GiveCamp is a charity event where developers donate their time and expertise to solve problems for nonprofit organizations. The process starts before the event where the project analysts gather the requirements for the project. The developers get to the event Friday afternoon, and the project ends that Sunday.
I’ve gone to two GiveCamps thus far, 2012 Pittsburg and 2013 Philadelphia. As a primarily solo developer these events give me an excellent opportunity to interact with other developers and learn. I get to simultaneously apply my expertise to developing a scalable solution to meet a nonprofits needs.
The main reason I like to dedicate my volunteer efforts to GiveCamp is that my solutions are scalable. I build them a web application, and their efficiency increases 10 fold. Most nonprofits are in a terrible state of manually doing everything. If my efforts can increase the productivity of the nonprofit or the efficiency of the volunteers, I am effectively delivering a much high ratio of nonprofit work.
I get to be in a room full of enthusiastic developers. I’ve gotten several new contacts in my professional circle by attending these events. Even if I don’t talk to them everyday, we have something in common, and I can shoot them an email if I have a difficult problem. You can never have enough contacts - even better if they are passionate enough to give up a weekend to coding for charity.
By going out of my comfort zone and forcing myself to work in a team environment, to develop a working application in a weekend I am growing. Whoever I am working with, I sponge information off of them and learn things much faster then picking up a book or watching tutorial videos. I usually learn more in a weekend at GiveCamp then I do in a month of self-study – that’s productivity.
By having an extremely short deadline, I am required to focus intently on the goal. Creating short-term goals to reach long-term goals. It’s quite exhilarating to see a seemingly impossible task come to fruition due to your own efforts. Working on small tasks to meet a larger goal at the end is amazing, and the focus required to reach that goal is something I didn’t know I had prior to my first GiveCamp.
I think GiveCamp is a great cause, and one that I will be involved with for the foreseeable future. I get to flex my technological muscles, and give back to my community in the best way I know how. I recommend GiveCamp to any developer, especially ones who want to grow their skills rapidly, and enjoy learning in fast paced enthusiastic environment.