LaidOffCamp / OrganizeALaidOffCamp
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One of the most common questions we get is: How do I organize a LaidOffCamp?  Well, we're going to try to assemble a simple process for organizing your own LaidOffCamp:



Getting Started


Things to remember

  • Failure is an option -- albeit an unlikely one. It's important to embrace this; if you accept that you're participating in a big experiment, the pressure will lessen and you'll enjoy planning your event!
  • The less planning you do, often times the better the event is.
  • Distribute as much ownership of the event as possible. While central planners and catalyzers are necessary to push things forward, the more people you can spread the responsibility to, the better -- for you, for the event and for the other participants!
  • Join the LaidOffCamp Mailing List / Discussion Board and ask all the questions you might have there (also feel free to look at past discussion threads). That way the replies are all in a public place where everyone else can see the answers.



Adding your event to the wiki

  • First, review Using the LaidOffCamp Wiki, then...
  • Create an account with PBwiki if you haven't already done so, and log in
  • Create a set of new pages for your LaidOffCamp:
    1. Click on the "Create a page" link
    2. Click "more options", then "Use a Template"
    3. Make sure you put your page in the "New Cities" folder (eventually an administrator will create a folder for your city)
    4. Use the *CITY* templates at the bottom of the list to create new pages for your LaidOffCamp (using pre-built templates)
      • Example for New York: *CITY* would be named NewYork, *CITY*SponsorLetter would be named NewYorkSponsorLetter
    5. Update each new page with your relevant city information (don't forget to update the hyperlinks)
  • Add a link to your main city page to the Front Page
  • Email to announce your LaidOffCamp on the @laidoffcamp twitter account


Set up communications

  • Set up some type of mailing list / discussion board for each city planning team and make sure you to add a link to it on your city's home page.
  • Blog, Email, IRC, wiki and document everything! Seriously, the more transparent and communicative you are about your LaidOffCamp, the more successful you'll be.


Next Steps


Find a venue

  • This is definitely the hardest part of the process. Venue donations are ideal!
  • Ideal venue will have at least 4 rooms  to be used for sessions and one large room for introductions / meals / socializing / etc.


Pick a date

  • Once you've got a place picked out, figure out when you want your event to happen. Planning time for a LaidOffCamp can range from 3-9 weeks depending on the number of volunteers and amount of free time they have.
  • Most LaidOffCamps occur on week day as the audience for the event is non-traditionally employed people who wouldn't otherwise be at the office.
  • You also need to pick the timing of your event. LaidOffCamp SF ran 9am-6pm and LaidOffCamp Dallas ran 1pm-5pm. Read LaidOffCampFeedback for more discussion on event length.


Spread the word

  • For the time being, please send any requests to send messages from the @laidoffcamp twitter account to
  • Set up an presence for your event on Facebook, Upcoming, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other local event calendar websites.




Create a budget

  • Create a budget on the wiki to organize all your costs and make sure someone is responsible for each item on the budget.



  • Sponsor participation: Try to focus on (local) sponsors who can actually attend and participate in some way.
  • Level playing field: Treat ALL sponsors equally, no matter the size of their contribution.
    • Don't give sponsors that contribute more money any "benefits" over sponsors who make smaller contributions.
    • This is great because it means that no one "owns" LaidOffCamp, and we get to keep the great community vibe.
    • Another reason this is a good idea: The little guys (startups, individuals) can contribute on a level playing field with the big guys (LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo etc.).
  • Diversity: Many small sponsors are better than a few big ones.
  • Encourage in-kind donations: Request that sponsors order food and other food stuff directly, minimizing the organizer's duties and responsibilities as well as the amount of money they touch.
  • Transparency: List all incoming donations (cash and in-kind) as well as all outgoing costs on the wiki.


Ticket "Sales"

  • EventBrite has been a successful way to make tickets available to participants, as well as to collect payment from sponsors. Email to gain access to the LaidOffCamp EventBrite account or just create your own.
  • Given the target audience of LaidOffCamp, it is encouraged to make your event free or very inexpensive for participants
    • For example, in San Francisco attendees had the ability to "purchase" donation-based tickets


Job Fair

  • LaidOffCamp is NOT a job fair, but we did get a lot of requests in SF from attendees that we invite hiring companies to the event. Here's an example of what we did: SanFranciscoHiringCompanies




Everything else

  • The rest you make up yourself. It's not meant to be complicated, so if you find yourself stressing, step back, realize that you're doing it for you and your community and that it's supposed to be fun! Stress probably means you're overthinking it and need to simplify.
  • Check out the LaidOffCamp Feedback page for feedback from past events
  • Feel free to ask any questions you have along the way on to the LaidOffCamp Mailing List.


Comments (8)

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Jen Barney said

at 9:05 pm on Jul 10, 2009

I'm doing a camp in the Salt Lake City Area Friday, July 17th! I have 1 week to plan and organize it! If you are in the area and would like to help, please contact me!


mitch slater said

at 8:13 am on Jun 9, 2009

Please Contact me in NJ about starting a camp- We have a date of August 26th!
Mitch Slater

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