2 weeks ago was Drupal Camp Asheville in BEAUTIFUL North Carolina. It was my 10th camp this year and was by far the AWESOMEST town I've visited! The Camp took place at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in downtown Asheville, NC. The facility was PERFECT.
Organizer Matthew Dale Connerton and crew asked me to come out and do a whole day of beginner sessions. So I DID! The room was nicely sized but we still had people standing in the back and bringing in chairs from other rooms. I was so happy to see so many people taking the plunge to start their Drupal knowledge quest.
This is EXACTLY what I see needed at every camp. I have been to camps where a couple people [usually me] propose a few beginner sessions, and often time these sessions do get selected. But what I find is that maybe one or two hours tops is targeted DIRECTLY at the people who do not know what a node or block or region is.
Who are these people and where do they come from?
We have to admit that Drupal is attracting ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE and doing so at a rate that is so mind bogglingly big that NO ONE could have seen this coming. People WANT BASIC-BEGINNER Drupal training and they are showing up at camps to get it. Are they getting the training at the camps? Sometimes yes sometimes no.
I am not judging organizers or presenters or anyone at all. I'm merely pointing out that we, as the Drupal training community, need to make a conscious effort to reach these people where they are. These people don't know how a Camp works. They don't understand that if they don't vote for the beginner sessions, the session won't be there when they show up. They don't understand why the presenter of session labeld as "BEGINNER" is assuming that they know what a module is or a CMS is or why the URL paths of a node do not suggest that there are actual directories in the file-system by that name. Yes, I received that very question in my beginner session at DoItWithDrupal2009.
What to do about it?
Well... I don't suspect there is a single best solution. All I know is that I am committed to getting to as many camps, LinuxFests, CmsExpos, OpenCamps, UniForums, WebContentConferences, etc. as I can and feed the people that are desperate to learn this stuff but need a hand-up to scale the tall walls that Drupal's robustness presents at times.
How do I sustain a model where I have already hit 10 camps and leave for one more in Atlanta in 2 hours from right now?
Earlier in the year I had Duo Consulting contributing to the community by sending me to many camps and other events. This year has seen a TREMENDOUS increase in the number of OpenSource events and DrupalCamps have absolutely EXPLODED! I'm even having one in my own town of Indianaplis this year! http://DrupalCampIndy.org Understandably, DUO couldn't send me every where.
My 1st six camps were covered by Duo Consulting.
Wisconsin was the 7th. the Camp covered the HOTEL and I drove to Chicago and carpooled with a buddy.
DrupalCamp LA was #8 and http://WebEnabled.com covered that one since I was giving a presentation on their Web Development Platform which I happen to be in love with. I was making videos about it long before we ever did business together.
#9 DrupalCamp Dallas [ AKA http://OpenCa.mp ] The OpenCamp organizers invited me to come present and took care of arrangements.
#10 Drupal Camp Asheville [the reason I started this blog post] The Camp organizers used sponsorship funds to bring me out and pay me for presenting. Matthew has been very transparent about this.
#11 Atlanta. Camp organizer, Dave Terry, asked me to come and present some beginner sessions but I wasn't sure I would be able to make it. I wasn't looking around for sponsors but http://prometsource.com contacted me and offered to cover my arrangements and pay me to present. In exchange they received sponsorship status to the event. It was a win-win-win for us all and I can't wait to see who is showing up hungry to figure out what this whole Drupal thing is all about.
#12 will be in my own home town but again PrometSource will be sponsoring the camp via my 3 Beginner Sessions.
So there you have it. Just what the Drupal community is into. Full transperency is how we organize and run our events. Coming up is DrupalCamp Phoenix, Toronto, Austin, BadCamp. And surely 2012 will see even MORE 1st time camps.
Will I be there? Will the camps truly meet the beginners where they are? We'll see how it plays out!
Right now I need to pack and get out to Atlanta!