I’ve been to several WordCamps and had always thought it would be great to have one in Dayton. I had no real intent on organizing one; but when so many people ask for a WordCamp, you start thinking about how you can help make it happen.
In October 2012, Nowell VanHoesen and I started a Dayton WordPress MeetUp group. WordPress interest was there, but was there enough of a community established to organize a WordCamp? We put the feelers out in our regoin: there were people from Southern Ohio who weren’t able to make the meetups but said they’d attend a WordCamp closer to home. So we applied to organize WordCamp Dayton 2014, talked to WordCamp Central, got approved for pre-planning, and got started on our adventure.
So it begins
One of the big hurdles for holding a WordCamp is that, like real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. We got a lot of help from the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an organization that not only helps small and growing businesses but also promotes WordPress. The SBDC operates out of Wright State University (WSU), which donated their facilities for the event.
The importance of recruiting enough volunteers to help putting this event together cannot be over emphasized. We had some people who were great at getting sponsorships, while others coordinated with the venue. I would definitely advise ensuring each member of the organizing team is assigned not only a specific group but also has hard-set goals/objectives with dates.
The big day
A word of wisdom: get plenty of rest before WordCamp. That being said, if you are able to set-up the night before, you’ll be happy you did. Since WordCamp Dayton was held in a college, the possibility of having our tables moved around by students had us setting up at 6:30 in the morning for an 8:00am registration.
Once you’re set-up and the registration volunteers are checking in attendees, it’s all about ensuring everything is running smoothly. Fresh coffee, plenty of napkins, snacks, drinks, lunch — the works. Prepare yourself for a lot of running around, double-, triple-, and quadruple-checking. The last thing you want to hear in the afternoon is that the battery for a video camera is dead or that a presenter can’t connect their laptop to the overhead projector. Trust me, these things WILL come up.
That’s a wrap
After the wrap-up, it’s important to have a team of individuals to help with cleanup. Remember that 90 minute set-up at 6:30am? Well, now it’s time to break it all down! There’s nothing worse than having to cart around two dozen tables after you’ve been running around for the past 8 hours.
Remember how I recommended getting plenty of rest beforehand? This is where your second wind will hopefully be kicking in.
In the end
Once the smoke cleared and I looked back over the WordCamp weekend, I told myself I’d never do this again. Then I remembered the people who told me how much they learned and thought back to the new connections I saw being made. I was able to see firsthand how the WordPress community actually grows, and I realized I contributed to WordPress by helping organize this WordCamp. It was at that moment that I smiled and realized that we should start talking about 2015.
Huge props and special thank yous to Brian Retterer, Heather Powell, Chris Celek, Earl Gregorich, Josh Hatfield, Nowell VaneHoesen, Christa VaneHoesen, Zach VaneHoesen, Max Spang, Josh Boone, and the many others who worked make this WordCamp happen.
If you’re in or around Dayton, you’re invited to our monthly WordPress meetup group to talk WordPress and connect with other Dayton-area WordPress enthusiasts. Meetups are free and really fun.