I was lucky enough to be a part of the first edition of WeCamp, organized by my good friends over at Ingewikkeld. The experience was amazing and it motivated to further pursue my career goals. Fast forward to January this year and I receive an email from Stefan asking me if I'd be interested in being a coach this year. Considering all the legends that went before me I was beyond excited to be a part of this. But with the excitement came a lot of doubt, the usual suspect popped up in my mind: "who are you to coach others?".
One thing I've learned is to trust the judgement of my friends, if Stefan and the rest of the team saw a coach in me, then there's a coach in me. With that in mind, I swallowed my fear and replied:
First of all, it's awesome to be asked as coach! Sounds like a great challenge and something I can learn a lot from and it sounds like something that would be very fulfilling.
Of course the most important thing is that the participants leave the island with new insights and experiences. It's also good to know that Jeremy will be there as the coach of coaches, considering I've never fulfilled the role of a coach explicitly.
I'm definitely down for this experience and will definitely be giving it my all.
This email screams confidence, right? RIGHT?! Anyhow, the journey began. He asked me to send him some photos of me so they could pass it onto the artist to make me an avatar. I had a hard time finding proper photos of myself but despite that, the artist did an amazing job and I love my avatar.
Months, weeks and days passed and eventually it was time to head to the island. The coaches and crew arrive one day early to get settled and we had a quick bootcamp on coaching at WeCamp from Jeremy. This bootcamp was just what I needed to feel confident enough to go in and step up as a coach. We also had my good friend Jelrik come over and do a Liberating Structures workshop with us. It helped us get to know each other, and talk about the fears we had going into this experience. It was also at that point that I realised I was surrounded by supportive people and just being vulnerable with people creates a great bond.
The next day it's go time, we were all anxiously waiting for the participants to hop onto the island. The first interactions are always a bit awkward but we had Jelrik facilitate the first introduction and I truly believe this was key to making this edition a success. I'm an introvert by nature, any type of interaction takes up a big chunk of my energy. Having Jelrik facilitate this made that part a lot easier and after the session I had talked to about 80% of the people there. Next up the participants were assigned to their team and the experience began.
Alright, real talk... as I'm writing this, I'm realising there's no way I can put this experience into words properly. And I think that's part of the magic that is WeCamp. I could write about everything that happened and all the ups and downs I had as a coach or we had as a team. But that's not going to convey what WeCamp is about. It's different for everyone, some people walk away from the island with a newfound confidence, others are inspired to try new technologies and some people make huge career changes. Everyone experiences it differently.
But what is the secret behind WeCamp? Why is it so successful at inspiring people and enabling people to grow in such a short time? I strongly believe it's because of the island itself and the atmosphere it creates from day one. The moment you step on that island, you take on a mindset that is open and accepting of everything around you. There are no outcasts, everyone is looking out for everyone and failure is always an option. This is the formula that makes WeCamp special, this is something you probably won't find at your day job.
So yeah, I didn't cover the struggles we had as a team, or the difficulties we faced as coaches. But that's because I'd like to stick to the golden rule at WeCamp:
What happens at WeCamp stays at WeCamp.
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