2016 Cleveland GiveCamp Recap

Waking up the Monday after GiveCamp is always the most relaxing morning of the year. It's juxtaposed with the two preceding days where sleep is hard to come by and each morning you are reminded of all of the work that needs to get done that day.

What is GiveCamp?

Cleveland GiveCamp is an incredibly well-organized event that takes place in Cleveland, OH every year that benefits non-profit organizations in the area. The basic flow of events is this:

  1. A local non-profit needs a problem solved through technology but does not have the personal or financial means to solve it themselves.
  2. They apply to GiveCamp to have volunteers solve said problem for them.
  3. After a very long weekend, they leave GiveCamp with a (hopefully) working and maintainable solution to their problem.

Every year the event has ~200 volunteers who handle everything from design, development, implementation, and copy writing, to food, setup, and cleanup.

The event is a time where you can meet like-minded people, make meaningful connections with others, and do some good in the world.

What did Coffee and Code do?

We proudly play many roles in helping GiveCamp become the successful event that it is today. Did I mention that it's the nations largest and most well-sponsored GiveCamp event?

1. Sponsor

GiveCamp Water Bottles

Photo by Stuart O. Smith, Jr. @sos_jr

We were more than happy to become one of the many sponsors of this event, helping to ensure that it had the funds it needed to make sure every team had the supplies they need to succeed.

2. Organizer & Fire Extinguisher

GiveCamp Team Y Group Photo

Photo by GiveCamp photographers

Jon Knapp, founder of Coffee and Code, is a recurring organizer for GiveCamp as well as a member of Team Y. Call them all-stars, fire extinguishers, or red-shirts, Team Y was the group that you called when something went wrong. They are seasoned members of the community that are veterans in flipping a train wreck into a smooth delivery.

3. Volunteer

GiveCamp Team M Group Photo

Photo by GiveCamp photographers

Byron Delpinal, developer at Coffee and Code, is a second-year volunteer and member of Team M. His team helped the Northeast Ohio Voters Advocates better show their goals to a wider audience through a newly branded and designed website. This allows them to showcase who they are to a wider group of people. They now have a mobile-friendly site and can even take donations online!

What's the weekend like?

A weekend at GiveCamp takes roughly 400 hours to complete in the minds of those that attend. In reality, it's a 72-hour weekend.

Day One: Plan and Begin

Site Map and Priority List Volunteers arrive and check-in Friday around 5PM where they are assigned a team. Each team is a single letter. At this point, the volunteer doesn't know which non-profit they're working with, or who their other team members are. There is a 30min opening ceremony , and then its off to dinner. Oh my gosh, dinner. The food at GiveCamp is so top-notch, seriously. I can't say enough about it. At dinner, you are assigned an eating / working area where you finally meet your team and non-profit all at once. This is a meet and greet where you get to find out what work you'll be completing and who you'll be completing it with.

After dinner, the project manager starts assigning tasks and it's off to the races! Teams work hard to start gathering the resources they need and syncing up development environments. Day one usually starts winding down after the last stand-up at 11PM, but teams can be seen working on the boat until very early in the morning. At the end of this day, you should have mapped out what this project looks like and how you're planning to tackle this.

Day Two: Collaborate and Work

Task List on Post It Notes

Photo by Anna Kiss Mauser-Martinez

On Saturday, breakfast is served at 7:30AM. Teams eat and begin working around 8. At this point, the team usually has a fairly good understanding of the direction of the project as well as what each members role in that will look like. Task lists are created and teams go to work on their collaborative solution.

Depending on how large your project is, Saturday can become anywhere from a 12 to a 20 hour work day. This is where the real magic of GiveCamp happens, and most of the work is done. The organizers of this event do an amazing job of making sure that whatever it is that keeps you going is there to support you. Whether you work best on low-carb energy bars, fruit, coffee, donuts, cupcakes, or chips, there are snacks and drinks available 24/7. The planned meals, again, are on a league of their own.

Day Three: Finish up and Present

Waking up Sunday is a very different experience for everyone. Some projects have been finished and are writing documentation for their non-profits while others have three members from Team Y in their work space. No matter where you are on that spectrum, don't panic. Sometimes things happen that aren't ideal and that's ok, remember that everyone is there to help. This year there was a 100% project success rate, which only happens when you truly have a community that is focused on helping others. Egos are put aside, frustrations are calmed, and everyone does whatever is necessary to get the projects completed.

Closing ceremonies are at 4PM where each project is presented to the group. This is when you can finally relax your mind and enjoy the fact that no matter which project you were on, you helped someone that needed it. Regardless of your stress level throughout the weekend, you leave with a big smile and a feeling of satisfaction.

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