On the off chance you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard the news, we just held the first ever Barcamp in San Antonio this past weekend. It was an amazing success and by far the easiest camp-like event I’ve organized. Considering I’ve done two Podcamps and a Startup Weekend in the last 16 months that says a lot.
When we were planning Podcamp San Antonio in May 2007, it was a challenge to obtain sponsorship, spread the word and facilitate registrations for a first-time event. Fast forward 16 months to Barcamp San Antonio which had generous companies contacting us to sponsor, pre and post press coverage and “sold out” registration twice! So what has been the difference?
I believe it’s a combination of a few things: First, the Camp-phenomenon is finally becoming main stream. Second, because of previous events, San Antonio is more aware of camps. Third, We have been lucky enough to have increased coverage in the traditional press.
Something else which has helped to bring our participation level up is the camp-to-camp attendance within the state. By attending camps in Austin, DFW and Houston we’ve been able to increase awareness statewide of what the Tech/Creative Class are doing in San Antonio.
When I first started attending Camps and talking about San Antonio, I would hear, “Oh, you’re from San Antonio? We never see or hear from folks in San Antonio. You guys are so quiet down there. We wondered if you all had any tech geeks and if you did what you all were doing.” It surprised me to hear these comments.
While I am a Native Texan, I was not a Native San Antonian. The fact that folks outside of San Antonio were unaware of the local tech culture seemed unfathomable. By being an active part of the community at large and encouraging other to do the same, that perception has changed.Â What I hear nowadays is, “Hey, it’s the San Antonio peeps! So glad you guys made the trek. When are you holding your next event? We’ll be there! I’ve got an event I’m planning, can you help us spread the word?”
I do believe folks who are part of the Camp movement epitomize the whole, “Learn, Share, Grow” mentality. We inherently want to help not just our local community but by extension the communities in our state, country and world. Camps are found on almost every continent. (If anyone knows about a Camp being held in Antarctica let me know.) There is an energy surrounding a Camp which is so powerful it’s almost a physical entity.
By attending camps around the state and organizing camps in San Antonio, I’ve found other creative folks who are just as passionate about tech, media and the community as I am. It’s both refreshing and enlightening. Most of the time we work in obscurity within our chosen medium and rarely find other like-minded folks to share these passions with locally. Sure, we’ve got our online community to inspire and motivate, but the face to face connection never goes out of style.
So my thoughts on Barcamp San Antonio really revolve around the whole growth and shift in local and state-wide interest and involvement.Â With annual Camps planned in April, May, June and September, the time has never been better to be involved in the Tech/Creative Class in San Antonio.