Conferences and meet-ups have long been the staple of web design and development communities. Likely in part due to the countless hours spent glued to a screen, we tend to celebrate meeting up in real life, offering advice and opportunities, debating frameworks and processes, and helping one another through challenging times.
But there is a tendency for larger conferences to follow a lecture format, the audience dutifully sitting through a structured, scheduled series of talks and food and talks and food. It was refreshing, then, to get an email from Craig and Amie at Five Simple Steps, announcing their 2015 Summer Camp.
The pitch? A three day event to help you rediscover the joy of creating, without a screen in sight. Based in the stunning surrounds of Fforest camp in rural Wales, with fresh local food and great ale, it was a compelling proposition. As Dan gleefully recounted stories from his experiences at Do Lectures, I bought a ticket.
Over three days we made new friends, baked and broke bread, carved spatulas from locally sourced wood, and used screen printing and letterpress tools to print linotyped designs that we hand cut. As Dan Goodwin put it, that may sound like your worst hipster nightmare, but it wasn’t. Running through these workshops were talks that explored how we define and grow our creativity, how we deal with failure, how we choose to live our lives offline and on, and how we express ourselves through our work.
Also, there was a lot of really delicious ale from Verdant Brewing Co.
It was while telling us about his experiences as a property developer, during London’s recession in the mid-80’s, that Fforest founder James Lynch really struck a chord with me. “Don’t let go of the handlebars”, he said, no matter how difficult things get. In an industry that shifts and changes as often as ours, it is sound advice. Summer Camp had both hands firmly holding on.
It was an exhilarating opportunity to light a fire, literal or otherwise. To inspire, and to be inspired.
Same time next year?