SkeptiCamp strongly encourages organizers to share their experiences of organizing events. This is to benefit the organizers of future events, to build upon our successes and fix our mistakes. The goal is to lower the barriers to hosting events for communities of skeptics anywhere around the world.
This page is where you can document your experiences from your events which have proven successful. (The failures can be found on the What Went Wrong page.)
Planning and organizing
- Kicking off the organizing with a 'Call for Organizers' where all the basic decisions are made collaboratively gains you early buy-in.
- The date chosen for the Colorado 2009 event was coincidentally on the same day as an all-day "UFO Briefing" on the same campus. Skeptics outdrew the UFO event by 30-50% (according to two reports heard by Reed.)
- Grooming one or more candidates for the lead organizer of next-year's event.
- Make sure you have a good sense of the event space, try to plan the room set-up ahead of time thinking about things like: chair set-up, registration desk location (if necessary), A/V location and placement, location of doorway for people to move in and out of room with disrupting the group, allowing enough room in the front for various types of presentations.
- Make sure to hold regular organizing meetings well in advance of the camp. Have someone record minutes that can be passed along to those unable to attend these meetings. Good communication among all camp organizers is key!
- Hold an "organizers party" either before or after the camp (or both!) as a way of recognizing the hard work by the volunteers/organizers.
- If you're attempting to raise funds for your camp, try holding a fundraiser party. In addition to charging for attendance to the party, you can also auction off various items at said party.
- A "lean-and-mean" event with minimal sponsorship, lunch at an external location, no shirts, etc. is preferable to having no event at all. This is what we in Colorado are doing for our 2010 event.
- Involving a campus group not only provided a great venue, but also a catered lunch as well.
- We found a generous sponsor through our local skeptic group that paid for most of the t-shirts.
- Having a timekeeper who also acts as MC for each room can help things move forward.
- Have someone devoted to making sure everything gets on audio and/or video tape (unless a specific presenter doesn't want to be recorded).
- Make sure to have someone in charge of the gofers who will be given various odd jobs to accomplish throughout the day.
- Getting word out to academics can provide great speakers who can promote your event to their students
- Contacting scientists and researchers who receive public money can provide great talks as well as a way for them to gain advocates amongst the taxpayers.
Day of event
- Describing how SkeptiCamp works sets expectations for those attending -- e.g., everyone is expected to actively participate
- If possible, print up brochures to display to those attending the schedule of the day.
- Wrapping up the day with a session that is fun and relaxing takes attendees down from the intensity of the day. Trivia challenges related to science and skepticism have proven successful for Colorado.
- Shirts not only serve as a reminder of your event, but also contribute to a sense of ownership.
- Having coffee and snacks available is an inexpensive, but appreciated touch.
- If you are not serving food at the actual SkeptiCamp location, have a printout of nearby eateries everyone could go to.
- Organizing a SkeptiCamp Event
- What Went Wrong - the flip side of this page, detailing failures of events
- SkeptiCamp Tips - the source document for the automated SkeptiCamp tip feed to Twitter and Facebook
- Organizing a BarCamp - Detailed experiences from dozens of BarCamps