Planning for WordCamp US is charging forward with the call for speakers and volunteers closing in less than two weeks on August 31. Last year the event had approximately 100 volunteers but organizers are working to expand the team to accommodate more attendees in 2016.
“We’ll likely accept somewhere between 150-180 volunteers, which we think is the right amount for the 3,000 expected attendees,” WordCamp US co-organizer Alx Block said.
If you attended last year, you may have noticed how smoothly the event ran. If any aspect was hurried or rushed at the last minute, it was not evident to attendees. Co-organizer Ingrid Miller attributes much of the event’s success to the attitude of its volunteers.
“We had a group of enthusiastic, positive, and great-to-work-with volunteers,” Miller said. “WordCamps really rely on volunteers, so it feels like an important role to play.”
“We worked hard to make our process and decisions as transparent as possible,” co-organizer Liam Dempsey said. “It wasn’t just making it easy for volunteers to get involved – I hope we made them feel valued and an integral part of the WCUS success.”
Last year the volunteer team watched a short training video that outlined the different roles and expectations. Organizers also offered in-person orientation at the facility and shared a schedule of assignments as early as it was available. Miller said that they emphasized the Code of Conduct and its principles but “overall, we had great people who were super happy to be there, and that makes a huge impact.”
Each volunteer area (registration, swag, room staff, Happiness Lounge) had a lead volunteer to take charge and manage the specifics so that the organizers weren’t spread too thin.
Miller said the event’s lead organizers are returning this year and hope to build on their experience from last year. She identified several aspects of the event they are working to improve this year:
- Select volunteers earlier, so people have more time to make their plans
- Equalize the number of hours people are volunteering
- Add volunteers in several areas to provide more support: more general volunteers available throughout the venue for questions and directions, more volunteer assistance to sponsors, volunteers at the after party
- Try to streamline both registration and t-shirt pickup
- Try to improve the experience for some of the volunteer roles needed, but people don’t love (room guards, for example)
With roughly 1,000 additional people estimated to attend the event, the organizers are optimizing their processes to ensure volunteers and attendees have a positive experience again this year. If you want to be part of the 2016 volunteer team, applications are open on the event’s website until August 31.