Although Source Camps appear really laid-back, they take a tremendous amount of planning and hard work. This section includes templates that will be helpful for the various planning processes and activities that take place leading up to a Camp; from forming an advisory group and announcing the Camp to getting participants there.
Holding a Source Camp requires a lot of planning, and takes between 8 months and 1.5 years. The more attention paid to each detail, the better the experience for everyone involved. Planning often requires some travel for meetings with partners and finding a venue. These costs are not included in the main event budget, but are important financial and human resources inputs that need to be considered. Finalising the date, times, location and participant costs as early as possible is essential for maximising the time for pre-production planning. When picking dates, be mindful of potential clashes with other events, the weather and local holidays.
- The Work Plan lists the various actions that need to be carried out from pre- to post-production.
First steps / working group
The first conversations about a new Source Camp usually happen many months before the actual planning starts and sometimes years before the Camp. Usually the start is made by a small working group that involves Tactical Tech, some of our long-term collaborators, and typically someone with an interest in a certain region. This group starts drafting the concept paper (see below), puts together a rough outline of the programme (see Running the Programme), and thinks about potential funders / local partners and venues. As the planning progresses, some of the initial working group members become "real" local partners and others step back and hand over some of the responsibilities to the Advisory Group (see below). However it is the initial creativity, expertise and enthusiasm of the working group that provides the groundwork from which Source Events then grow.
Articulating the overall objectives and vision of the event is important for all involved. The concept paper is a source document for recruiting participants and facilitators, as well as for fundraising and marketing. It can help guide the conceptual design of the event and should be created as early as possible - and updated as needed.
- For more detailed guidelines for writing good concept papers, including an outline of the key sections and examples from previous Source Events, see Concept Paper.
The advisory group helps to guide the goals, form and content of the Source Camp, and is usually made up of leading regional professionals working in the non-profit technology space. The advisory group helps the organisers to increase outreach to various parts of the region and individual sectors. They raise awareness of the event and provide feedback on major conceptual and content-based decisions, raise concerns and make suggestions as the events take shape. The members of the advisory group assist in the participant selection process and help to compile the agenda of the event. Communication with and between the advisory group is usually handled through a separate mailing list.
In the past, it has made sense to retain a small number of advisory group members between events, in order to ensure continuity. New members are invited to diversify input and warrant regional representation.
The best way to see what kinds of individuals make sense as advisory group members, have a look at examples from previous events or contact us directly (see Collaborate With Us page for details) for more information:
Good facilitators are crucial to the success of Source Camps. In fact they are so important that they get a whole page for themselves. Please read the page Facilitation Source Camp-Style for the approach on learning and teaching that makes Source Camps so special. In terms of planning, facilitators should arrive at least 1 day before the camp starts to prepare for their sessions and help set-up the camp.
Tactical Tech has a network of experienced facilitators that we have worked with on previous camps. Please have a look at the Collaborate With Us page and contact us if this is an area where you would like assistance.
Source Camps are usually organised collaboratively by a small number of organisations. Generally, it is best to form partnerships with organisations that share a history of working on the ground, to promote and realise the use of new technologies within the non-profit sector. A good mix of partners usually ensures fusion of diverse experiences, perspectives, skills and regional contacts, as well as complimentary expertise and interests.
Previous Source Camps usually relied on a two types of partners who worked closely with Tactical Technology Collective:
- Content partners - These are usually organisations with significant presence as networks or non-profit organisations working with or advocating the use of technology. It is with these partners that an event is usually conceptualised, and they most often participate in and suggest other members for the advisory group.
- Organising partners - These are the implementers, who do all the work on the ground. They help with production and logistics, and run the venue and workshop on the site.
Click on the links to view the partner organisations that held previous Source Camps:
Finding good partners is crucial, and considerable time should be spent up front to ensure that the relationships work. Some of the characteristics that previous local implementers (partners) who organised Source Camps have had are listed below. This is not to say that if your organisation does not have these characteristics, you cannot host a Source Camp, but it provides some guidelines for the skills and expertise that is required. In a way, collaborations are like friendships and it is just as difficult to describe what makes a good partner organisation, as it is to answer how one chooses friends.
