Are you ready for City Camp Chelmsford?

book now buttonChelmsford’s first City Camp is fast approaching and although our Friday afternoon slot will give you an insight into what’s in store on Saturday September 8th, we thought we’d explain the basics of what you can expect.

This is an unconference

unconferences are the opposite of a traditional conference

unconferences are the opposite of a traditional conference

There is no agenda. Attendees determine the agenda and it is whatever you want to discuss that counts on the day. There are three essential ingredients to an enjoyable CityCamp.  The first is a plentiful supply of tea or coffee. The second is free WiFi. The most important part though is you and your ideas, enthusiasm, skills and desires for Chelmsford.

Share, share and share again #cccfd

You will get as much free WiFi as you can handle and its important because you not only set the agenda but you also record the minutes too! In an unconference, this is achieved by the participants.  You could Tweet, email, blog, Facebook, record audio or video, take notes, write on huge sheets of paper or post-it notes – whatever you like.  We’ll bring it all together during and afterwards so everyone gets to see the combined outcomes. If you like a ‘tweet’, the hashtag for the event will be #cccfd. Tag all your tweets with this hashtag and it will make it much easier for everyone to keep up with the conversations as they happen throughout the day.


We start off all together in a large lecture theatre. Many of us won’t know each other before we start so its good to get acquainted. It is traditional at a City Camp to go around the room saying your name, where you’re from and give 3-words which sum up your expectations of the day. Typical words often include things like ‘engage’, ‘learn’, ‘curiosity’, ‘collaborate’, ‘share’, ‘e-learning’, ‘communicate’, ‘tools’ and ‘help’. Specific words which could crop up in Chelmsford may include ‘Marconi’, ‘city centre’, ‘shops’, ‘police’, ‘neighbourhoods’, ‘planning’, ‘youth’ . . .  you get the picture.

Often people combine their three words into a statement like these:

  • understanding community needs
  • steal good ideas
  • picking people’s brains
  • looking for inspiration
  • get here earlier
  • here for cake

You can watch a video on YouTube from a camp which was run in April 2012 called ‘BlueLightCamp’ and which records all the introductions by the people who attended.

Pitching an idea

We haven’t got an agenda so we create it. This is done by people who propose their idea, concept or topic they would like to discuss. You can pitch more than one thing if you like but you’ll only get 30 seconds. Someone will record all the ideas and we’ll keep going until everyone who wants to has spoken. When everyone has finished, we’ll arrange the ideas into a grid rather like this one from the BlueLightCamp:

BlueLightCamp - matrix

Or this one from CityCamp Brighton . . .

Matrix of sessions at CityCamp Brighton

Matrix of sessions at CityCamp Brighton

As you can see, there are time slots in a number of breakout rooms. The idea is that we have a number of simultaneous conversations going on at the same time in different rooms.  This is why its important we share what we’re doing so everyone can catch up with the conversations, even if they were unable to attend all the discussions.

You can watch the pitching session from BlueLightCamp on YouTube as well.

Breakout rooms

A typical unconference session in full swingNext comes the main purpose of the day – to choose topics which interest you, find the room and join in.  Nobody is being paid to be here and we’re doing this on the weekend so everyone deserves to take an active part in discussions, be listened to and above all, enjoy the experience.  With this in mind, the first rule is ‘The Rule of Two Feet’. If the discussion you’ve chosen isn’t what you expected, it doesn’t interest you, you’ve contributed as much as you can, you don’t feel you can contribute or you’re simply bored you just get up and go and find one of the other discussions instead. It is normal at a City Camp or ‘unconference’ for people to get up, move on and arrive halfway through.


A typical unconference lunch sessionLunchtime is a great opportunity to network, continue conversations, exchange contact details or have a stroll along the river path.  Who knows – you may even have time for a quick bite to eat as well! We can’t run to a free lunch but there will be food available on the premises and from nearby shops. You could bring your own if you like. The learning and teaching facilities at Anglia Ruskin University are amazing and if you haven’t had a look around before, this is a great opportunity to.

End of the day

After more break-out sessions in the afternoon, we’ll gather together in the lecture theatre once again to have a brief round-up of the day. There are prizes and money up for grabs for the ideas so we’ll need to gather in the outcomes of the day in the form of a very brief and informal 2 minute ’round-up’ for each discussion. After the event, all the ideas presented will be put forward into the where three will be shortlisted and put to the public vote to be in with the chance to win up to £1,000. Anyone can vote on their website and voting closes at the end of September. In addition to the Grand Award, we’ll also have some resources to support other ideas. More details on that to be revealed later.

It doesn’t have to end there!

It would be a shame to leave it there so why not carry on into the evening? Chelmsford has loads of great places to eat and drink so we’ll suggest a few places we know where you can socialise and continue to chat about Chelmsford if you like.

Ideas Festival

The winning idea will be formerly announced during the appropriately named Changing Chelmsford ‘Ideas Festival’ which takes place between October 13th – October 20th 2012. Winners will be notified in advance and be invited to attend Anglia Ruskin University on Tuesday 16th October to receive the prizes. Of course, everyone who attended CityCamp is very welcome to this event where you can find out who won and how the winning project will be taken forward.


About David White

Web Manager for Essex Police
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