The Story of Event Camp DC & Event Camp Vancouver: Distinct Global Experiences

Please enjoy the following guest post from our friend Sarah Vinning with the National Conference Center, who hosted Event Camp DC earlier this month!

Seven.  It’s the total number of Event Camp conferences that have been held in the past year.

The Event Camp series is a concept that first started with Jessica Levin, a meeting planner, and a few friends on Twitter who had the idea to host a bar camp for event professionals in New York City.  Its intention was to offer meeting and event professionals an opportunity to come together in an unstructured format without a pre-planned agenda and “just be,” as Levin describes it.

The main selling point behind every Event Camp is that each one is different in its own unique way.

Conference organizers make decisions such as venue selection, conference format, if there’s a virtual component and the content (unless the organizers follow the peer conference concept in which attendees determine what happens).

“I’ve been to one, they’re all the same,” is not applicable to these conferences.  Over the first weekend in November, there were two Event Camp conferences held over the same dates across the globe – Event Camp Vancouver and Event Camp East Coast (also referred to as Event Camp DC due to The National Conference Center’s proximity to the Nation’s Capital).

Event Camp East Coast was a genuine peer conference where the attendees reveal in a round table discussion their area of expertise, what they want to learn during the conference and how they hope to get there.  The purpose of a conference like this is to ensure attendees learn what they intended to get out of the conference.

On the first night of Event Camp East Coast, we wrote topics we were interested in learning based on our own interests and expertise.  Then, the conference committee established an agenda that was posted on GoogleDocs that night.  Sessions included improv for eventprofs, exploring why some events sell out and others don’t, online community management, hybrid events and the impact on attendance and face to face shyness epidemic – making events warming.

For Event Camp Vancouver, the conference ball-game was another story.  Their agenda was established prior to the conference and posted on their website, which can be an easier sell for someone when approaching their supervisor about attending.  It also helps them set personal expectations prior to arriving.

Vancouver had a virtual component like Event Camp Twin Cities did for attendees who couldn’t attend.  The pre-determined sessions at Event Camp Vancouver included the future of hybrid, what does fair trade mean and how do we find it in our sourcing, room for thought, think before you eat, defining yourself and your brand in the age of social media.

Throughout the entire conference, attendees played Get Your Green On, a gaming app based on sustainability that was initially built for GMIC’s 2011 conference; the app presents attendees with green challenges and they can earn as many points as possible by performing different acts of green.

The Room for Thought at Event Camp Vancouver, a green space designed for participants to have a place to reflect and rejuvenate. Photo provided courtesy of Greenscape Design & Decor.

The sessions in Vancouver and in D.C. had differences but prove for an interesting case study.

Session topics at Vancouver were pre-determined while those at D.C. were created on-site, yet there was clear overlap: brain-friendly food for meetings, where we’re going with hybrid and the future as well as improv.

With unique organizers for both Event Camps and unmatched conference formats, it’s fascinating to see perhaps we’re all influencing each other through social media in the #eventprofs community and as a result, we’re interested in similar topics within the industry.

To find out more about Event Camp conferences, visit

Thank you to Sarah for writing this post for us!  To contact Sarah with questions about these events or the National Conference Center, please call 703-724-6263  or email her at

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