Summer Camp essence
It was end of 2011 when my colleague Vjeran and I were driving to our Osijek office. Being away from the internet and the usual workload we had time to brainstorm. One of the ideas was to organize a summer camp with eZ Publish CMS topics since that kind of thing was missing in the community. Given that we are a web technology agency with no extra capacity for marketing and event management, we surprised ourselves and actually did it. The combination of useful workshops and a beautiful summer location in Croatia was the key. Nowadays there are a bunch of conferences, which is good but it also stresses the importance of being unique in some way.
Over the years, we improved, added, and changed many things but the short motto still holds: learn and fun. Decomposing this term explains what this event is all about and why we think it is unique.
The learn factor
- Following that first brainstorming in 2011, we decided we want to focus on the hands-on workshops. This year it will be our 5th event and we still have only workshops: 3 tracks of developer-oriented hands-on workshops and the brand new Design topic track with engaging sessions about UX, digital strategy, user testing, and web project management.
- We do extra work to prepare the workshops together with the speakers so that we don’t lose precious time on any issues. Every year we prepare the virtual appliance with all or most of the workshop code ready to be used by participants.
- We do not offer standard presentation slots; there are plenty of other conferences that do that.
- We try to preserve the value of the workshops by recording it and providing a way to rebuild the virtual appliance so it could be possible to replay the workshop online.
- We seek workshops that are interesting, valuable, and in-line with our main topics and speakers that will be able and eager to transfer their expertise to the participants.
The fun factor
- Given the summertime and the location, there are also a lot of opportunities to have some fun and loosen up. The first year we introduced the boat trip on the 4th day. It has usually been attended by 80% of participants ever since. It is the time for relaxation and easy-going discussions about the things learned during the first 3 days and for enjoying the beautiful Croatian scenery.
- Along the way, we added afternoon joint sessions like the Celebrity debate, Unconference, or Meet the experts powered by a keg of beer. The main idea is to have some laughs, share your ideas, and mingle.
- Last year we introduced morning activities for people keen on running, swimming, or biking. It’s a great way to start the day and is also really fun. :)
- Ever since the first event, we have always tried to bring people together in the evenings, either by wine tastings, cocktail hangouts, or late-night pier singing. There are so many things to do at the Camp :)
Details on the this year's after-workshop activities can be found on the Web Summer CampExtras page.
The bonus factor
There is a hidden value of the Camp that we figured out over the years. It is great for networking! We offer plenty of opportunities to mingle with speakers and other participants. It is not a crowded event and it lasts for 4 days so there is enough time for everybody to meet. We actually encourage this with all sorts of sessions, being it workshops or evening wine tastings. I often miss the opportunity to network on other conferences where it is harder to speak to people you want to speak with because of a bigger crowd, less social events, etc.
There are not many conferences that offer this. The best example of those that do is well are the J. Boye Conferences. We went there this year in Philadelphia and a few years ago in Aarhus, Denmark. This type of event is what we are trying to offer: a slower pace, plenty of different opportunities to share, everybody is encouraged to network and no one is left behind. I am especially glad we have Mr. Janus Boye holding a workshop at this year’s Web Summer Camp at the Design topic.
This year for the first time we’re holding non-developer workshops which will bring even more interesting cross-mingling of different professions.
Program this year
The overall program is more or less the same as every year: 3 days of workshops and 1 day for a relaxing boat trip. We’ll have afternoon joint sessions and evening socializing like last year. Here is what’s new:
- The evening before the first day we will have a troubleshooting session for people that may experience problems with the virtual appliances. Hopefully everybody will be ready to participate fully from the first minute of the workshops. We will open the registrations the same evening. If you are already there swing by, we might even have a welcome drink. :)
- All workshop are at least 3 hours long (with a break). Previously we had a few 1,5-hour workshops but we wanted to simplify the program, make it easier to switch between tracks, and also give the speakers enough time to transfer their knowledge.
- We moved to another venue which should be an improvement as it is a 5-star hotel with better conference facilities and even better internet connection (although the last one was not bad at all).
The new Design topic will feature 1 track and 6 experienced professionals givingworkshops on digital strategy, user testing, UX, and web project management. I am very excited about it and, hopefully, will have time to participate myself. :)
Same as last year, when it was under PHP Summer Camp brand, the PHP topic will feature 2 tracks with 14 speakers. One track will be slightly focused on Symfony but most of the workshops have a broader value. There will be a PHPStorm workshop in the morning slot on the first day. This will go hand in hand with our new plan for the virtual appliance - to have everything needed on it, even PHPStorm, so that everybody has the same environment.
# eZ Publish
Like every year so far, this year we will also be focusing on the new things in the eZ community. This year the focus of the eZ Publish topic will be on eZ Platform UI and extension points. The topic will feature 1 track with the experts from eZ Systems, Netgen, Kaliop, and Swiss TV.
Companion track confirmed
To offer even more options to our participants, we decided to introduce a special program for participants’ companions so that they can connect the Camp with a vacation. Because why not. :)
We presented a potential schedule for companions 2 months ago and last week we got enough preregistrations to make it happen. All companions will have the chance of sightseeing and relaxation on the Croatian coast!
Early Bird ending on June 30th
Almost all information about the event is on the website by now. There are still a few more details to be added, but nothing big. Hopefully, you will decide to join us this year - hurry up and secure your seat.
The ticket includes:
- 3 days of hands-on web development and engaging web design workshops with the leading experts in the fields spread over 3 topics (PHP, eZ Publish, Design)
- Lunch every day
- 3 coffee breaks each day of the conference
- Boat trip on the 4th day with lunch included
- DebugMan triathlon in the mornings
- Plenty of other leisure activities (check out Extras!)
- Goodie bag filled with all sorts of fun and useful things
- Social events (check out the program)
Learn more about the event in the previous blog posts.
Big thanks to all sponsors
Last but not least, even with all the hard work we put in this event, it would not have been possible without our dear sponsors. Thank you!
Silver sponsors: CJW Network, Keyteq, Prime, Jetbrains, KNP Labs, Liip
Bronze sponsors: Sulu, Deepblue Networks, Ultima, Kaliop
Supporters: CEA, CISEx
Media Partners: Sitepoint, Netokracija, CMS Report