Last month, WebDevStudios hosted our annual WDS Camp. This gathering is one of the few chances the whole company can get together in person. While there are many advantages to being a distributed company, it is nice to see people face-to-face. Talking on Slack all day is great, don’t get me wrong, but being able to see everyone away from their computer gives you a whole new perspective on the crew.
Every year, a new location is chosen for camp. This year it was none other than Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania. Lake Harmony was the most beautiful backdrop. Being in the Pocono Mountains during fall creates ambiance and reminds you of how precious it is to have time together. There were a million laughs exchanged, a million ideas vocalized, and a renewed sense of optimism for the future of the company. On the flip side, there were secret passages, possible hauntings, and environments that could be out of an indie horror film. That’s the joy of the Poconos. It’s frozen in time in the most perfect way.
As planes flew overhead and cars were fueled to the max, the employees of WebDevStudios gathered together to laugh, plan, and strategize for the exciting things that are coming in the next year. The question you may be wondering is, what happens when almost 40 remote workers gather together in the mountains for one week? Well, I can tell you that it is not only entertaining, but it’s also life-affirming.
The first thing you should know is that organizing an event of this scope and handling travel logistics for this many people is a monstrous challenge. Shout out to the Execs and April for making sure everyone arrived safely and had a comfy bed at night. Additionally, thank you for bringing this group together.
The first couple of days were reserved for our leads team so that they could prepare and develop systems around workflow for the company. More importantly, we had the opportunity to witness an 80s cover band, that simply cannot be missed, called Kartune. Visualize a bar with flowing beer, endless Jӓger shots, and a moose mounted to the wall. The crowd was ready to party. The parking lot was full of Camaros. Poison and Beastie Boys blared from the microphone. The crowd danced and we knew we found our home for the week.
By Monday, the rest of the team arrived and we were thrilled to see them. Hugs were exchanged and hellos were said, but it was time to get to work. Throughout the week, various sessions were held to prepare the team for new technologies and the projects that would be coming up over the next few months. The team gathered in small groups to discuss their plans of how they were going to get even better. It was more than bonding; it was about building strength. Granted it was strength fueled by endless pots of coffee and candy, but we were unstoppable.
During this time, each member had the opportunity to present an Ignite-style talk on the topic of their choice. The topics were as varied as the personalities. From downsizing your home to driving Uber to Elasticsearch to British slang, the crew covered a variety of subject matters. When people get to talk about something near and dear to them, it really gives you insight to the brilliant and eager minds that make up our team.
There were also group activities. Beating one another to the omelet station and introducing people to the wonders of Wawa quickly became some of the favorites. We also played mini golf, bowling, and billiards. Each night there was a champion, and each time we were quick to recognize the hustlers. (I’m looking at you, Cristina, and neglecting to mention you are in bowling league.)
We even created a new nightspot called “Mama Birds.” It started simply as a banquet room in the resort, but it quickly turned into the hottest nightspot in Lake Harmony. Here, we played board games and created many new cocktails. Some of them we would probably not want to revisit, but others will no doubt become part of the yearly tradition. We found a new team member, too – Tony, the WDS Chef of our dreams. Actually, Tony was in charge of our catering for the week, but he instantly became part of our family. If you are ever at Split Rock, find Tony and treat him with the respect he deserves.
On Thursday we celebrated WDS Thanksgiving, which included 15 gobblers from Wawa and a Carvel Fudgy the Whale cake. If you don’t know what these two things are, head to Google immediately and hop a flight to North East Pennsylvania to try them for yourself. Also, if you’re looking for suggestions for Thanksgiving dinner, we highly recommend this menu. I mean, how could you not be grateful for stuffing, turkey, and cranberry sauce on a roll?
I guess it’s time to mention that some people did fall ill during this trip. There was an accidental issue with some salami that went awry but luckily we picked ourselves up by the bootstraps, no pun intended, and kept developing magic.
In more serious news, we had the chance to hear the Execs give the state of WDS. To see where we were last year and measure how far we’ve come was simply inspirational. The company has grown and our team is strong. It was evident when we got to see Brian, Brad, and Lisa talk that we were in great hands.
We can’t wait to see what next year’s camp will hold, but I know this much for sure; there will be hugs, laughs, happy tears, new faces, and lifelong friendships formed, but there will also be a team of people revolutionizing web technologies and making them beautiful for all of our amazing clients and those yet to come!