Columbus and Ann Arbor GiveCamps

This one time, at GiveCamp….

This morning, I read that the Columbus GiveCamp site is now up and running. As I read through their site, I had to laugh at some of the things on there – as it brought back fond memories of my experience last summer at the Ann Arbor GiveCamp.

What is a GiveCamp?
A Give Camp is a weekend-long event where software developers, designers, and database administrators donate their time to create custom software for non-profit organizations. This custom software could be a new website for the nonprofit organization, a small data-collection application to keep track of members, or a application for the Red Cross that automatically emails a blood donor three months after they’ve donated blood to remind them that they are now eligible to donate again. The only limitation is that the project should be scoped to be able to be completed in a weekend.


Last Year’s Experience

Last year, Ann Arbor was a full GiveCamp, and Columbus, OH and Knoxille, TN ran satellite camps. I had talked with Mike Eaton throughout their planning stages, and as much as I could’ve gone to the satellite camp in Columbus, after having talked with Mike through so much, I was determined to go to the Ann Arbor camp.

I didn’t know which charity or team I was placed with until I got there, and that’s where I met the great team that worked on GoLightly IT’s SiteFinity site. Towards the end of the first night, Mike floated around the groups to get interviews and offer cookies (which I ended up tagging along with him and calling them “HTTP cookies”). I liked how he had the job of floating around to check on the groups and assist them with any blocking issues – that was a much-needed position, one that I wouldn’t mind doing. He pulled me in to help a group that was starting with the hopes of using SharePoint, only to be defeated by Verio’s hosting options and having to use SiteFinity. I was able to work with them to at least get them on the right path, joining most of us on the “we’re using SiteFinity and relying on John T. Hopkins‘ awesomeness to help us out” bandwagon.

“No showers” means “There are no showers at the facility.”

The Columbus GiveCamp site has stressed that their facility has “no showers” quite a few times in the FAQ. In case they weren’t obvious enough, this means that QSI does not have showers. So if you’re staying overnight, don’t count on showering there – it’s not happening.

Sleep is for the weak.

As for the award for least amount of sleep and probably why they link to Red Bull – you’ll find that some developers will stay up the whole time to work on their project. Some will stay up to help others with their projects. And some of us stay up just because we can. I managed to go 41 (or was it 42) hours without sleep at Ann Arbor GiveCamp, competing with one of the guys from another team in our room. My first night there, I hung out with my friends in the break room, helping keep Jennifer going during her 1am-5am break room shift. I’m not sure how the guys did it, but I got lucky running mostly on my second wind. Then my first wind for the next day kicked in and sleep was fairly inevitable. I could’ve gone for a little longer on the second night, but since I had a long drive home the next day, I knew that I needed to sleep, from a safety standpoint.

Going to GiveCamp this year

This year, I’m planning on going down to the Columbus GiveCamp – a full camp this year – and putting my background to use there however they need me. I’ve got one of those weird backgrounds – system administration, database administration, web server administration, tech support, developer… on both Microsoft-based platforms and non-Microsoft platforms. I tend to adapt quickly new technology, which makes it even easier for me to fit a variety of roles.

Ann Arbor’s GiveCamp will be running at the same time, as Columbus planned theirs to be at the same time. I look forward to seeing what comes out of these GiveCamps – last year, they worked on a lot of great projects, including projects for WonderPuzzle and Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve got the time July 17-19 and want to put your technical talents to a good cause, volunteer for a GiveCamp today. And if you know of any groups with projects, have them contact the respective GiveCamp location to see how the GiveCamps can help them out.

Again, the links for the sites are:

Hope to see you there!

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