- Experience and recognition in the technology/civil society area
- Networking experience and proven ability to work with partners and in teams
- Sufficient organisational capacities to handle such an event
- Ability to actively shape the event and its agenda, and contribute to the planning process
- Ability to fundraise
A few guidelines can make it easier to develop good partnerships:
- Spend time building a trusting relationship. This can best be done in face-to-face meetings.
- Be rigid in joint planning and define and assign responsibilities in as much detail as possible.
- Draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to capture the agreed expectations and roles.
- Take into account cultural differences, and understand that the environment shapes business customs, etc.
- Please see the Collaborate With Us page for more detail regarding the Tactical Technology Collective's support of organisations implementing a Source event.
Fundraising and budgets
Source Camps require a significant amount of funding. Potential funding sources differ from country to country, and the required amount depends on the size and scope of the events. Local, national and regional events all have very different requirements -- from the number of foreign facilitators to the number of participants needing funding. Depending on the type of event, it may be an option to charge some attendees towards covering costs. In addition, the topics that the event covers will influence which organisations are potential funders. Budgets should be continually refined as real costs become apparent and expenses start running up (e.g. as participants are confirmed and travel costs finalised).
Most participants require sponsored travel to and from the venue, and this can on average make up 65% of the overall event budget. See Travel Cost Estimations for some thoughts on how to estimate travel costs. Also see Travel Reimbursement for guidelines on handling payment for transport: Generally, participants are expected to book and pay for their travel and are reimbursed during or after the camp.
Approaching funders can be difficult, especially if running a Source camp is something your organisation has not done in the past. Some of the organisations we have worked with to realise Source events are listed below. Please contact us (see Collaborate With Us page for details) if you would like to get more help / input in how to attract funding for a Source event.
Some of the funding organisations of previous Source events:
- Open Society Institute Information Programme (http://www.soros.org)
- IDRC The International Development Research Centre (http://www.idrc.ca)
- Hivos (http://www.hivos.nl)
- InWEnT (http://www.inwent.org/index.en.shtml)
- Funding Guidelines does not provide general funding advice, but rather lists considerations and lessons learned regarding fundraising and reporting to funders.
- Budgets And Budgeting lists tips for compiling, adjusting and tracking budgets.
- Travel Cost Estimations provides some useful hints on estimating costs.
- Travel Reimbursement describes the process of refunding transport costs.
Finding the right venue is important. Source Camps are usually held in remote locations, which help foster a feeling of community and ensure a unique experience. Participants spend a week in relative isolation, focusing on sharing knowledge, and forming relationships. The venues are intentionally chosen away from cities, to limit distractions (and opportunities to be distracted) and make sure that participants can spend the whole week focusing on sharing knowledge, building expertise and creating a community.
Besides the location, the choice of venue will depend largely upon the amount of participants, facilitators and organisers. It is best for a group of organisers to visit the site before finalising the venue. Ideally, you will need a meeting space that offers a large room where the group can meet as a whole, as well as "break-out" spaces, where smaller groups can have discussions and collaborate. Possibilities for outings should also be investigated.
Other thoughts / considerations that can help create the right atmosphere:
- Provide shared accomodation to encourage mingling
- Separate spaces for men and women are often needed to respect cultures/traditions/backgrounds
- Make sure there is no access to telephone, tv or other media in bedrooms (including Internet access unless the wireless reaches)
- Smoking is forbidden everywhere except a few small spots, which are not close to the community areas
- Choose attractive and relaxing settings and surroundings (e.g. sea, lake, mountains)
- Make sure you can get sufficient Internet access (be it via phone line, wireless, vsat etc)
- Find a place that is sufficiently remote, but remains relatively near to a town or city so that you can get supplies. An estimated one-hour drive is advised
- Avoid locations where weather can be unpleasant. Warm and possibly sunny weather is highly recommended - unless the event is specifically planned as a winter Camp
The easist way to get a feeling for the kind of venues that work well is to look at some of the locations where previous Camps were held:
- Asia Source was held at Visthar, a support and training organisation for the voluntary sector and a small artists' community on the outskirts of Bangalore.
