I was handed an eye mask and ear plugs as I boarded the red eye flight towards JFK. I've never flown a red eye before but besides the turbulent moments, I was able to sleep the entire way and wake up in the city. #winning. I love New York! I am totally that tourist who gladly sports the I <3 NY shirt, although this time I would hardly spend any time in the city. Instead my time would be spent two hours north by bus, in Catskills, for my second Rails Camp.
Rails Camp has easily become one of my favorite events to attend. I didn't think I was going to make it this year, but I'm grateful to those who made it possible for me. Because of it's size, it's a quite intimate event that builds the community and I would encourage everyone to experience it at least once. It was great to meet others of way more experience than me, and see some familiar faces, but this time I also met a few just starting their journeys too. It was an interesting feeling for the tables to switch, with me sharing my experience and giving advice to a beginner. Pay it forward! Last camp I barely knew anything. This camp I was working on my final project consisting of an Angular front end and Rails backend! Next camp I hope to attend as a professional programmer!
I also love the fact that there are camps EVERYWHERE. If I had the means I would totally check out the one in Scotland! But the next one in the USA will be in Stanely, Idaho which looks absolutely incredible as well!
I could honestly tell you, especially as someone who doesn't identify herself as a "camper" or outdoorsy-type, I would have never camped out at Catskills, NY, or Stanislaus Forest, CA, had it not been for Rails Camp. Though allow me to clarify that both camps provided cabin-like lodging with hot showers, toilets, and prepared meals! Think summer camp for adults. Both experiences allowed me to appreciate nature, make new friends, and realize that it's OK to step outside of my bubble. Not only is it OK, but it's absolutely necessary.
Rails Camp is a place where you can come as you are and be accepted. Never have I ever felt unwanted, or uncomfortable, even though I tend to be on the shy/introvert side of the spectrum. It's a welcoming environment that supports and encourages diversity. There is usually a special (discounted) ticket price reserved to do so. If you want to hack on a project, or dare I say actually work... you can. If you prefer to drink (BYOB) and leave all your work/computers/tech gadgets/worries behind... you can! Want to go hiking, canoeing, sing your heart out over karaoke, learn how to blacksmith, or sweat it out in the sauna? ... You can! (Well, at Rails Camp East 2016 that is). This time I chose to spend majority of my time working on my final project, but I also took some breaks to say Hi to Lucy (the goat who think she's a cat), get (unintentionally) lost in the woods , feel the warmth of the campfire, learn about blacksmithing, and attend a few talks (which are all given on an informal volunteer basis)! There are also opportunities to identify yourself as a job seeker and connect with those who are hiring. And I'm most grateful to those I've met who've been willing to mentor me and/or assist in a code review. (Thank you).
My one and only regret this time is not taking home the jar of Vegemite, a newfound love of mine.