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More than 300 people from all over the country converged on the sixth annual Florida DrupalCamp the weekend of March 8-9. We made some changes to several aspects of the camp based on feedback from previous years, most of which attendees embraced.
Perhaps our most significant deviation from previous camps (and from most DrupalCamps) was that we did away with the keynote speaker. We had a couple of reasons for doing this. First, our venue's auditorium wasn't large enough to hold all of our attendees (or to even come close). Second, we found that it is difficult to find a single keynote speaker that a large majority of the attendees will be interested in. Our solution was really well-received: double-length sessions with "featured speakers" well-known in the community.
We knew that we wanted to get the Florida community up-to-speed with Drupal 8 as much as possible, so we opted to use the auditorium for four "featured" sessions. From the very earliest days of planning, we added a line item in our budget to provide $500 honorariums to speakers that we felt could best serve our attendees. We made a wish list for our top five featured speakers, and to our delight, two of them (almost) immediately accepted. Others were willing, but previous commitments prevented them from attending. In the end, our featured sessions were:
Overall, the feedback from the featured speaker sessions has been very positive. Many people enjoyed the extra time, although we did have some complaints that we didn't denote double-length tracks as effectively as we should have on the schedule. The big "loss" with not having a keynote was that there was no one time when all the camp attendees were in the same room at the same time - this meant that we had to provide general camp announcements several times througout the day.
Each year, one member of the Florida Drupal Users' Group is selected as our "Deep Diver of the Year". This year was a no-brainer. Mike Herchel has been an amazing force for good in the Florida community: organizing local meetups in Gainesville and his tireless efforts to help ensure Florida DrupalCamp is the best it can be. For this year's camp alone, he themed the web site, handled the mailing list (and most of the marketing), arranged the hotel blocks, printed out schedules, wrote articles for the site, kept track of registrations, arranged the after-party, and threatened to cook 150 pounds of bacon for arriving attendees. He also give a pretty kick-ass presentation.
After last year's successful recording of virtually all sessions by Davrum Tech, we decided to try to take advantage of the Drupal Association AV Kits. Lanette Miller generously offered to lead the effort, working with both the Drupal Association and the venue to ensure that we had everything we needed. Unfortunately, we were faced by several hurdles we couldn't overcome. First, the AV Kits didn't arrive early enough for us to test them. Second, the laptops that were provided with the AV Kits didn't have any of the recording software installed. Third, the HDMI/VGA adapters we purchased (and planned on donating back to the DA) just flat-out didn't work. It was extremely frustrating for all involved. Lesson learned: get equipment early, and test the heck out of it.
Every year, at the conclusion of the camp, all of the organizers contribute to a "lessons learned" document that we use as a guide for the next year's camp. Here's some of the things we learned this year:
Once again, we had an amazing group of sponsors, including our (once again), Platinum sponsor, Mediacurrent. In addition, the Florida Technical College provided our venue for free, and the Central Florida Computer Society was our 501(c)(3) fiscal partner sponsor.
In addition, we had six Gold sponsors, and numerous Silver, Bronze, Individual, and In-Kind sponsors. Check out the full list.
Thanks to all the organizers who helped to make the camp a success. Apologies if I missed anyone (let me know and I'll quickly correct it!):
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