Warning: This post was supposed to be my reflection on edcampNJ, but it quickly took a strange turn. I kind of liked it, so I went with it. I will reflect upon edcampNJ in my next post. I'll even use the same picture as the one below. I made some references to our recent edcampNJ in this post, but it is mainly about edcamps, in general. Enjoy!
- Eager Anticipation! - As a child it was so exciting to think about an overnight camping trip with the Scouts or family. edcampNJ provided me with the same exhilarating feeling of anticipation. As the date came closer, it was exciting to think about how the day would unfold, what learning would take place, what connections would be made, and what fun would be had. Camping always held this kind of magic as a child.
- Preparation - Neither camping nor edcamping just happen without planning. In the case of camping there are the obvious preparations; gear, food, supplies, maps, etc. edcamp requires similar planning for the attendee; registering, gear, food plans, supplies, maps, apps, etc.
- A Desire To Go - It may seem silly, but camping is something that you have to want to do in order to put forth the effort to plan the trip and take it. edcamp is similar in that it generally takes place on a Saturday and requires that the educator wants to spend their day off from work learning with colleagues.
- Initial Bewilderment - For the first time camper and edcamper it can be a little intimidating to take that first trip. Campers quickly find out that there are many people to help and/or campgrounds to look to for assistance. When you walk into your first edcamp there is always that feeling of, "What do I do?" Fortunately, within moments it is easy to find helpful folks who are eager to assist in making the edcamp experience a positive one.
- Camaraderie - Anyone who has camped with others understands the camaraderie of the camping experience. There is a sense of bonding with each other through spending time within nature. edcampers quickly learn that those other folks who decide to spend their Saturday at an edcamp are often like minded educators who want to continually improve their practice and learn new things. This connection creates an instant camaraderie and collegiality.
- Freedom - Camping is a very freeing experience in that it allows the camper to leave behind the hustle and bustle of everyday life, slow down, and spend time enjoying one's surroundings. edcamping provides a similar freedom from the typical professional development experience. It does not rely on the boundaries of experts and lectures. It is much more organic and free-flowing. edcamps are a reflection of the attendees.
- Learning - It is difficult to escape a camping trip without learning something. I find that every time I have been camping I learn something about nature, about myself, or about others. edcamp provides attendees an opportunity to learn so many new things and just like camping, it is almost impossible to guess what those things might be!
- Fire - No one feels that a camping trip is complete unless there is a campfire, campfire songs, and possibly S'mores. edcamp has its own version of this. Most attendees of an edcamp get truly fired up and leave with lots of literal and figurative songs and S'mores. Sometimes it is the fire ignited to learn more about something or the kindling of an idea that may start a fire back in your district. And of course there is the obvious need to come back for s'more (couldn't resist)
I am sure that I am taking this comparison way to far, but I wanted to help myself understand the name. I am an edcamp junkie now and look forward to future events. With three under my belt (few compared to some), I know that this is my favorite form of professional development. If you haven't tried one, I would register for the next one near you because it really is worth your while.
If you have any other camping comparisons for your edcamp experiences, please comment and share.