I’ve been having a hard time writing down some coherent thoughts about The Idea Camp because it was such an incredible experience for me.  I’m still trying to wrap my head and heart around it all.  It’s a bit like herding cats.

In any case, before too much time passed, I wanted to at least begin recording some of my thoughts and impressions.  I’m going to borrow newly-hairstyled Dave Ingland‘s format and break my reflections down into separate posts.

So, here’s the first round of my post-Idea Camp rodeo (each post will be titled in the both/and spirit of The Idea Camp)…

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I loved the ethos of open-source collaboration + participation.

The energy at the Camp was markedly different from other conferences I’ve attended; this was more about participation than passive attendance.  Charles Lee, the visionary who brought the Camp to life, put it well:

The crowd is still smarter, wiser, and more motivating than any one speaker… The Idea Camp was formed around the premise that the “crowd” (i.e., those participating) usually creates something amazing when given permission, encouragement, and access for participation. The key was to create an environment in which participants felt safe to share, encouraged to dream, and empowered to question.

I have to admit, at other conferences, I’ve actually left seminars when the speaker asked us to get into groups (being both introverted and shy, combined with the typical lack of openness I’ve sensed at other conferences, those kinds of “small groups” usually aren’t the best fit for me).  Throughout this weekend, though, listening and sharing came naturally as it felt like we were among friends.

The ethos of collaboration was hard-wired into the DNA of the Camp throughout:  main stage speakers doing Q+A via text messaging (and their willingness to forgo getting paid), workshop participants who were fully engaged, the sharing of many meals with new friends, the generosity of NewSong church to host the event.  This reflection from danatwichell’s blog says it all:

The beauty in the unconference is the authenticity and humility. It is the most servant-led conference I’ve ever been part of.

Much love to Charles Lee for the passion, commitment and wisdom in pulling this together – he laid down a great template for future of The Idea Camp or similar gatherings. I echo what DJ Chuang wrote in his great post-Idea Camp reflection, The Idea Camp as a Burning Bush:

Charles Lee showed incredible generosity to organize, to share his social capital by inviting a buncha A-list conference-circuit-rider speakers / presenters/ facilitators, to thoughtfully plan the flow, to keep it open source, to be fully present with everyone during the event, to honor the dignity of each person by giving space and voice so they can have an opportunity to be heard

More reflections forthcoming…