Amazingly, this Autumn’s event will be the 8th ChangeCamp.
When this all started back in June 2009 I had the idea that I wanted to arrange some kind of personal/professional development event in the North East. By then I had been to a few such conferences or workshops.
These big events usually have the same kind of format: you pay more than £100 and watch a number of presentations given by various big name presenters about how they work.
I wanted to run an event that was a bit different, an event where people could enjoy high quality presentations from a range of different backgrounds. I wanted it to be a buffet selection from a wide range of psychologically based changework techniques.
By the way ”changework’ is a jargon word for any kind of therapy, coaching, counselling, teaching which produces a beneficial change in other people.
Rather than just be passive consumers of information I wanted to create an occasion where people could join in and share there interests and enthusiasms.
I wanted the event to have an atmosphere of participation and community, hence the informality and shared meal. Eating together is probably the oldest community activity for humans. Creating and sharing a meal, rather than just buying a sandwich and eating it by yourself, is a great way to contribute and take part in the event. I am often amazed to see how much trouble some people go to by cooking or baking specially for the event. (It’s no place to be if you are on a diet).
When you eat together you can talk together. In the tea-breaks and lunch break you have a chance to make new friends and talk to people who are interested in the same kinds of things that you are. You can’t underestimate how good it feels to talk to somebody who is interested in what fascinates you, especially when your interests have been met with rolling eyes or blank incomprehension by your family and friends.
I also wanted an opportunity for people to try things out in a non-threatening, affordable way. Many training course, therapy and coaching sessions are expensive. Rather than make a leap of faith and spend a lot of money to find out if what you want to do works at ChangeCamp you have the chance to test drive what you are interested in and the person presenting it.
As a bonus for the participants they could try out something they might only have read about by taking part in an exercise or being able to ask an expert questions. That is a much better way of learning something than just reading a book or watching a YouTube video.
All the presenters give their time for free and expertise for free. They get the chance to present on topics that are important to them and the chance to be in front of potential trainees and clients and the opportunity to talk to people who are interested in what they do.
Finally, I wanted the event to be affordable and in the North East. Most of conferences cost (much) more that £100 and are often held in London which doubles the cost when transport and accommodation costs are added. I envisaged this as an opportunity that would be easily available for just about anybody in the North East.
The costs to the attendees are kept as low as possible, just enough to cover the hire of the venue (about £700 at the moment). Because the presenters charge no fee, and the food is provided by the attendees that means that the entry fee for the event is £15 or less. I think that’s great value for money.
It’s been a fascinating four years. I’ve learnt a lot about how to set up an event like this and I like to think that I’m getting better at it. I’ve been blessed with the willing cooperation of many presenters and volunteers who have given freely of their time and energy to help make this work.
I’ve also done a lot of physical labour (with the generous help of volunteers ) to set up the venue, run the event and clear up after it. Sometimes it has amazed me that we have been ready on time and ready to leave on time. But we have.
I am deeply grateful to all the volunteers who have helped move stuff around, be at the door to welcome attendees, managed the coffee stall and the food tables and generally helped do what needed to be done. ChangeCamp would not be possible without them.
During all this time I’ve had many one-to-one conversations with many people about ChangeCamp, what and why it is, and how to make it better.
As an experiment I would like to open up that conversation to the community of attendees on the day to have a chance to find out what you all think of ChangeCamp by having a ‘Pow-Wow’ during the day.
The Pow-Wow will be an informal chat in the main hall between 3:30 and 4:00pm (during the last coffee break before the Yoga Laughter workshop). It’s optional, it’ll be friendly and there wont be any long speeches or PowerPoint slides.
It’s an opportunity for us to talk about:
- What you enjoy about ChangeCamp
- What would make it even better.
- What kind of presentations / workshops would you like to have more of in future ChangeCamp events
- and anything else about ChangeCamp
Please come along, have a listen and have your say if you want to, I’d love to hear what you think.
P.S. You don’t need to dress up like a Native American to attend and that photo isn’t of me.