# Friday, September 2, 2011

I've lost count of the number of Give Camps in which I've participated. I've been on planning committees, found sponsorships, worked as a developer, and led a team. I've worked all night at some Give Camps and left halfway through the weekend at others. One year, I didn't register for the Lansing Give Camp, but showed up Saturday afternoon for a couple hours while my kids were at a basketball game. I was placed on a team and did some database work while I was there. I've participated in Give Camps in Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Grand Rapids. I've slept on the floor; I've slept on the couches at friends' houses; and I've gone without sleep.

I keep coming back for two reasons: The good it does others and the good it does me.

A Give Camp does a lot of good work for a lot of charities and that makes me feel good about myself. Hundreds of charities have been helped just by the Give Camps in Michigan alone. At the closing ceremony, as we hand over the finished product, it's not uncommon to see charity representatives cry when they see what they have received. Some of them are amazed by what people are willing to give them for free.

I also love the opportunity to learn at a Give Camp. I've learned how to build applications using CMS tools, such as DotNetNuke and SiteFinity; I've learned how to use JavaScript to manipulate images on a web page; and I've learned some of the subtleties of migrating a web site from one host to another. I've even learned things unrelated t the projects on which we were working. That's what happens when smart, passionate people get together. The wonderful thing about a Give Camp is that it brings together people of different experiences.

The concept of a Give Camp is simple: A bunch of developers and designers and DBAs get together for a weekend and write software for a bunch of charities. In most cases, this software is a new web site; but sometimes, a charity needs an application to maintain a list of donors or schedule events or some other custom functionality. These charities have limited resources and hiring a consultant is often beyond their budget.

The next Give Camp in Michigan is September 17-19 in Ann Arbor. Sign up as a volunteer if you want to help others or you want to learn something or you want to connect with others who are passionate about technology.

Sign up today at http://annarborgivecamp.org/Volunteer.

What have you got to lose? Except a bit of sleep.