Code Camps are about Building Community, Not Presentations…

Although I appreciate the recent posts about presentation tips as we enter a new season of code camps, it is important to not lose sight of the real value of code camps. Code camps are not about presentations. Code camps are about building a healthy and active local developer community.

Code camps entice developers to come out and participate with other developers who share a similar passion. The developers come out and build new friends and relationships and eventually begin contributing to the community for which they have received so much. One of the best ways to contribute is to present at various developer groups and code camps.

This is an exciting turning point in both the developer and the community. The developer is no longer satisfied with just receiving, but wants to give back to the community by presenting at a local developer group or code camp. And even though they are probably fearful of failing and need to shell out their own money for expenses, the community means more to them. They are willing to face those fears and part with their hard earned money. I applaud them.

Personally, I want more new and maturing presenters at code camps. 80% of the battle to becoming a good presenter is to get past the fear and nervousness of presenting in front of a crowd. Sure you need to prepare for the presentation and various presentation tips that have been given are useful, but the key is confidence, and confidence is only gained by presenting and having a healthy developer community that encourages new and inexperienced speakers.

These new and inexperienced presenters at our code camps are the future rockstars and the life blood of the community. The cool thing is that we get to watch them develop their leadership, presentation, and technical skills in the community. One day the presenter is that nervous “unknown” developer, and the next day he or she is speaking at major conferences, working for Microsoft, or what have ya.

It is an amazing experience for us all.

For those of you organizing a code camp, I hope you help these future rockstars : CodeCamps – Encourage, Assist and Thank Your First-Time and Maturing Speakers

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8 Responses to Code Camps are about Building Community, Not Presentations…

  1. @Scott,

    Ok, now I feel like a total ass. Because not an hour after I posted that comment, I got a reply from the Iowa Code Camp, I am going to speaking there now.

    And yes, I have found User Groups both very open and very supportive of new presenters.


  2. Scott says:


    I can only speak to my experience at the Portland and Seattle Code Camps, but they’ve both been exceptionally open as to who can present. Personally, I’d think that any CC organizer who told someone they couldn’t present for any reason other than time constraints needs to be replaced.

    Are there opportunities to speak at work?

  3. David Hayden says:


    I totally agree with your statement about user groups not being second fiddle. I prefer user group speaking.

  4. Ian Cooper says:

    @Derik Here in the UK our closest equivalent to a Code Camp is DDD. We hold an open submission and voting process prior to the event to help determine who will speak. This does help to avoid the ‘club’ pattern where only folks in the know get to present. It can have its critics, particularly around those folks focused on quality of speakers over building community, but I think the openness of the selection process is a vital part of our offering.

    I would also suggest that speaking at user groups is not second-fiddle. For sure you don’t necessarily get the same ‘big stage’ but I believe that the people who speak regularly at user groups are doing far more for community than the rock star speakers who only do big events a couple of times a year.

  5. David Hayden says:

    @ Derik,

    Chances are that if you have that perception, there are probably many others in your community that feel the same way, too. Whether it is true or not, hopefully that perception is something the community as a whole is trying to eliminate. I have enjoyed your blog for some time now and think you would be a great asset to the community.

    I remember having a similar feeling when I first tried to present at various code camps in our community. It turns out we have a great and open community, but could use a few more proactive community champions trying to build up local talent as well as help first-time speakers at the various events. In the beginning, there were times when I felt completely alone, as sappy as that sounds :)

    Speaking at user groups is an excellent way to start and build confidence. I think you’ll find yourself a regular code camp speaker in no time. I recommend building a close relationship with the local Microsoft Evangelists and Community Champions and asking them the best way to assure yourself a slot at the next code camp.

  6. @David,


    Actually, as someone who is trying to break into speaking, I am finding it a little discouraging. I have been able to setup dates for local users groups, which rocks. But it seems to me (as someone on the outside looking in) that that various events like code camps (but not limited to code camps) are ‘boys clubs’. Meaning that if you don’t know someone you will not be able to present. I could be completely wrong (actually, I hope I am), but this is my feeling.

    The reason for this feeling is because by time events are announced all speaking spots are taken. Thus limiting the amount of changes for would be presenters.


  7. David Hayden says:


    I think we all agree that code camps are about building community. However, even though they were not saying anything different, they also weren’t saying it. Therefore, I thought it needed to be said so that any potential speakers didn’t get intimated and think that anything but a flawless presentation was unacceptable.

    There are many posts out there giving presentation tips, but very few encouraging first-time speakers to present at code camps. I thought I would add one to CodeBetter :)

  8. David,

    I agree with your statement that code camps are about building community, I don’t think any one was saying anything different.

    Personally I am very happy they posted. They are posting are about their experiences and their wisdom which is something the code camps are for as well. As a new presenter (giving 1, 1 more planed, and hopefully more after that) I am soaking this up.

    You talk that 80% of battle is getting over the fear, but the battle is also to get the experience and if you don’t have the chance to speak often, you can at least gain experience via the wisdom of others.

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