Last Friday, about 30 people descended on a large house in Bryant Pond, Maine for Rails Camp New England. Organizer Pat Allan has been running Rails Camp events in the UK and his home nation of Australia for quite some time, but this was the very first North American event (co-organized by Boston.rb’s own Brian Cardarella). Personally, I think it was a smashing success and I’m really glad I had the chance to be a part of it.
Our weekend retreat basically consisted of group hacking and pair programming, lots of lively discussions, gaming, and plenty of R&R. Frisbee was played. Food was eaten. Canoes were canoed. Urban Terror was instigated. Werewolves were slain by lakeside campfire light. Alcohol was consumed. In no particular order, of course.
In addition to the ever-important extra-curriculars, we had time to work on personal projects and share with others through a series of BarCamp-style sessions. These sessions included topics as diverse as Ruby Gems, GemCutter, Internationalization, CouchDB, and RadiantCMS. There were also a number of app demos and lots of peer consulting and mentoring going on. Experience levels ranged from complete beginners to seasoned professionals, but all egos were checked at the door and everyone seemed to get along like old friends. Social games and sessions really helped people get to know one another, and keeping the event small meant that by the time you left, everyone was on a first-name basis.
I’m not sure how (cough) productive I was over the course of the weekend, but I sure had a great time, met a lot of interesting people, and learned a lot from them. If you’ve never attended anything like this I strongly encourage you to. It’s a great mix of learning and fun, and the freestyle format allows you to make of it what you want. A far better experience than any conference I’ve attended in the past year, imo, and far less costly at a mere $120 for the entire weekend, including all lodging and food.
A big thanks to Pat and Brian for all their hard work, to Thoughtbot and ZenDesk for sponsoring, and to everyone else that showed up for being full of awesome. Hopefully we’ll do another RC New England event soon. I’m thinking that a mid-winter ski lodge excursion sounds like a damn good idea… Yeh?