When I was in grade school, I was very active in an organization called “Indian guides.” I learned about the concepts of fellowship, camping and community-building activities. (including craft-making and community service) In the program we earned patches, for achieving various goals, such as “completing a nature hike,” or participating together in some sort of “community event.”
For my next learning adventure I joined the Scouting program, first with the Cub Scouts, then later on with the Boy Scouts of America. This was one of the most value-rich experiences of my life. I was inducted, in 1972, into the “Order of the Arrow,” which is the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America. The Order of the Arrow uses American Indian-styled traditions and ceremonies to bestow recognition on scouts selected by their peers as best exemplifying the ideals of Scouting.
I learned, through these experiences, about the importance of teamwork, the power of collaboration, the bond of friendship, and honor of integrity. These core values were instilled in me through what I refer to as my first “tribal” experiences.
Dictionary.com defines a tribe as “any aggregate of people united by community of customs and traditions or… A class or set of persons, esp. one with strong common traits or interests..”
Wikipedia describes “tribes” as “clearly bounded, homogeneous, parochial, and stable.“
Over the past year I have become a member of a modern-day tribe, of sorts, the Twitter hashtag group #Eventprofs. For the last 11 months I have invested much of my social media energy on building relationships with this global community of like-minded professionals. The “strong common interest” that brings us together is a passion for use of social media with meetings and events.
Communication with my Eventprofs colleagues, while highly interactive, and valuable, has occurred, for the most part, through online channels. This past weekend that all changed, as I flew to New York, to participate in an “un-conference” I helped create, called Event Camp 2010. The majority of the attendees for this event (approximately 70ppl or so) are also connected to the Eventprofs community.
I arrived at this event excited to finally meet many of my online Eventprofs friends face-to-face, for the first time. I had extremely high expectations, and to my surprise, they were exceeded. From the moment I walked into the Roger Smith Hotel, on Friday afternoon, I knew this weekend was destined to be a winner.
From start to finish, whether attending a social gathering, or experiencing a fish-bowl style “storytelling” education session, the energy level was amazing! In my 30+ years in the events business, I have never experienced a more cohesive, passionate gathering of professionals. The sensation was more akin to a reunion of long-time friends, than to a first time face-to-face meeting of colleagues.
I attended Event Camp 2010, to socialize, exchange ideas and best practices with peers, and smoke the social media “peace-pipe” with them. I departed the event with so much more than that… I carried away with me the warmth of deep new friendships, and an elevated respect and admiration for our tribe.
Having now met many of my Eventprofs colleagues, at Event Camp 2010, I am certain that our future interactions will be enriched by this experience. While the educational components of this un-conference were important, relevant and beneficial, it was truly the first time face-to-face social interaction that will make it memorable.
I, for one, can not wait until the next Event Camp!!