Drupal Camp Organizing Guide

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There is an effort to reorganize and rewrite this document - please see this post for additional information.

Building on the work that Nedjo did for organizing a Design sprint (Thanks Nedjo!) I'll like to get some help with refining and creating a guide for managing and hosting a Drupal Camp. Eventually I'll like to create a book page on d.o with a meetup guide, camp guide and sprint guide.

This is a work in progress, please take a few minutes to pitch in!

If you have run a camp, please share your experience. Create a new page (discussion) and link it here.

What is it?

The term camp derives from Barcamp. Barcamps are "unconferences" that are created to be the direct opposite of a formal conference (i.e. OSCon, DrupalCon, LinuxCon, etc.). Unconferences (Barcamps, Drupalcamps, etc.) are defined by the people and are for the people. The biggest difference is that unconferences do not have a set schedule until the day of the camp. Many people will provide topics before the camps but those topics and exactly who will present them are not decided until the day of the camp usually occurring during the initial "Welcome to our camps, how is everyone doing session". The purpose of a Barcamp/Drupalcamp is to get the local community to connect, and share knowledge and ideas with each other.

In segments of the Drupal community this "camp" format isn't strictly adhered to. Some Drupalcamp organizers follow a more classical DrupalCon-like organization process with a call for speakers, predetermined schedule and nominal admission fee. Using the term Drupalcamp is a useful way of designating the event as a local event, not a regional or international conference.

How are the sessions/topics selected?

Each camp is handled differently. Some camps have setup website with a forum that people utilize before the camp to suggest potential sessions that they would like to attend or would like to lead. In this way the community chooses the sessions before the camp begins.

A more traditional approach is to handle this on the day of .

On one wall a masking tape grid is created with times on the side and rooms on the top. Every person in the room will receive a 4x6 (or similar) card and will be asked to write up a suggestion of what they would like to learn (ex. Views, Module development, DB Scalability, Administration, etc.) and/or what they can present on. The participants are then asked to place these items on the wall in a timeslot. Obviously there will be more cards than timeslots but over and over again an organic process is set into motion. People beging to communicate with each other and they discover that they have similar interests or a could skill swap. Eventually through a wholely organic process duplicate sessions get combined and presenters decide to team up in presenting the topic. This process usually takes about 1 hour for 75-200 people.

What do you need to do before running a camp?

IMHO camps are a natural extension of a meetup. I don't believe that its possible to hold a really effective camps without first holding successful meetups.

Additionally you will need a website of some form. Groups.drupal.org has recently added new features that allow for a basic camp to be organized directly within the group.

Other camps have used barcamp.org as a simple wiki to organize the camp as well as the sessions, participants, etc.

While others have setup an entire website just to organize the site.

How you organize your camp is up to you but never let a website being your technology barrier and do everything to keep things simple.

How long are they

Camps are generally a one to two day event.


-A library on a University campus, a section of a University, a company's office, a conference center, etc.
Successful camps have had a single main room that can hold all of the expected attendees and then several smaller rooms that are used for breakout sessions. A Camp will have multiple topics being discussed at the same time so its important to have several rooms.
Although metrics are hard to give an approximate one would be
Expected attendees/25 = # of rooms.
If you expect 100 people have 4 rooms. 200 people 8 rooms. Unfortunately this is a horrible metric but the magic number for most camps with 75-200 people has been 4 rooms


Generally picked the day of but may be picked before.
A good organizer is always finding people in the community to be ready to present. This may involve creating some presentation material and they may not present (if the community doesn't ask for their topic then there is no need) but a few people are always found.


Depends on your location and community.
NYC: 10-5pm Camp, 5pm -> ?? drinking at a bar.


Food can be key to a successful camp. Having food at the camp helps to keep people together and the conversations following as the participants will not have to go out in the local area, find a restaurant, wait to be seated, etc. There is a lot of meeting, networking and great conversation that occur when people are sitting down relaxed and eating.

Lunches are usually an hour but if people have to go out and find a restaurant, wait for the food, etc. it may be around 2 hours total.


How do you handle expenses (food, venue, materials, etc.) ?
A lot of camps have been free events put on by the community meaning that the participants do not pay to attend the camps.

The largest expense at most camps is the venue. Look for a donated venue from a University, a local drupal shop, library, company, etc.

You will be hard pressed to find a food vendor that will provide free food. Although it shouldn't prevent you from asking. Ask the local restaurant, pizzeria, etc. if they will sponsor your camp. You'd be surprised and who will sponsor. Pepsi has often sponsored Barcamps by sending in cases of Redbull and/or Mountain Dew. In NYC we have a local Tea company provide free energy teas just because we asked if they'd be willing to sponsor.


