. There are some pretty incredible non-profit organizations here that have wonderful stories to tell. I’ll be posting periodic updates on the GiveCamp experience in my Stream of Consciousness Blog, so look there for the moment-by-moment updates.