While some might question it, in general, developers are good at heart. In fact, the developer community can be extremely caring. The growth of Give Camps over the last few years is just one indication of the way developers are giving back to their communities.
A give camp is a week-end event where developers and other professionals donate their time in order to build solutions for non-profit organizations. Generally, working in small teams, each team will work to build a complete system or solution for a local charity over the course of about 48 hours.
The event is generally non-stop for the entire week-end. Developers and others arrive on Friday afternoon and go home on Sunday afternoon. Often sponsors help to cover the cost of food so that the teams can focus on the solutions being built without leaving the building. In fact, most of the volunteers bring sleeping bags and crash for a few hours here and there at the location. The lack of leaving at the end of the day is what helps give the events their name.
Over the course of the last few years, it is estimated that millions of dollars worth of code have been generated during the Give Camp events and hundreds of charities have received solutions. It most cases, the solutions are handed over to the charities at the end of the week-end ready to go. The objective is to have the solution completed and as maintenance free as possible. In nearly every case, a representative from the charity is also attending the Give Camp as well to not only provide guidance, but to also learn about the solution that is built.
Last year I was involved in a limited capacity with our first Give Camp in Indianapolis, Indy Give Camp. This event helped a number of charities including The Marion County Commission on Youth, the Haven Youth Center, Shepherd's Center of Hamilton County, NuAfrica, Inc., The Tina Marie Arens Foundation, Autism Advocates of Indiana, and several more. Developers spent the entire week-end using a variety of different tools and technologies. The types of solutions varied as much as the charities. In some cases it was a simple website using Drupal, in others it was something more complex. Each charity's solution was built for that charity based on the need, the skills of the team members, and the time available.
This year, Indy Give Camp is the week-end of October 14-16, just one week before the national Give Camp that is happening on October 21-23, 2011. You might have noticed the announcements for the National Give Camp on this site, which we were happy to freely promote. During the national campaign, fifteen different cities will be having Give Camps for charities in their areas. Those cities are:
- Charlotte, NC
- Cincinnati, OH
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Dallas, TX
- Deerfield Beach, FL
- Grand Rapids, MI
- Johnson City (Tri Cities), TN
- London, UK
- Orlando, FL
- Memphis, TN
- Nashville, TN
- St. Louis, MO
- Seattle, WA
- Tampa Bay, FL
What is amazing is that in the course of two week-ends in October of this year, over a hundred charities will receive technology solutions that will help them better serve their communities. This will be a direct result of volunteers.
While Give Camps require sponsors and charities, the other critical factor are the volunteers. This includes developers, DBAs, architects, designers, and more. The more volunteers in this regard, the more that can be accomplished. For our Indianapolis event, the number of charities that are helped is directly related to the number of volunteers that provide their time. For every few people that volunteer their week-end, another charity can often be helped.
If you are in any of the cities listed above, and can spare 48 hours to hang out with a bunch of techies, then I suggest volunteering. You can find links to the different Give Camps on the national site at www.GiveCamp.org. I know for the Indianapolis event, one of our biggest needs this year is for more developers. You won't get paid cash, but you will earn a lot of goodwill. Plus, you'll help prove that developers really are good at heart.