The Idea Camp is Officially Back!
The Idea Camp was a new kind of conference experience I created back in early 2009 with a few friends. It was designed to be a peer-to-peer learning, sharing, and networking experience among practitioners doing the work of compassionate care in our world. It de-emphasized the traditional stage-driven speaker model and focused more on creating environments for mutual learning and relationship-building.
At the time of the Idea Camp’s inception, I was heavily involved in conversations about humanitarian work, collaboration, and the Christian faith (my personal background). My hope was to create an environment that allowed for a diversity of voices, theologies, philosophies, and strategies to meet and converse about pressing concerns in our world. Regardless of one’s politics, gender, race, ethnicity, or even faith, I’ve always believed that some of the best creative insights come to life when one diverse people come together.
Call it naive, but it worked!
Over the span of 24 months, we facilitated seven Idea Camps around the country. Each Idea Camp focused on an important topic that we believed to be timely to engage including Being Present in the City, Sexuality & the Church, Justice & Compassion, Orphan Care, Leadership, Idea Implementation, Technology, and Collaboration. We were one of the first conferences to live stream our event, trend on Twitter, integrate social technology, and facilitate unique learning opportunities. But more than any of these things, we have been deeply encouraged by how many practitioners participated in our events and how many walked away with new friendships that are still going strong to this day.
It’s simply amazing to consider how many collaborative efforts have been birthed through the friendships found at the Idea Camp!
During our last Idea Camp in February 2011, I announced that we were going to stop our efforts because we sensed that many other faith conferences had picked up on our approach and had adopted the way we facilitated the gathering of people around their passions. We were completely satisfied with Idea Camp’s success and the kind of gathering it had modeled to others. (Yes, my original intent was to work myself out of a job!) I gave an open invite to anyone who wanted to talk our model and run with it in their own respective circles. I figured that we started with our tribe in mind so we had no problems with giving it away. Why not?! It was never about me or our team.
An Invitation to Re-Engage
Last Fall, I received an email from Mike Rusch of PureCharity asking if I would consider bringing Idea Camp back. My initial gut reaction was “No”. I had very little bandwidth and real desire to rekindle IC. Furthermore, financially, it just didn’t make sense. I had spent a lot of money on our previous gatherings because the nature of the event was to keep costs down or close to free so that anyone longing to be there could participate (probably not the best business model!). What kept me going all those years was my belief in contributing to a new tribe of people. Also, why restart something that had completed its initial mission?
Mike Talked. I Listened.
Mike, who is a trusted friend, shared about the conversations he was having with several others about the desire to bring Idea Camp back and facilitate a conversation around some important topics that were worth spending some intentional time around. He had mentioned a few things that many had felt were not being addressed at other events. Therefore, Idea Camp would be a good platform upon which to have such conversations. Mike offered to help lead the efforts with some others in handling the logistics and finances surrounding the event. One by one, he removed obstacles for our involvement. (Yup, he’s persuasive!) Finally, after some time of reflecting on it, I agreed to bring it back with Mike and his team.
IC Human Care
This September, the Idea Camp community will be reuniting to build on the foundation of past gatherings to focus on the complex realities of human care. Caring for others in a way that is dignifying, thoughtful, and impactful is not easy. Nevertheless, many are doing it well. We want to learn and share best practices. We believe that God’s work of compassionate justice invites us to engage thoughtful conversations that give birth to creative solutions, collaborative opportunities, and transformative impact. We think that we will be better off if we openly share and collaborate with one another.
In Austin on September 20-21, we will be facilitating honest and field-centered conversations with leading thinkers and practitioners about the work of human care as well as an introspective look into the soul and health of the one providing care to others. I’ve come across far to many people who are doing phenomenal work in human care while destroying their own personal lives. I want to believe that its possible to care for others while taking care of our own lives and relationships. Some of the conversations in Austin will be off-the-record and will lead to several opportunities for soul renewal.
We will also unpack how differences of gender, race, mental health, and age influence our approach to human care. We’ll keep our minds open if you will do the same. Our desire is to support those who seek to live life as God’s loving expressions of grace and hope to our world through tangible acts of care for all of humanity.
Our upcoming Idea Camp in Austin September 20-21, 2013 will be a life-shaping event. Will you join us?
*The Idea Camp is a different event from the Ideation Conference that we have been hosting the last few years. The Ideation Conference is not a faith-based event and centers around bringing together leading brands, companies, and non-profit organizations to share best practices in creating social good. We hope to relaunch the Ideation Conference in 2014.