What Do You Get Out of It?

“What do you get out of it?”

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It was Sunday afternoon at WordCamp Columbus. During one of the sessions someone ask how many people had to pay their own way to WordCamps. I was one of a few that raised my hand. Afterward I was standing outside when I was  asked this question by a well respected member of the WordPress community.

My quick answer was this: to meet people and learn more about WordPress. Now, I am not the sharpest tack in the box. I probably could have given a much better answer if I had taken a moment to think about it.

As we all know, WordCamps are low cost conferences that can be 1, 2 or even 3 day events. To me, the cost of a hotel room and a tank of gas make these a very attractive learning opportunity. I am lucky that there are 3 WordCamps in Ohio and I can actually make this a one day trip.

I read this post written by Marina Pape on the WooThemes website after WordCamp Norway and these 2 sentences caught my attention:

“It’s not only for the content. Slide decks are up before talks are over and WordPress TV shares everything if you wait long enough. Business leads and sponsorship opportunities? Maybe for some. But my suspicion is most people do it for the unlikely friendships that form.

Everyone’s heard it, but the best thing you can do at WordCamps is talk to people, because you will definitely learn some things and might just meet a kindred spirit to add to your collection.”

In one way of thinking WordCamps “could” be viewed as a live Knowledge Base. Several sessions are offered, most have a Happiness Bar and you always approach someone with a question.

The Community is mentioned often and is a vital part of WordPress. I really haven’t found anything else that compares. Where else can a WordPress user like myself sit at the same table as some of the top experts in the world and feel comfortable & welcome.

So, when I answered that question with “To meet people and learn more about WordPress” , it may not have been the best answer but  it was good enough.

 

Acceptance

One of the definitions of the word Acceptance is the act or state of being accepted. Or in my way of thinking, the act of being a part of a group.

I was able to witness this recently during WordCamp Dayton and I must say that it brought tears to my eyes during the 3 hour drive home.

I had asked my son Mike if he would like to go to the WordCamp with me. Mike is 32 years old and is mentally handicapped. I really wasn’t worried about the people that he would meet, I was wondering if he would be bored sitting in the sessions with me. Depending on the situation, Mike functions on a 6 to 12 year old level.

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Throughout the WordCamp I would greet someone I knew or introduce myself and I made sure to introduce Mike also. He had a great time and had some interesting questions about some of the things he saw or heard people talking about.

Mike had a great time and I did not realize what all he had observed until we were driving home. He started asking questions about the people we had talked to. He started naming the people he had met. If Mike has one talent that is impressive it is his ability to remember people and names. I started to get tears in my eyes when he talked about how nice everybody was to him. As you can well imagine this has not always been the case.

So, in closing, I just want to say to the WordPress Community “Hats Off.” As in a lot of cases the Community makes a difference. As happens sometimes, it happens when people do not realize  that they are making a difference.

Two WordCamps – Eight Days

The month of March not only brought a break in the weather but also an opportunity for me to attend two WordCamps in the span of eight days. On March 14th I attended WordCamp St. Louis and on March 20th and 21st found me at WordCamp Dayton.

WordCamp St. Louis

WordCamp St. :ouis
WordCamp St. :ouis

I had received a personal invitation to attend WordCamp St. Louis by Nile Flores. Initially I thought that an eight hour drive from eastern Ohio to St. Louis was going to be a bit much but after thinking about it I decided to go for it.  Boy, am I glad I did!

I drove to within a few miles of the site and stayed overnight in Troy. Saturday morning was a short drive to the event which was being held at Washington University. BIG surprise! Parking was directly across the street from the entrance and WordCamp volunteer Bob Barker was standing outside with a sign directing attendees to the correct locations.

The morning kicked off with Cain & Obenland in the Morning. This was the first time I had heard these two guys and it was great! As you can see on the schedule, there were 4 tracks to choose from. The sessions were varied and informative. I know that well over 300 people registered for the event and I am guessing that 280 to 300 were in attendance.

WordCamp Dayton

The next Friday found me arriving at the Dayton Convention Center around IMG_0762noon. Traveling with me to WordCamp Dayton was my son Michael. He was excited to come with me for the weekend. I will have more about Michael later.

The Dayton Convention Center was a great venue! All of the rooms and lounge area used for the WordCamp were within 100 feet of each other.

The schedule provided sessions for all skill levels. Saturday kicked of with a panel discussion about something called The Imposter Syndrome. Very interesting thoughts and comments. After lunch was the keynote speaker John James Jacoby. I have heard John speak before but this day seemed different. He gave some background on his work experiences but something that struck me was his comments about keeping healthy. Eating right, exercise, walking away from work and doing something completely different was the message.

I attended sessions throughout the day and even spent time in the Happiness Bar talking with people. Mike and I meet some great people and had a great time!

Both WordCamps were well worth the trip. About 1,400 miles of driving, 3 nights stay in hotels. Yep, worth it. AND I got to have BBQ both weekends! Yum Yum!

Michael

This past weekend was a good opportunity for Michael and I to spend some together. With his work schedule, it has been difficult to try to spend time with him so WordCamp Dayton was a good opportunity for us. He had a FANTASTIC time! He met so many people that made an impression on him. And I am truly thankful to all who took time to talk with him! To find out more about Michael, you can read about this on my personal website.

WordPressTV

In the few months that I have been volunteering time to WordPressTV, I have certainly learned a lot about videos and met some fantastic people. A few days before WordCamp Dayton, I read the speaker interview for John James Jacoby. During the interview John stated that he recommended WordPressTV as a resource for WordPress users. I checked with John before I went very far with this idea. I thought that the WordCamp might be a good opportunity to do a video interview with him and this is the result: http://wordpress.tv/2015/03/21/john-james-jacoby-interview-at-wordcamp-dayton-2015/

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