WordCamps are local/regional/international get-togethers where designers, developers and users meet to share their knowledge. Sure, lots of different software platforms, etc. have their own dedicated conferences. But attending a WordCamp is really not the same as attending a traditional conference.
First of all, attending a WordCamp in your area is fairly cheap compared to other conferences, with tickets usually around $20 USD. For that, you’ll get a day packed full of learning opportunities, a chance to meet like-minded devs, and a pretty cool t-shirt. How many other events offer all of that value for just $20?
Sometimes, traditional conferences can feel a bit formal and stuffy. WordCamp is nothing like that. There are a lot of creative people in attendance and everyone is encouraged to relax and be themselves. No need to wear a suit or evening gown. In 2012, I spoke at WordCamp Baltimore wearing jeans and a WordPress t-shirt. It felt right at home.
Another important contrast compared to other conferences is that you don’t need to be a WordPress expert to be welcomed and accepted at a WordCamp. In fact, most camps have tracks specifically for users that have little or no experience of WordPress. They are great for getting your questions answered and for learning the basics of the platform.
If you are an advanced designer or developer, there are sessions geared towards helping you learn how to take advantage of the latest and most powerful features from WordPress. I can personally attest to having gained knowledge on many important subjects such as security, custom post types, responsive design and version control. Many sessions will whet your appetite for knowledge and provide a great starting point on your quest to gaining new skills.
WordCamp sessions provide you with not only a diverse subject matter, but a diverse group of presenters as well. You’ll have the chance to learn from expert coders, designers, bloggers, marketers, and quite often, a lead session with someone that contributes to the WordPress Core. Here is Matt Mullenweg speaking at this years San Francisco WordCamp:
That learning diversity is a beautiful thing. Listening and interacting with speakers from different backgrounds, varied specialties and experience levels can have such a positive effect on your own skill-set that it leads you to think outside of your comfort zone and push your WP knowledge ever-further.
Last but not least, you are bound to meet some very cool people who share a passion for their work. You might gain some new friendships and resources for learning even more about your favorite CMS.
Is there a Wordcamp near you? Chances are there will be. You can check the Wordcamp schedule here.