Raising my Agility Stats… Agile Summer Camp 2008

I got at least a +1 to my agility stats this weekend, while I attended Agile Summer Camp. When I heard about the camp, I was a little nervous, as I have no Agile background. My current development process is very chaotic, unfortunately. I would love to get it to a point where there’s at least some structure and a more defined process.

What makes Agile Summer Camp stand out from the other “camp”s like CodeCamps is that we really were camping.

Frontier Cabin

Agile Summer Camp was held at the rustic cabins in Brighton, MI, specifically at Frontier Cabin. We brought our chairs out and officially started the event Saturday morning with an opening circle.

Agile Summer Camp Opening Circle

As Michael mentioned, I kept a dead-tree blog while there, and I will eventually transcribe that. Let’s say that the weekend started with a crank radio that had a flashback weekend and Michael and Brandon decided that “It’s Raining Men” should be my theme song for the weekend. Other than that, I got caught up in the discussions more often than not that my dead-tree blog didn’t get as much writing as I had hoped.

This weekend, I learned quite a bit about the Agile process and how it works. Martin Shoemaker did a wonderful job of taking notes from the topics that we talked about at camp. I’m glad that Duane suggested the Agile 101 topic, as it really helped shine some light on what agile development is about. Josh read a bit of the Agile Manifesto, which explained what the process values more. Corey talked about Extreme Programming and some of the concepts that it uses – including pair programming, test-driven development (TDD), daily stand-ups, and continuous integration. We had Lee from ProQuest, and she wanted to know more about the process as well, and Corey recommended bringing in an Agile coach.

In talking about a one-man agile team, it was interesting to see the things that Mike Eaton faces as an independent consultant. When you work alone, you don’t have the option of pair programming. There were talks of what they could do as individual programmers to possibly engage in pair programming.

All of the discussions were logged, and Martin updated the “weekee” with the notes. I now feel like I have a better understanding of the agile way, and I definitely want to look into it a bit more to see how I can use it at least on my personal projects, if not at work.

In our break Saturday afternoon, Duane and I introduced Matt Werstler and Mike Eaton to geocaching. We did a lot of bushwhacking (walking through vegetation), and we ended up finding the trail that might have made it a bit easier. We had some problems getting the GPSes to lock on coordinates, but I had made mention that since we were in the woods, we probably were looking for an ammo can, as that’s the container that’s commonly used in caches in wooded areas. Mike found the cache, and we signed the log and left behind some goodies from James.

Thanks to Chris Woodruff, Josh Holmes, and Mike Eaton for getting this event together! It was a great meeting of the minds. Whether it be new dessert recipes over the campfire from Gayle (rockin’ S’mores and these S’more tortilla things) or a better understanding of Agile, there definitely was something for everyone to get out of it. If you missed it this year, check out the photos from this year and keep an eye out for an Agile Camp next year!

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