My friend Dave Ingland, who I met at the first Idea Camp back in February in Irvine, California, just wrote a great piece about The Idea Camp.  Since the next Idea Camp is coming up soon — August 28-29, 2009 in Washington, DC — I’d like to share a few of my thoughts as well.

Here’s a quick summary of the ethos behind the Idea Camp (you can read more here):

The Idea Camp is a collaborative movement of idea-makers who facilitate free hybrid conferences and develop resources for people who desire to move ideas toward implementation. Facilitated by a growing collective of innovative thinkers and practitioners from numerous disciplines, participants gather around topics of interest to encourage and inspire one another, share practical wisdom from the field, and develop intentional networks for idea-making.

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Friendship & Connection

In the months since the first Idea Camp, I have been greatly encouraged, challenged and humbled by the friends I met there from across the country with whom I have stayed connected.  Hardly a day goes by where I do not receive some kind of insight from a fellow Idea Camper that helps me to love God and/or people more — or at least enjoy a good laugh during the workday!

Our church community has benefited from this sense of connection as well.  For example, when we began our Laundry Love Project (a great open-source way of serving your neighborhood from JustOne, which was co-founded by Greg Russinger and Idea Camp creator and all-around guru Charles Lee), we immediately connected with communities around the country who were also serving their neighborhoods through LLPs.

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Social Media (Free Your Inner Nerd!)

The Idea Camp is definitely on the cutting edge of social media — online videos (along with live video streaming), texting in questions to main session presenters, the social networking site, twubs (click here to find out more) and, of course, rampant use of the Twitter machine.  However, one thing I love about IC is that cutting edge tech is not the goal itself, but is there to serve a greater purpose.  While friends here in SD take great delight in teasing me about my nerdy Twitter habits, it was IC that showed me how useful it can be in developing relationships and joining in collaboration. The heart of IC’s use of technology is to connect people, rather than isolate them or foster random shouting into the darkness.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts (and barring any last minute miracles), I won’t be able to make it to DC.  I will, however, connect via live video streaming and by following the tweets, blogs and stories from friends who will be there.

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The Camp Is Flat

I love that the lines between those “on stage” and those in the audience has been purposefully blurred at IC.  Main stage presenters take interactive questions from participants; breakout session leaders only use about 5-10 minutes for presenting and the rest of the time is used for questions and discussion.

However, I deeply appreciate that the open-source mindset is not a random free-for-all. The facilitators are all practitioners and innovators in their fields, who can offer wise guidance as people who have been there before and are walking alongside the same journey.

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The Price Is Right

On top of all this, The Idea Camp is free.  In these tough economic times, it’s next to impossible to find an incredible gathering like this where we can connect free of charge.

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Compassion & Justice

I love that the theme of the upcoming Camp is Compassion & Justice. For many of us, we have seen the Church rise up and come alive as we answer the call to become a better expression of God’s love to a broken world.  Reconciliation, redemption and justice come not from anger or hatred towards the unjust (although such feelings are understandable), but from the compassionate heart of God.

My friends from Justice Ventures International will be there — I’m so glad that they’ll have a platform to share their story and connect with like-minded people in DC.  For more on JVI, read this great feature in Neue Quarterly.

If you are out on the East Coast, I highly recommend participating in The Idea Camp DC.  You can hear from over 40 incredible organizations, connect with new friends and collaborate towards building a more compassionate, just future.