During this past weekend, I attended the first ever WordCamp Dayton, Ohio. Organized by Nathan Driver and a number of volunteers, the event was held on the campus of Wright State University within Rike Hall. Other WordCamps I’ve attended on college campuses have gone well and this event was no exception.
WordCamp Dayton Started As A Meetup
When I asked Driver how WordCamp Dayton started, he told me it began with their local meetup. After visiting WordCamps throughout the state of Ohio, he discovered many of the attendees were from Southwest Ohio and wanted an event closer to home. He created a meetup around the Dayton area to gauge interest. “After a couple of months of debating we went for it and had our first MeetUp in October 2012″. After managing the meetup for a couple of months, Driver noticed interest grew along with memberships which is when he decided to begin the process of creating a WordCamp.
— Dustin Filippini (@dustyf) March 8, 2014
WordCamp Dayton was a two-day event with Friday featuring a beginners workshop. I was told around 65 people participated in the workshop where they were introduced to WordPress and learned about eCommerce as well as SEO. Saturday was dedicated to three different tracks of sessions covering publishers and users, power users, and developers.
New Event Filled With New Users
When Driver asked the audience how many of them were new to WordPress almost two-thirds of the room raised their hands. When he asked the audience if it was their first WordCamp, almost the same amount of hands were raised. Considering this was the first event of its kind in the area and so many people were new to WordPress, it’s impressive to see how many of them discovered and attended the event.
— Chris Celek (@ChrisCelek) March 8, 2014
Cory Miller Delivers Inspirational Keynote
Cory Miller of iThemes.com gave his keynote presentation after lunch and it was filled with inspirational messages. During the keynote, I looked around the room and saw a lot of people nodding their head in agreement. It was one of the most talked about sessions of the day. Here are a few examples:
— Joseph Herbrandson (@JHerbrandson) March 8, 2014
— Daniel J. Lewis (@theDanielJLewis) March 8, 2014
— Mark Stevenson (@hsleader777) March 8, 2014
Advice For New Organizers
Organizing a WordCamp is not an easy task. It takes drive, dedication, and a team of great volunteers. Driver told me one of the most challenging aspects of organizing the event was “Finding the right individuals to have on the team and working with their schedule“. While WordCamp is labeled a conference, it’s not the typical event people may be familiar with. As Driver told me, “It’s not about sitting in a room and listening to a speaker and moving on to the next one. It’s about providing a community environment.”
I asked Driver what advice would he give to those organizing their first WordCamp:
Take your time. Contact everyone. Above all, have fun. As soon as you get the green light from WordCamp Central go for it. Work through the tasks you think will be the most difficult first. Keep that momentum and keep going back to the reason why you wanted to have a WordCamp in your area. It’s not about you, it’s about the community.
First Time Event Is A Flying Success
First time WordCamps usually have hiccups. While we did have a schedule change and had to switch rooms once to account for the number of people showing up to certain sessions, the rest of the event was perfect. The catered food was delicious, there was plenty of time for networking, and the location was just right. I commend and thank Nathan Driver along with all of his volunteers for helping make the first WordCamp Dayton such a success. I hope it becomes an annual tradition.
Last but not least, WordCamp Dayton reminded me that although WordPress is software, it’s the people behind it that make all the difference.