It is the day after the Ann Arbor Give Camp and I am finding that I am still reeling from the experience. In one word, the Give Camp was awesome.
In a previous post, I covered What is a Give Camp and stated that the ETNUG here in Knoxville was trying to set up a remote Give Camp in order to assist our programming brethren in Michigan. For those of you that don’t like links, the basic idea of a Give Camp is this:
- Find a group of Charities that have need of technical solutions (mainly application development).
- Find a large group of programmers crazy enough to deny themselves sleep for a weekend in order to work on the charities projects.
- Get said programmers together, divvy out tasks, and buy lots of Red Bull… lots and lots of Red Bull.
Although it sounds like a crazy idea and organizational nightmare, the organizers of the Ann Arbor Give Camp were able to pull it off (partially due to the fact that they were crazier than the idea itself). As things turned out, there were some equally crazy people in Knoxville, who were willing to do what they could to assist in the effort.
The Knoxville Remote Camp Team
We issued a call out to programmers here in Knoxville to see if anyone would be willing to act as a remote team and work on some of the projects that Michigan would pass to us. I am happy to say that we had good turnout. The Knoxville remote team consisted of 5 people (including myself):
- Ben Farmer – Programmer extrodinaire and all around swell guy – He mainly assisted with the WonderPuzzle project and worked very diligently w/ Joe to make sure the conversion process when smoothly.
- Jenny Farmer – Design connoisseur – Jenny worked directly with Phoebe, one of the creators of the WonderPuzzle concept, in order to make sure that the new WonderPuzzle site would match the overall vision of the project. Her final design, as anyone in Tennessee or Michigan would attest, was excellent.
- Dylan Wolf - Programmer and impromptu-PHP-Jedi - Dylan worked mainly on the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum project. Although Dylan is a solid .Net guy, his experience in PHP allowed him to assist the Michigan team in working through the project with good speed. During his down time, Dylan multitasked on the WonderPuzzle project as well.
- Joe Simpson – Programming guru and man-with-infinite-patience – Joe worked with Ben and I on the WonderPuzzle project. Along with Ben, he made sure that the new site not only met the parameters requested by the client but also contained as much of the previous site’s functionality and data.
I personally want to thank these guys for donating their time and efforts to this cause. To be honest, time is one of the most valuable things we have and they gave theirs without hesitation. Thanks guys – you all really made a difference!
The Knoxville Remote Camp Projects
Basically, the Knoxville Team took on one main project, WonderPuzzle, and assisted with the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum project. Both projects supported very worthy causes and we were delighted to be able to work with them.
WonderPuzzle is a site that is dedicated to those families who have children with disabilities whose cause cannot be diagnosed by doctors. WonderPuzzle’s main goal is to provide a site for such families to gather information, share stories, and establish a supportive community.
In regards to their site, our team had 2 main tasks: revamp the site’s look and move the existing site from a dot Net Nuke base to Sitefinity. For those of you who have yet to suffer through dot Net Nuke, it suffices to say that, although it is a system with huge functionality, it is very heavy difficult to manage and harder to customize. We were able to complete this project on time, creating new templates for the site, setting up and creating custom controls for Sitefinity, and the moving as much of the previous site’s data as possible.
Sadly, I have very little data on this project. During some email exchange with some of the Code Camp’s organizers, I mentioned that one of my guys (Dylan) had some pretty extensive PHP experience. In response, Mike Eaton sent me the email address of a team that was struggling with working through a PHP project which I passed on to Dylan. To my amazement, Dylan was on Skype within 10 minutes, chattering away with the Michigan team. I found myself amazed by the fact that they were working so efficiently despite the distance and the fact that they had just met.
The Give Camp can only be as good as the people who participated. Although everyone is a hero in my mind, there are a few persons who I would like to thank directly for their assistance for getting the Knoxville Satellite camp up and running. Without further ado:
- Jennifer Marsman – She was of the organizers of the Give Camp and was an immense help to me in getting the camp running and keeping me sane. Whenever I need anything, Jennifer was there working to make sure I had what I needed. Thank you!
- Michael Eaton – Initially, Mike worked with us in organizing our first project. Despite the fact that the Knoxville Team ended up with a different project, Mike kept in touch throughout the weekend, making sure we had what we needed and offered encouragement along the way. Thanks!
- Josh Holmes – Josh served as our main contact for the WonderPuzzle project. I am afraid that I ended up pestering him to death while getting assistance with problems that were the result of working remotely. Despite my constant nagging, Josh had an excellent attitude and did everything he could to make sure our team was up and running. Thank you.
- Wally McClure – Wally was the one who originally suggested the Knoxville Satellite Team to the ETNUG. Furthermore, he was kind enough to swing by Saturday to check on us and make sure that things were going smoothly. Thanks!
- Mike Neel – Although Mike was unable to work directly on the Give Camp, he was able to contribute his time and resources to help with getting the word out. Also, Mike was kind enough to drop by give the team a gift for working on the camp. Thank you.
To be honest, if this were complete, it would be much much longer. I specifically wanted to thank these guys / gals because they were to instrumental in keeping me sane and also allowing the Knoxville Team to operate.
Finally, I also want to thank Alan Stevens, Gabe Cooper, and Wes Idell. They sincerely wanted to participate with us, but were unable to join us due to unforeseen circumstances that cropped up at the last moment.
All in all, the Give Camp went wonderfully. I have yet to see official stats’ but the Camp completed around 14 projects in 3 days. That is a feat in of itself. Furthermore, I got to work with some pretty amazing people and had a blast while doing so. The group dynamic was amazing in that everyone was so eager to help and so excited just to be working. I am certainly looking forward the next Give Camp. How about a Give Camp Knoxville?
There have been quite a few other posts about the give camp. Here are a few others to check out if you so desire!