I am going to have to add Twitter Math Camp to the "to do" list each summer. This year, it almost did not happen due to some financial challenges. The experience last year was incredible and I could not stand the thought of not being able to go again. I so wanted to be a part of it I even found a way to be a presenter from home thanks to Ashli. Just as the registration deadline was looming with space filling up, my awesome wife again gave me a shove and we found a way to make it happen.
Part of the way to making it more affordable was road tripping it. The past year I tried to meet up with Lisa whose folks live near me. However it seemed every time they were in town, our family was on the other side of the state visiting my relatives. The one time we were both in town, my kids were sick. Lisa and her husband offered me a ride to TMC13. Six hours goes quickly when you have someone fun to chat with. Thank you Lisa and Jason!
Being an introvert by nature (I would win first prize at Anne's "shut up and notice", recap via Gregory Taylor) I am glad I went to TMC12. I am not nearly as active on twitter and blogging as many of the folks at TMC12 were. With TMC12 being smaller, it gave me a chance to get to know a smaller group and not allow myself to hide in the background since there really wasn't a background to hide in.
TMC13 while having a larger group of people still felt the same as TMC12 but better. I had some folks from TMC12 to reconnect with and I got to meet a bunch of new people. It seemed whenever I went out to eat or hang out I was with a mixture of TMC12'ers and new folks. I got to eat gelato for dinner, sing a couple songs in the basement of a bar, eat some interesting concoctions off of food trucks, hang outside the hotel waiting for the fire alarm to end, learn to fold origami (I really wonder what the other guests thought of us in the lobby?), eat some really good food at a restaurant that reminded me of a place near me, and have some pizza and more gelato while serenading (quick Glenn, what were there names?).
Speaking of the hotel lobby, Jasmine had a good thought while we were chatting. The lobby had the feel of the old college dorm where you could hang out all day and have different conversations with all the random people coming and going.
I really hope everyone who attended had the opportunity to get that happy "math is awesome, tweeps are awesome" feeling we all had. Looking ahead to TMC14, I think there are some key ingredients that could possible make or break someones TMC experience.
1. Get on twitter
You don't have to be super active, just look at my number of tweets. Just start at least lurking and jump on a conversation here and there. This would give you the opportunity to have that handful of people to seek out.
2. Get a roommate
Find someone from #1 above or just ask on the facebook page. Random is fun. I'm not sure if I ever interacted with Justin before TMC but I am glad I had the opportunity to room with him at TMC.
3. Go eat with someone
See a group going for food, ask to join. The worst that could happen is they say they are going to Taco Bell. That is how I ended up with gelato for dinner, it was a perfect decision.
4. Go to the planned social event(s)
I did not go to the piano bar which was planned while we were there (I needed some rest time) but I did have fun at trivia and had a blast at karaoke.
For future TMC's, I really believe having the food trucks for lunch and a planned place to eat/sing/hangout the first full day was key. Everyone had a chance to start to meet someone during the morning sessions and then we all ended up at the food trucks for lunch and then sitting at random tables and grass chatting. I believe this gave us all a chance to bond some. Then for the evening we all had a scheduled place to go to. I think by having some structure on the first day, it allowed us to not have to worry about who do I go to eat with and where. Instead we got to focus on the social aspect of getting to know others who we could then possibly connect with for future food and fun. I think it is possible it could have turned out different for people if we ended up having to split up to go to different restaurants instead for that first lunch. Not every future TMC location will have food trucks, maybe we pitch in a few bucks to have a catered lunch, even if it is just pizza and bread sticks or subs? I highly recommend to future TMC planning groups that all future TMC's are structured on the first full day. I do not remember if I put that thought down on the evaluation or not.
Thank you TMC13 planning group. Riding with Lisa gave me an opportunity to see all the pros and cons behind every decision they had to face. Pulling off TMC was no walk in the park and you all get a big high five.