This past Sunday-Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual That Conference in Wisconsin Dells, WI. That Conference is billed as “Summer Camp for Geeks” and truth be told, it’s one of the coolest conferences I’ve ever been to (in any capacity… anime cons, sorority conventions, various professional conventions…).
As with most developer conferences, That Conference’s official main draw is a plethora of workshops geared towards a variety of different areas of professional development for developers. These range from straight language-specific sessions where you can learn to achieve a particular functionality, to soft skill classes where you can hear a talk on how to grow your online presence and following.
All of the sessions picked for That Conference seemed to be modern and awesome, and I’ll admit, I had a tough time picking a few to try and attend in my breaks from manning the Infragistics Booth (more on that later!). However, the poignancy of the sessions, in my opinion, wasn’t the best thing about That Conference.
Neither was the bacon bar.
(Though, c’mon, who doesn’t LOVE the Bacon Bar!?)
In my opinion, the best thing about That Conference was the family programming. Yes. You heard me. Family Programming. That Conference had an entire track of programming geared towards whose who they refer to as “Geeklings,” or the under 19 crowd who attended the conference. From trips to the wildlife park in the Kalahari, to sessions on building and programming their own robots, to, in my opinion, the coolest family programming, a youth-lead Open Spaces talk on Scratch (y’all know I love me some Scratch!), That Conference is leading the way in bringing families together through geekified learning… and I couldn’t be more impressed.
We talk so much about how we’ve got such a need for great programmers and engineers in the US and worldwide, but what are we really doing to foster an inquisitive nature in our youth? I feel like That Conference is pioneering a space for families to get together and do just that… young boys, young girls, even spouses were immersed in their one family member’s world for a week in the summer, and everyone was treated equally and encouraged to learn and grow.
So in addition to running a top notch conference for professionals in the developer field, carving out a great engagement zone for sponsors to interact with the attendees, catering AWESOME pork-laden meals…. the organizers of That Conference are taking it a step farther in their vision. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they do next!
Oh… right! I rocked out at our Sponsor booth this week too! Check out the awesome SWAG Brent and I rocked at Infragistics' Platinum spot:
If I met you and promised you could ask me something, please feel free to email or tweet at me anytime (@DokiDara) ! It was a pleasure to meet you all. :)
By Dara Monasch
P.S. Keep an eye out because another highlight from That Conference was the She++ screening! I’m hoping to write up something from there, so stay tuned!