This weekend was our second CampEd event and, if I am honest, I was very nervous about it. Dughall and I had lost our completer finisher from the 2012 event as Helen Daykin now has two gorgeous daughters to keep her busy and both of us are very different roles at work from two years ago.
Dughall made the link between CampEd and his own work when he led a course at Cliffe House in Shepley. This led to a large number of meetings for Dughall so that the event took place. We used the same method of sourcing people through social media and everything collated on a google doc. As we neared the event, we had some dropouts and there were concerns about viability. As ever, when we got to last week the camp site was quite full and we reflected on perhaps marketing the bedrooms in the wrong way.
Without falling into a diary of events, I do want to look at why I think that the model of CampEd is potentially significant for different CPD events.
As the father of two teenagers, I spend most of my life either at work or working at home whilst my children often sit in their rooms doing homework or engaging with an electronic world. It was wonderful to spend time with the kids and my wife at Cliffe House despite torrential rain. They both had a good time although I suspect that my eldest doesn’t want to see an under 10 year old for a week or two!
My daughter soon found a friendship group with other girls in Year 7 to 9 and they seemed to move from activity to activity. I was impressed that Drew Buddie’s daughter persuaded her to go on the Sunday afternoon walk. Â She even found time to talk to me!
My son had the privilege of playing in a band with Bev Evans, Dan Bowen and Kevin McLaughlin at CampEd12. This year, he had an hour playing with the wonderful Ceri Williams and the assembled masses of the smartphone carrying choir. I cannot thank Ceri for the kindness and enthusiasm he showed in putting on a lovely evening of music.
I did enjoy watching him spending time with Drew Buddie’s son as they played guitar together on the Sunday morning. This is the sort of thing that makes it such a wonderful event.
I have always enjoyed the format and ethos of Teachmeets and the less formal forms of CPD and, to an extent, this is why CampED came about in order to create what Dughall refers to in his blog postÂ Â as the gaps. There was a nice rhythm to the event and this was helped by those moments where you could catch up with people.
Â It was great to see people renew friendships from two years ago but also to see new attendees welcomed into the fold straightaway. I know that my wife has a notes section on her phone full of new ideas and resources. She has also received an email full of goodies from Ceri Williams after their discussion on the walk.
For me, I have picked up some great links from discussions with so many of the people over the weekend which didn’t even take place in the CPD sessions. These are things which we can put in place back at school in the near future.
The CPD sessions were not arranged as fastidiously this time and it seems that this was a strength of the weekend. The weather meant that we put outdoor sessions into any breaks in the rain which meant that there were always discussions about the running order.
Saturday afternoon was filled with watching the sessions on extracting DNA from bananas with RichardÂ andÂ Jo Badgeand animation led by Martin Bailey. Both sessions were very well received and a great chance for children to teach their parents!
It was also great to see Ceri Williams show such patience on creating the masterpiece below as well.
After these sessions I was lucky to go orienteering with Dawn Hallybone, who has recently taken on the role of Acting Head at her school, Jo Hughes-Hutchings, who is doing some very interesting things with the curriculum at her school, and her daughter. This was a lovely twist on orienteering as the clues were all photos of places around the estate. A great activity although we were overtaken by lots of children!
On Sunday, I was lucky to take part in Catherine Elliot‘s session on Computational Thinking. It displayed such clarity of thinking and we all learned a fantastic magic trick which backed up the ideas of thinking like a computer. I will take so much from the session back to discussions with our new Computing leader at school.
In the afternoon, I had the pleasure of what is the highlight of CampEd sessions – the walk. I lost the dog to one of Jo Badge’s daughters and so spent my time talking to different people on the 5 miles we covered across such beautiful countryside. These conversations continued in a lovely pub we found on the way home as well where the dog was treated to his own individual bowl!
We then proceeded up to the Sovereign pub for the closing conference dinner where we were abandoned by our children so that they could sit with their friends and play one of the several card and board games introduced over the weekend by the Buddie family. This summed up the spirit of the weekend with people talking over a myriad of topics over good food and drink.
The real pleasure for me was the fact that we attracted new families to attend this time and not all from the same group of Twitter followers. It was great to see Beren, Jo and Catherine with their families and most importantly, that we passed the spousal test. If the non educationalist member of the group enjoys it then we know that we are doing something right. We passed the test and it was clear that Dughall had struck gold with his choice of location. As Alex Bellars has bloggedÂ this week, this is no criticism of Hardnaze Farm, but I do believe that we have found our spiritual home for the northern meets.
I did find more time this weekend for conversations and it was great to catch up with Brynn Llewellyn to talk about his new product of Tagtiv8, Ceri Williams to discuss phonics and writing, Tom Whitehead to discuss leadership through some of his wonderful stories.
The weekend was beautifully rounded off waking up to a glorious morning on the monday and sight of the three wise monkeys sat outside my caravan.
So where does it leave CampEd as a concept. I am so proud to have been involved in the two events and to have supported Dughall in his ventures for this one. If I am honest, we missed some tricks this time including using FaceBook as a recruiting post. Although, we have set up a Facebook page to collate photos and blogs. I also think that, if we can hold it at Cliffe House, we have found a wonderful base for future events.
Alex Bellars did return to Hampshire with plans for #CampEdSouthÂ to take place in the New Forest at Avon Tyrell in October half term. I really hope that this will take place and we will definitely attend if it does.
So we survived the rain, the wonderful game of Werewolves led by Euan Buddie and pushing vans off the site on the last morning. Thanks to everyone who made it such a great weekend.