Chapter 5: Open Sources
- Seek PR opportunities. Getting the word out about your camp or project is good for you, your university, and future participants. Consider partnering with the university communications office to produce press releases. Also, contact local newspapers and utilize free publicity tools like department blogs to educate others about the good work being done. Check out some of the publicity our camps received to give you ideas for presenting your project to the press.
- Raise awareness and enthusiasm through t-shirts. T-shirts are an easy way to build community and thank sponsors. Some years we let campers design the shirts themselves and for others we created the design. We have listed our major sponsors on shirt sleeves to offer partners unique advertising opportunities. Most cities have a local printing company that may be able to cut you a deal. There are also several online sites (vistaprint.com, uberprints.com, etc.) that print shirts on the cheap. This form for t-shirt sizes is included in registration packets so ordering the right sizes is easy.
- Create web spaces that will live. Web spaces are often seen as promotional only, but we found that having a space that’s available beyond the camp allows campers to return and stay in contact with others. The sites might attract future participants as well. The spaces need not be websites designed from scratch -- they might be blogs or wikis that are easy for campers and others to contribute to during and after the camp. For example, both Girlhood Remixed 2013 and GRTC 2015 used wikis to develop plans and coordinate volunteers. GRTC 2015 then developed a separate website available to campers, parents and guardians, and the larger community.
- Hold public displays. Younger kids especially get such a thrill from sharing -- on a large scale -- the work they have done. Our most recent camps ended with closing ceremonies that showcased campers' work for friends and family. These exhibits are not only important in building writer confidence but also building excitement for the next iteration of your project. Below we've shared some documents that helped us host successful public displays. In addition to invitations and certificates, you'll find Girlhood Remixed 2013 closing ceremony programs, girl-created videos, and the camp music video screened for the GRTC 2015 closing ceremony.
- Make time for participants and volunteers to offer assessment. A tenet of feminist scholarship is to value all voices and to make space in research for “subjects” to become active agents and participants. Adopting such a standpoint is essential in assessing a writing or technology camp in that it allows us to measure “best laid plans” not by our own perceptions but by the words and insights of those we seek to work with and for. A volunteer from GRTC 2015 is currently interviewing all those involved in planning and leading the camp to track reasons for volunteering, participant "take aways," and ideas and plans for future volunteer work.
- Invite outside assessors. Another consideration -- for planning and funding -- is to seek out outside assessment professionals who might supply fresh eyes and different assessment tools for measuring your program. Many universities and public schools have assessment specialists who might be willing to partner with your project.
- Take assessment seriously. It’s easy to assume that any writing or technology intervention is a good thing, but when it comes time to secure future funding you will want to be armed with writing samples (such as journal entries), digital artifacts, and some hard numbers regarding participant numbers and take-aways. Consider securing IRB approval before your project begins so you can plan for assessment and data collection well before participants show up.