This is my recap of my experience at WordCamp Lancaster, held at VisionCorps in Lancaster, Pa. This WordCamp was quite different for me as I was a speaker. I previously attended WordCamp Baltimore in 2013 and I was just an attendee. My experience in Baltimore had me hooked. I knew that the worldwide WordPress community was robust and engaging, but I was completely blown away at the attitude of the attendees and speakers. If I could sum up the attitude of WordCamps it would be this: Open. Everyone I met in Baltimore was awesome…and again, I was hooked. When I discovered that there was talk about hosting a WordCamp in Central Pennsylvania, I knew I had to be a part of it.
In January in early 2014, I was at a Harrisburg WordPress User Group Meetup at CURE International. Our group’s organizer, Ryan Duff, had mentioned that there were some plans to organize a WordCamp in Lancaster. WordCamp area one or two day conferences all centered on WordPress in some way. Sessions are centered around design, development, business, social media, security, you name it they probably have someone who is passionate about discussing a topic that they know intimately. These conferences are unique in that they have something to offer everyone. The soul of these conferences is the community of people who love WordPress.
I met with my colleagues at PAFP and suggested that we give a presentation on how we’ve used WordPress for an enterprise project, our PAFP Community. I got the idea from a session I attended in Baltimore. The presentation was by Pongos Interactive and Kerry Mickelson of the American Geophysical Union. Their talk was on how they used WordPress as their CMS of choice for the AGU. They discussed that open source makes sense for the business world, as the needs of business can be met with ever developing technology that is sourced from around the world. Their use of BuddyPress for their digital communities paralleled what we achieved with the PAFP Community, and this was the impetus for us speak at WordCamp; to share what we’ve done with WordPress and BuddyPress in the world of primary care.
March 1st, 2014 rolled around quick. I had just come off working the 2014 Ten State Conference at Hotel Hershey the weekend prior and in the midst of preparing for presentation; we had just launched the new issue of Keystone Physician and finalized all of the materials for the Hershey CME Conference and Annual Business Meeting (Which, at the time of this posting, I’m actually at). We prepared our talk and headed to Lancaster. I was floored when I heard they had 140 attendees present which both excited me and made me feel even more nervous. You can view our presentation below this post.
After our presentation, a veritable wave of relief washed over me and I felt connected to a wider community. I listen to a lot of WordPress podcasts, Matt Report in particular, and watch the recorded sessions on wordpress.tv. I attend meetups and listen to developers who contribute to core and write their own powerful plugins. My relationship with these people has felt like I’m the student and they are the teacher. After WordCamp Lancaster, I feel like I have graduated. Thank you to George Stephanis for organizing the first WordCamp Lancaster, you did an amazing job. Everyone who helped this conference a reality, thank you. For all of the attendees who came from near and far, thank you for making this happen. Thanks to PAFP and my colleagues for everything.