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I am keen on organizing a code retreat in my city. It's actually at my home with around 4-5 people. I have read some good inputs here, but I have some questions.

  • Should I think of some programming samples/puzzles or should it be a small proto/poc of an idea?
    Ex: Creating a twitter client, working with oData, etc.
  • Should all the people present there by aware of the programming language being selected? Or is it expected that they'll come there, browse the net and learn and code?
  • Should the end result be something that can be showcased/demoed or can it be some piece of code that we can forget about?
  • Time duration for the code retreat: Is one day good enough or should I keep it for two days? Will two days become overkill?
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 25 '11 at 15:03

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I'd suggest that people should be aware of language - they may have no interest or they may be more eager depending on what it is... –  Brian Jul 5 '11 at 9:57
    
You can start with a single day and plan for future 1 day events. We got a Code Retreat every 2 months here. –  Bart Jul 25 '11 at 17:45
    
Thanks Bart. I'll go ahead and plan for one and see how it goes. Pretty excited about it! –  hangar18 Jul 26 '11 at 13:00
    
I updated your post to say "code retreat" instead of "code camp". Code camp is something different. :) –  Anna Lear Jul 28 '11 at 13:41
    
didn't realize that:) Thanks Anna. –  hangar18 Jul 28 '11 at 14:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think puzzles might be fine but personally would prefer an actual, useable program to be 'deliverable' of the camp. At least personally, this makes it more interesting as you would be creating some value.

Some kind of knowledge of used technologies probably should be a requirement. If participant is not familiar with, say, a programming language used, she should at least understand the paradigms used (for instance, if person has no idea of functional programming, attending one or two day camp where Haskell is used and other attendees know the language, I suspect that learning curve is simply too steep). Then again, if I know Java, and the camp I attend uses C#, I would probably be comfortable even though I've never done a single line of C#.

I would prefer demoable end result. Again, creating something concrete that might have some kind of value outside the camp is more pleasing and motivating (to me, at least). If you will be coding throw-away code, coding will be less personal. I think code camps should be very personal. People should be committed, willing learn, teach others and produce something unexpected. Developing something of use should be more motivating, and it will be easier to reflect in retrospect how the whole experience was like.

One day might be enough if people are willing to put in whole day. I'm not talking about 8 hours here, more like 16h. Wouldn't mind doing two or even three days, but more than two would definitely require scheduled time off from keyboard. People tend to really focus on problem solving and learning during camps, and couple of days of just coding, with little rest will wear you.

In general, I would recommend planning/scheduling non-coding activities to get breaks from keyboard. This regardless of how long camp you're having.

Have a nice camp!

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Thank you so much for taking time out and putting your thoughts. I'll keep these inputs in mind and start planning for it now! Thanks again. –  hangar18 Jul 26 '11 at 13:03
    
I'm not sure if moving to programmers from SO has removed the bounty. I'll see if i can get some help on that –  hangar18 Jul 26 '11 at 13:25

Have you considered making a competitive challenge out of it ? Most of the code camps I attend to works best if people team up and work on separate projects or modules, and comparing their results in the end. No big prize is needed, just the glory of being the winner (or runner-up).

Here is a video from The 48 hour game dev challenge with Sid Meyer

Not the best results, but I like the structure of the event. You don't have to do it with such low time restrictions though, but it's interesting to see what people deliver when presented with tough challenges.

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I'll take this suggestion up as well along with @merryprankster. I'll think about alternating between having camps without a challenge and one with challenges. Probably one will be where we learn something and the other can be where we have a competition on it. Interesting inputs. Thank you. –  hangar18 Jul 26 '11 at 13:01

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