- Africa Source was held at the NIED eduational center, located in a quiet and relaxed suburb of Okahandja, Namibia.
- Summer Source was held in ex-Yugoslavian army barracks on the beautiful island of Vis, three hours off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.
- Africa Source 2 was held at Pearl Gardens beach on Buggala Island on Lake Victoria, Uganda.
- The pages Camp Layout and Camp Life and Logistics describe the different areas and facilities in more detail. They are meant as support during set-up of the camp and running the workshop, but they contain useful info to read before choosing a venue.
Food (not only for thought)
(Good) food is important. Find caterers that offer a variety of local and international meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and make sure they can support the peak demands without causing delays to the schedule. Don't understimate the challenge of feeding 150 people quickly. Make very clear appointments with the kitchen so that food is served on time not to delay the schedule of the programme.
Make sure you are able to address special dietary requests, due to religious, medical, ethical preference or because people simply prefer certain kinds of food.
When serving vegetarian food make sure it is well prepared and spiced, many catering companies are struggling to provide nice vegetarian dishes.
The logistics of providing food are quite significant. Usually buffet style is the only option for the amount of participants at Source Events. However, even then there should be a number of queues to avoid bottlenecks.
Especially if camps are located in hot climates, make sure that there is sufficient drinking water (bottled/purified) available at all times. 150 people drink a lot of water each day.
and Wine (Alcohol)
Define clear rules for the use of alcohol at the camp, based on the characteristics of your participants. There is no one size fits all solution, but in the past, source camps have catered for the consumption of beer (no spirits) in certain areas of the camp. A few drinks around the camp fire can be fun, but public drunkenness is frowned upon.
Announcing the event and other marketing
Developing a Media Outreach Plan is a useful way to coordinate the announcement of the event and various other marketing activities. Some of the key milestones:
- Announce the Source Camp at least 6 months prior to the event.
- Send out specific invitations to potential participants and facilitators.
- Choose a name for the Camp and develop a logo.
- Establish a website/wiki as soon as possible. It should clearly describe the Camp's key objectives and concept, the venue, travel options, visa requirements, health considerations, and include reference links, the concept paper, draft programme, application form, and FAQ.
- Post announcements to relevant electronic discussion lists and newsletters, and regional publications/online resources concerned with civil society and/or technology.
- A reminder announcement should be sent 2.5 months ahead of the event (one month prior to the application deadline).
- Press coverage during the event is also important, and journalists should be invited to visit the Camp.
Researching travel, visa and health issues and requirements related to the location is an important first step. The next is the compilation of application forms. The deadline for receiving application forms should be about 2 months before the event. The advisory group needs to prepare for the application review.
- See Application Process for guidelines on the selection procedures, including example application forms from previous Source Camps.
- See Travel Reimbursement for more information on handling travel as part of the application process. Applicants are generally expected to book their own transport and are reimbursed during or after the camp.
Once the application process has been completed, the website should be updated with a list of participants.
Health and insurance issues
While - hopefully - these problems never occur, it is important to communicate clearly with participants that the organisers cannot be held liable for any health issues or theft / broken equipment. Source Camps are in rural areas and not 5 star hotels and participants are expected to prepare and behave accordingly.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Advise participants on potential health risks and how to prepare for them:
- Malaria prevention and medication
- Any vaccinations that are required or advisable
- If participants have allergies or other health problems, these need to be known and understood
- Clearly describe the facilities so that participants know what to expect:
- There might not be warm water
- If participants are pregnant or have special requirements regarding facilities, make sure to take this into account