Last week I attended the SQL Saturday event in Orlando, the site of the original event in November 2007. I'll not forget that one because Andy scheduled me to be the last speaker of the day and in the back of my truck was all my hunting gear ready for a departure to north Florida after the event for a good couple days of deer hunting. My two sessions that day were two of the best I've done, which makes up for the very poor showing on the next day's deer hunting.
The idea for SQL Saturday originally grew out of the code camps. Florida was one of the first states to implement code camps as early as 2005 statewide. The code camps were great and us SQL guys had to settle for having a SQL leaning track at the code camps. I thoroughly enjoyed spending 2006 and 2007 traveling around the state to speak at these events, and I occasionally still do. Brian Knight, Joe Healy, and myself had discussions about putting on a 'data camp' as early as summer 2006 and I even called around to a few hotels to inquire about a meeting room to run the event in October 2006. Well, alas, talk is all it was and in the meantime Andy W. and crew came up the wonderful idea of SQL Saturday and the rest is history. I quickly gathered a group together in Tampa by teaming up with the wonderful and community oriented Pam Shaw and we ran SQL Saturday #2 in Tampa in February 2008. It was a fun event, tiring, and a little stressful, but the first few events led us to where the event is today. Matter of fact, I just signed up to speak at SQL Saturday #100.
There has been some discussion from event organizers wondering if this "code camp" thing is just a fad, and I can thoroughly say that it's not. It's really taken on a life of it's own and now there are code camps, SQL Saturday, Bar camps, Azure Camp, and soon to be Windows Phone camps. As camps split into more specialized areas there are some attendance drops but it also brings out new people who are interested in that particular technology. Techies always enjoy the free or low cost events to network and learn or relearn something, and the post parties certainly don't hurt either.
If you haven't been to one of these events yet, I encourage you to find out when the next one is coming to a city near you, or even better, get a group together and host one yourself. Information on SQL Saturday can be obtained by clicking here.