How to run a CrisisCamp

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Welcome to this CrisisCommons Wiki Page. We want to let you know this content is OUT OF DATE. We want to direct you to Organizing_CrisisCamp for processes that have been established based on lessons learned from past events. This page will be Archived April 10, 2011. - Heather Blanchard, Co-Founder, CrisisCommons

What does a Crisis Camp organizer do?

Translations: Español Francais

Crisis Camps are the in-person meetings at any location worldwide that bring together members and volunteers of the Crisis Commons movement. Crisis Camps may be run by either one or multiple organizers and can be as large or small as your community wishes. There should be only one crisis camp per city so please collaborate if there is any other camps organised in your area.

Attendees will have a lot of expectations and a range of skills so it is important to deal with these first up. Make sure you clearly explain the CrisisCommons mission, the CrisisCommons_Charter, and that this is an initiative anyone can work on and that they will be placed based on their skills but also what they are interested in.

To help you understand what a Crisis Camp is, you should get familiar with the Barcamp experience, read everything on and at least browse through our wiki.

At that point, if you would like to proceed with running a Crisis Camp, please fill out this form on to apply for approval to run your Camp.

Pre-Crisis Camp checklist for organizers

  • Set up a unique Twitter account (such as @CrisisCampLA) and Facebook Page for your Crisis Camp
  • Choose a day and a time for your event, and ideally a location. Location, however, at this point isn't a requirement
  • Create an event sign up page using Eventbrite or a similar tool that can show a public webpage for people to sign up Example from past Crisis Camp Be sure to create tickets so you get a flavor of who is attending (Coders, TechSavvy, Languate/Translation and Geospatial). Also make sure that you ask people to bring their laptops with them.
  • Promote the CrisisCamp registration URL through your communication channels (email, Twitter, groups, Facebook, etc) you have and ask friends/connections to do the same
  • If you are a sole organizer, once you have a few people signed up, reach out to some of them to see if they are willing to help you organize on some level.
  • Search for and choose a location
    • Location should ideally include:
      • tables / chairs / handicap accessible parking
      • Wi-Fi / sufficient power plugs
      • central location for your city / near public transport
      • an area for food and beverages
  • You may want to read what worked and what didn't at a past event.

Things to bring

  • Laptop
  • Projector
  • Web cam
  • Coffee (optional)
  • Name tags
  • Poster paper for notes and brainstorming
  • Markers
  • Post It Notes (of different sizes)
  • Power cords
  • Duct Tape (for the cords to prevent tripping)
  • Power Bars

Food and Beverage

We have no set rules regarding food and drink for your Camp. You may raise funds from sponsors to cover meals, snacks and coffee, or you may ask attendees to chip in to cover costs. You may order pizzas or ask everyone to go out for lunch (although few people in our experience wish to leave the camp), or use any other arrangement that you wish. If you have a good sign up list before the event, we recommend that you send your attendees a pre-event email asking what they want to do regarding food and drink.

Please note that Crisis Commons is not responsible for any costs relating to your Crisis Camp, which includes food and beverage, parking and/or any other related costs.

Channels for publicity

On The Day


  • Have people sign in with skills, contact info
  • Start on-time.
  • Quickly have everyone in the Camp introduce themselves and their main skills, and then explain to the Camp as a whole what Crisis Commons is why we feel it is important (if you have a lot of Crisis Camp veterans, you may also skip this introduction and hand newcomers off to a veteran for orientation)
  • Have people break into skills groups (generally this has been: programmers, mappers, and non-programmers/mapppers)
  • Ask for a volunteer to handle your Camp's social media for the day, i.e. your Camp's Twitter updates, Facebook Page and blogging on the Crisis Commons Blog (anyone can just hit the login button to create an account)

Everyone at this point should be reviewing the CrisisCommons wiki to see the status of each listed ongoing project. Groups can then decide which ongoing projects to work on or may decide to start a new project of their own. Groups should be between 3-10 persons, with 5-6 usually being ideal. Each group needs to choose 1. a project manager 2. a scribe to record everything the group does (this will later be added to this wiki). At this point, everyone should then start working on their projects.

Over the day

  • Do a project check-in every few hours, update on status. Encourage the scribes to update the wiki as often as possible. On days when Crisis Camps are happening simultaneously around the country or the globe, this is extremely important as other Crisis Camps will be relying on your status updates.
  • Remind people to eat and drink. Seriously, people often forget at our Camps.
  • Keep moral and energy up by giving the entire Camp updates from other simultaneous Camps as well as key updates from your Camp's project work.
  • Make sure you keep it fun and keep people communicating.

Closing up

  • At least half and hour before your end time, the main task of your Camp as a whole should turn to updating the wiki and/or GitHub (with code). This is extremely important. If your scribes have been updating the wiki throughout the day, this should not take too long.
  • End your event on time and clean up your space.

Some Camps organize after-party events - this is solely at your discretion.

Collaboration Tools


There are a number of listserv emails that are circulating around the Haiti crisis. For privacy and spam purposes we are not going to name them here, but we will name the main CrisisCommons Google Group list

CrisisCommons Wiki

The CrisisCommons Wiki should be your default way to collaborate and document.

Meetspace (In Person)

Have people put a large post it on the back of their laptop screen with their full name and email (and twitter, phone, etc)


account | Main @crisiscommons
    • Twitter accounts of Crisis Camp cities (new organizers please update once you have a Twitter account)

Twitter List of all current city organizers

Overall hashtag #crisiscommons


Server: Channel: #crisiscamp

See Chat_space_information.

Phone & Skype


According to, "Git is a fast, efficient, distributed version control system ideal for the collaborative development of software. GitHub is [a] way to participate in that collaboration: fork projects, send pull requests, monitor development..." We are urging developers to use GitHub to store and share their code repositories - in English, this means that programmers can keep their software code here for everyone to see, edit and share.

Templates and Tips for Organisers

  • Conference Call Number for CrisisCamp Planning (619) 276-6333 PIN is 411911, 5:00EST
Important pre-reading for volunteers and organizers - "How to Manage Large Volunteer Hackathons"
Template press release:
Template schedule based on Clay's post above:

(Yet to be written articles)