Creating Events That Are Both Professionally and Personally Meaningful: Spark Camp

In order to break away from traditional event structures, Amanda Michel, Andy Pergam, Matt Thompson and Amy Webb decided to create an event of their own: Spark Camp.

“We envisioned Spark Camp as an intimate gathering of smart people who we could bring together around a central theme. But we didn’t want to create just another conference. Instead, we conceptualized working groups, where peers would come together in virtual spaces and in real life to identify critical problems around that theme and work together to identify and craft solutions for the greater good. We would spark projects and research together that would continue to pay dividends throughout the year and, hopefully, for many years to come.”

After putting together 5 sessions, the Spark Camp founders put together a list of 10 values they put into each of their events:

1) People are the key ingredients: Spark Camp goes for quality over quantity in their attendees and look to invite 70 people who will bring new ideas and innovation.
2) The more varied the group, the more valuable the connections and outcome: keeping this intimate group as diverse as possible ensures issues and solutions are evaluated in new and innovating ways
3) To foster a spirit of improvisation, create a comfortable environment: campers are able to connect with each other online before arriving and attend camp sessions in relaxing outdoor spaces.
4) Value discussion over presentation: instead of one-way speaker-driven conversations, debates and discussions ensure everyone is able to contribute to and expand each idea.
5) Each camp is a series of small and loosely-joined events: while each mini-event is connected through a common theme, by introducing and fully explaining each segment, the individual activities become more self-contained and purposeful.
6) We value intimacy over publicity: by keeping conversations private from social media, campers can feel more secure and confident in sharing their ideas.
7) Productive discussions happen more easily with thoughtful, informed facilitation: while campers are able to pitch ideas for sessions they want to attend, each one is facilitated by a camp organizer to ensure it runs smoothly and productively.
8) End – don’t start – with a trust fall: after building relationships throughout the camp, the closing session is a time for attendees to offer favours, ideas and resources to one another, now that they have formed connections with each other.
9) The better the planning, the smoother and more spontaneous the outcome: as much of the camp preparation as possible is done beforehand, so that the facilitators can spend more camp-time troubleshooting problems so that the event runs smoothly.
10) We value experimentation and evolution over perfection: each Spark Camp is designed as a unique experience, allowing the camp to grow and improve with each session.

If you want to learn more, check out Spark Camp’s Mastering the Art of Sparking Connections: How to Build an Event That Matters More.

Human behaviour has been a constant source of fascination for Adrienne. From university through each step of her career it’s been the common thread – first leading her to event and incentive management and ultimately to providing strategic consultation on employee productivity and business effectiveness. Adrienne knows from experience that collecting and distilling information is essential to generate insight. She views this process as a necessary discipline for all organizations seeking to elevate employee engagement and performance results. Adrienne is a sharp strategic thinker with a keen attention to detail. Her extensive expertise in employee engagement and corporate communications allows Adrienne to deliver strategic recommendations that energize businesses and generate results. Adrienne was the chief catalyst and founder of Dentsu Canada Inc’s Employee Engagement and Meetings & Events division. She has produced results for clients like Lexus, EMI Music Canada, City of Brampton, Toronto Hydro, Cognos Incorporated, National Bank of Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys, Computershare and UNICEF.

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