Photo by _dChris on Flickr

I notice that some of my social media friends in Vancouver have put together an excellent day tomorrow called WordCamp (a day about WordPress). There are sessions on using WordPress as a CMS, being curious for a living, SEO tips, and the inimitable Dave Olsen presenting “Art and Technology Are Old Pals.” ((Locals still talk about Dave’s über-inspiring “Fuck Stats. Make Art” presentation at Northern Voice a couple of years ago for which he received a lengthy standing ovation.))

I want to lovingly offer some constructive feedback to both their day and a trend in Camps I’ve noticed.

Are Camps Getting Too Expensive?

Tickets for the Vancouver event are $55 for the day. This surprised me. Generally, Camps in other areas/topics are free or priced low enough for most people to attend. Obviously, nobody’s making a profit here — the organizers are well-respected peeps in the local social media scene who donate a lot of time to various causes.

The Vancouver event includes a couple of coffee breaks, lunch, swag, and a social following the day. I’m not sure how much these cost, but my sense of Camps is that they’re meant to be an alternative to larger commercial conferences where tickets for a similar day might run several hundred dollars.

Are Camps Getting Too Organized?

But more to the point, I would argue that despite the title, the Vancouver event isn’t really a “camp” by the usual definition — self-organized on the day of the event.

Wikipedia’s definition:

“[Camps are organized by] sessions proposed and scheduled each day by attendees, mostly on-site, typically using white boards or paper taped to the wall…. BarCamps are based on simplified variations of Open Space Technology (OST), relying on the self-organizing character of OST.”

Vancouver’s WordPress tomorrow has a fantastic pre-set lineup — but does that not inherently make it not a Camp, by most definitions?

Last year, I trained to be an Open Space facilitator. BarCamps borrow heavily from Open Space. Their success is primarily based on the fact that those who attend drive the curriculum.

Do Camps Need a Mid-Course Correction?

Obviously, there is no official Camp company which protects its trademark. The use of “Camp” in an event name can be used by anyone, regardless of how the event is structured, how much it costs, and so on.

But perhaps events which are priced more than, say $20 or so, and those which have a pre-set agenda, shouldn’t use the “camp” designation?

What do you think?