It is very important to have your workflow for approaching an accepting sponsorships worked out BEFORE your start soliciting sponsorships. You are asking people to sponsor your event. Make it EASY for your sponsors.

  • Have a single point of contact.
    o Have one person be the point of contact for sponsors so they only have to remember one person.
    o Include the name of your camp in the subject of EVERY email
    o Clearly state all deadlines in your emails
  • Ask for everything you need from your sponsors up front
    o Logo
    o Name / URL
    o Description
    o Name of attendees

Handing the cash

  1. The easiest way to handle cash is to not handle cash.
    o Have the sponsors pay the merchants directly.
    o If you are paying for food have a sponsor pay the vendor directly.
    o If you need to pay for a venue have a sponsor pay the venue directly.

Essentially do your best to not handle money and to keep the expenses low.

  1. Paypal... Setup a separate paypal account just for the camp and use it for the camp's bank funds. Paypal makes things really easy as you won't need to be a company, etc. etc. It is however expensive. Very little can be done to avoid the charges.

  2. Use a local company as an accounting sponsor. A single company can take charge of taking in all of the cash and distributing it as necessary. This can help to keep Credit Card charges down but gets messy when the amount of cash goes up. DrupalCon was put on by a subsidiary company setup specifically for the Conference.

If the costs of a camp are going to exceed 5K then you should do one of two things.

  1. evaluate if you are going down the right path. Keep things simple and the costs down. Camps do not need to be expensive and flashy. The value comes with the content (presenters, code sprints, etc.) and not with flashy shirts/stickers/flashy rooms.

  2. setup a company to handle the entire event organization. In the U.S, and especially in Oregon setting up a company costs about $35 and takes roughly one day. You can then go to the bank, get an account and have money flow in/out of that account. When you are spending a large amount of cash its important to separate out the cash to keep accounting transparent to everyone sponsoring. (note that this can also easily be done with a paypal account without forming a company).

Example costs

These costs are from DrupalCampNYC 3 held in 2007 with around 180 attendees.

  • Funds Received =$2,
    o Paypal: 700 - 22(CC fees) = 678
    o Sponsor: 300
    o Sponsor: 300
    o Sponsor: 400
    o Sponsor: 1000 - 50 (CC fees) = 950
    o Sponsor: 500 (paid directly to food vendor)
    o Sponsor: 300 (paid directly to food vendor)
    o (Note: Cash handled by organizer = 1,828; Cash paid directly from sponsor to vendor = 800)
  • Expenses = $2,322.30
    o Shirts + Stickers + priority shipps (VGkids); 1,478.30
    o Breakfast 1st day (bagels & drinks) reimbursement to Michael Mandiberg: 300
    o Breakfast 2nd day + office supplies reimbursement to Sam Tresler: 165
    o Drinks at Brazen head (first day at bar) 80
    o Lunch 2nd day: 140
    o Drinks from Perelandria: (second day) 14
    o Drinks from Duane Reade: (second day) 5
    o Misc. cash expenses (delivery tips, pens, ice, bags, drinks, etc.) : 130 (mainly delivery tips but also too many runs to Duane Reade to pick up misc. crap)
    o Shipping expenses to shirt designer and Dries : 15
  • Donation to Drupal camp = $2,628 - $2,322 = $304 actual donation $300

More info at http://wiredgeek.com/node/702

Logistical items at the camp

Name tags are important.

  • Have people fill out there name and stick it to their chest. This helps get everyone involved.
  • Some camps have found it useful to attach additional information to the name card. Some examples include
    o Tag yourself. Pick 3 "tags" that identify yourself (I'm OSS, Video, Community; maybe you're Views, Maniac, podcast)
  • Whiteboard markers, erasers, etc.
  • Masking tape (works wonders for a lot of things)
  • Additional extension cords, multi-plugs, etc.
  • 5x7 paper, A4 paper, etc. Its useful for

What about the rooms?

  • Seat 20-50 people
  • Rooms should have a projector and possibly audio equipment if necessary
  • Whiteboard, Paper presentation board, chalkboard, etc. (Something for the presenters to write on)
  • WiFi (a must)
  • power for the presenter
  • Potentially power for the participants (less important than the presenter)
  • a break room with food, beverages, etc.
    o different than presentation rooms
    o may be the hallway
    o conversation in this room may be noisy so ensure that they don't interrupt other rooms
  • The more rooms the better
    o Allow people to create their own small working groups or small sessions.

After the Camp

Drupal Event Organization

Group organizers

Group categories

Event type

Group events

Add to calendar

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