Told you we'd do it....

So, after some months of preparation, hundreds of emails and phone calls, several hectic days nights of organisation and a about seven hours of sustained awesome, Skepticamp Sydney is over.

I said we'd do it, didn't I?

Yes, Australia's first skepticamp* was a success. In fact, a triumph.

It took place from 11:00am on 30th April, at UTS in Sydney, and attracted somewhere in the region of 100 keen skeptical attendees, some of whom were attending their first skeptical event, and some of whom were speaking in front of a crowd on a chosen topic for the first time. In fact, the level of attendee engagement seriously impressed me.

I myself happen to be a mouthy clown who will hold forth to a crowd of people at the drop of a hat, as are more than one of the other unorganisers, but I can appreciate how daunting a first talk can be. Skepticamp, though, was the perfect place to get up and talk. A friendly audience, who wish to engage, get involved and discuss, who are just happy to be there and get involved.

The *camp format (BarCamp, Skepticamp, etc) is a fantastic way to run a conference, and take it from me I'll be evangelising it hard in the lead-up to the next two Skepticamp Australia events: Skepticamp Melbourne and Skepticamp Canberra, both of which are now in the early stages of organisation with firm hands at the helm and a fire in the belly.

I'll be talking to Sydney Skeptics in the pub this Thursday 5th May on the topic of Skepticamp, in both the abstract and the tangible, and would absolutely love feedback, either positive or negative, that we can use to make Skepticamp Australia's next events an even more resounding success than Sydney was. I'll be talking to Vic Skeptics in the cafe on June 20th, which will be a hybrid talk on online activism and skepticamp, under the provisional title of "emergence in grassroots activism". The talk needs some fine tuning. And on the following day, Dave The Happy Singer and I will be gigging at the Clyde Hotel in Carlton, half Happy Singer, half In Vino Veritas Live Podcast.

The inevitable gushing thanks and praise now follow herein:

To the small ragtag army of volunteer unorganisers, including Dave The Happy Singer who co-hosted, Ruth Ellison and Lauren Cochrane who rocked up from Canberra and immediately hit the ground running, Esther Trenowden for organising money, name badges, catering and general awesomes, Carol and Miranda Calderwood & Mo Chuck for support, enthusiasm and an entire day watching the registration table, Bob Lloyd for Tea, Coffee and Tom Waits songs, Alan Conradi and Rachel Macalpine for being Alan and Rachel, Robin Hilliard for not only forking over cash but for driving tables around and giving a great talk on aeronautics, Jasmine Marosvary for the video and the tiger ears, Kate Alway for helping with the venue, Bea Bowditch & Bronwyn Pinchbeck for CupCakeCamp, Linda Gehard for printing, Geoff Cowan for photos (and a donation which landed $200 towards Melbourne) and Peter Bowditch for CupCakeCamp prizes, two talks and some great ratbaggery.

To all the attendees and especially to those that spoke, or asked questions, or gave feedback, or lugged tables or just turned up and added to the atmosphere. And to those who threw money in the jar, you've helped set future events on a steady footing.

To Robin Hilliard for trusting some scruffy idiot on a TAMOZ panel and throwing in $50, and everyone else who then followed suit (including Travis Roy who threw in the very first $2 even before Robin)

To Reed Esau and co for the original idea, and to Fred Bremer and Jamie Williams for implanting the idea while at TAM, and Dave The Happy Singer who I believe first mentioned it to me after Briskepticon '09.

To all the brilliant sponsors: Australian Skeptics,, Skepticator***, NeeDeepInDesign, Token Skeptic, The UTS Atheists' Society and Western Sydney Freethinkers. Between these seven, and with attendee donations we raised enough to provide lunch, provide name badges, t-shirts for unorganisers, some free soft drinks and a few hundred bucks worth of bar tab for the aftercamp drinks. Australian Skeptics deserve great praise for having sufficient cojones to fork over about half the total funds for what was essentially an untried event. The faith demonstrated by all the sponsors was awesome, and I don't use that "f" word lightly.

To UTS Students' Association for helping with an excellent venue

To Linley Kissick, Kieran Dennis, Lucas Randall and Chris Higgins, who drove up from Melbourne as attendees and drove back as unorganisers for Melbourne 2011.

 And lastly, to Harry Kenwell, your new, improved god.

Cheers, and see you in Melbourne. And Canberra. And back in Sydney next year.

* Skepticator Live, an open mic night held before TAM Oz, was nicknamed by some "Australia's First Skepticamp". It wasn't, but I like the honorary status. Western Sydney Freethinkers also ran a "one minute skepticamp" in the leadup to the Sydney event. So was this really Australia's first Skepticamp?**

** yes, it was.

*** thanking myself? Well... yeah!

posted @ Tuesday, May 3, 2011 1:03 AM


Comments on this entry:

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by mochuck at 5/3/2011 1:13 AM
A great day and well done to Jason and Esther for all their hard work. As identified on the wiki page a few areas that need to be improved on - but hey it was the first one and a learning experience

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by Kieran at 5/3/2011 1:16 AM
Has anybody put their hand up for a Brisbane event?

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by jason at 5/3/2011 1:25 AM

nobody's formally done it. volunteering?

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by Lucas Randall at 5/3/2011 1:53 AM
Jason, you've started something which I believe will become an accessible rally-point for skeptics in all major cities, and a mainstay of the skeptical calendar.

Thank you, and all the unOrganisers, for delivering an unforgettable SkeptiCamp premier, and setting the bar for future events to reach and improve upon!

Lucas Randall

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by Kieran at 5/3/2011 7:12 AM
Why not. Do we even have a group up here?

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by jason at 5/3/2011 11:26 AM

no problem, but I have to stress it's not just me. I just happened to have the biggest mouth and a microphone at the right time ;-)


There are a couple of grops. There's a gold coast skeptics and a brisbane skeptics

There's also a few active groups further up the coast who might be on for travel.

Also Brisbane Atheists

and I think there's a uni group or two. If you're on for it, come jhoin the unorgainsers google group and we'll get some things moving

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by Reed Esau at 5/3/2011 1:33 PM
Thanks Jason! If my little idea of bringing open events to skepticism provides value to Australian skeptics, it'll have been honor to have been part of that effort.

@Kieran - Groups/Meetups can help, but they aren't essential. At worse they are a barrier (due to politics, etc.) All you need are 2-3 interested parties to start the ball rolling to put your first event together.

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by Jason at 5/3/2011 1:51 PM
Life is fun

Kieran, I forgot you were already in the organisers group. I've started a thread, and I'm asking DTHS and @purplefae to assist with Brisbane skeptical peeps if they can. Check the thread and don't forget, grab me if you need anything at all.

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by Bob at 5/3/2011 2:19 PM
Was an awesome day and I'm proud to have been an unorganiser. I intend to make it to all future skepticamps, though i dont know how much help i will be for unorganising if they are interstate.

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by arthwollipot at 5/3/2011 7:38 PM
Wait, who's organising the Canberra event? Is it me?

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by jason at 5/3/2011 10:46 PM

Ruth Ellison and Lozz Cochrane put their hands up for skepticamp canberra. There are exciting implications in the way they're doing it, if I were you I'd grab them and get in discussions ASAP. Suffice to say the loss of the science festival has left a pathway we may be able to exploit.

Are you on the google group?

# re: Told you we'd do it....

Left by shellity at 5/4/2011 4:41 PM
Everyone above: you are awesome. Hope I can make it to Melbourne or Canberra!
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