Crafting Community, One Campfire at a Time

By Teri Chadbourne

Elevator Pitch

As a community leader, you know that innovation springs from collaboration. With ideas taken from a camp-style unconference, you can nurture the growth of your community, creating fertile ground for individual contributions, shared learning, and general awesomeness. (Pro tip: S’mores can’t hurt.)


As a community leader, you know that innovation springs from collaboration. Whether you manage a local meetup, a user group, or an open source project, you have the opportunity to create an environment that invites open communication, individual contributions, shared learning, and general awesomeness.

In this session, you’ll learn how carefully-crafted events can contribute to the growth of a community. With a camp-style unconference called Offline Camp as an example, you’ll see how small tweaks to the structure of a gathering can reap huge rewards in attendee engagement. Creating compelling experiences around a campfire—literal or figurative as opportunity affords—encourages greater participation by community members both during and after an event.

You’ll walk away from this session with new ideas for running and participating in communities, including how to:

  • Encourage open communication and increase attendee engagement with a carefully-crafted unconference approach

  • Provide structure to your community’s ‘unstructured’ interactions

  • Create a safe and welcoming space with the support of inclusive language and a Code of Conduct

  • Share attendee-generated content to keep the energy flowing in the community until the next event

Carefully-crafted events can make your community more awesome. S’mores can help.


As an event planner and Certified Meeting Professional with plenty of experience building conferences for developers and designers, I thought I knew more or less what I was in for the first time I co-organized Offline Camp. I thought I could anticipate the effects of some tweaks to event format and venue selection suggested by my awesome teammates, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. When the event rolled around, I was absolutely floored by the difference that the camp structure made in our campers’ emotional connection to the content and to each other. It was far and away the most impactful tech event I’d ever attended or organized, and I’ve been touched by the awesome feedback we’ve received from fellow community organizers who attended. Offline Camp has truly transformed the way I think about events and community building, and I can’t wait to share the insights I’ve gained with others.