Monday, January 05, 2009

An interview with Alan and Enda - Organisers of TeenCamp Ireland


Alan (@alancostello) and Enda (@Endac) are the two young 'techies' that are organising this months TeenCamp Ireland in the FilmBase in Dublin. They are both 17 years old and have taken on a task of organising an event for teenagers (and people 20+ I am assured) who are interested in tech.

So who are these young 'techies'? I had an opportunity to find out more so I took it!

Alan is according to his online bio "blogger, Twaddict (Twitter addict!), TeenCamp co-creator, and general tall guy". He is 17 from Leixlip, Co. Kildare, and in 6th year in Coláiste Chiarián. He has a blog too, at Alancostello.com.

Enda is also 17 and is from Cork. He is a 6th year in Ashton. He also is a blogger, he blogs at Contrar.ie

So how did they get into tech? Enda says he started off on Windows 95 and by mainly teaching himself. He found Windows 95 to be quite "child friendly" he then worked up from there. Alan says tech was "always been something I've wanted to know all about" from his "first V-Tech 'laptop'" to the tape deck computers at his mothers work and right up to now with his iPhone.

So how did these two meet? Well Enda can't remember and it falls to Alan to fill us in. He explains that his "cousin is best friends with one of his friends, and we just became good friends", they met in Cork last summer (or Was it Dublin, asks Enda, Alan confirms it was Cork)

So where the idea for TeenCamp come from? A conversation on twitter. According to Alan "talk of the Irish Web Awards led to talk of BarCamp, which led to us talking about an event for teenagers and people like us" which led to "some blog posts on it, the feedback was fantastic" adds Enda.

Alan continues "The feedback has been great, loads of teens all over the country (and world) have asked if we needed help, and with less than two weeks to go we think we will have to take some of them up on their offers". Enda also said that they will be "asking for more help along the way" from the volunteers. Which to me is a sign of good organisation!

The event is being held in the FilmBase and I asked how easy was it to come up with a venue, "actually" replies Enda "Pretty hard", "Easy to find, hard to book" added Alan. In aiming for "a more relaxed atmosphere" that meant staying away from "hotel meeting center/conference kind-of place" explained Enda. Alan stated that "Temple Bar was the main idea, just seemed like our scene" ("Temple Bar is not my scene" Enda was quick to add that one!) "Filmbase was perfect" continued Enda "but I don't know if we'd have many alternatives after that."

Sponsorship for these types of events are always important so I asked them how they were getting on with that and what feedback they were getting. Enda said it was mainly "positive responses, until talk of money", but they do have sponsors they assure me!

The day itself looks to be an interesting and the lads promise as much. "People have volunteered through the registration form to give talks on a wide variety of topics" according to Alan and Alan himself is giving a talk at the event on integration but there will also be talks on subjects such as coding, gaming, culture and many more, but according to Enda their is a more important aspect to TeenCamp then the talks, Networking. He explains "I think we want to provide as many opportunities for people to network. That's what I noticed at the meet-ups, IWA and *Camps is in-between the talks. The conversation is just a huge part. If everyone in the room came away knowing one other person they didn't already know - that would be fantastic, because they'll keep the relationships up and (hopefully) more events and things will come from it". "And that's also the other point behind TeenCamp, we wanted something for us, the youth of Ireland" adds Alan "But the talks, giving a chance to learn about something you didn't necessarily know about before, will be an important part".

So with two weeks to go and School back this week are the lads feeling the pressure? "I thought about setting fire to Ashton last night. Don't know if you could call that pressure though" replied Enda. And Alan? "Well, I've got mocks the first two weeks of February, so I'm stressing out a bit"

So what have friends and family thought of this? Enda explains that most things involving him and tech lead to a "meh" response and his with his friends? " I get as far as the word "teen" with my friends and they're on the floor" Alan's mother "doesn't really understand it, to her it'll just be another day in town with friends" and to his friends not going to it "don't get the point either". But the reaction from people in Tech as made it all worthwhile. "We've had great reactions, people from the tech world have been entirely for the event," said Alan "many of them said it was needed too".

Do they see TeenCamp becoming an annual event? "We haven't really given much thought into the future of the event," replied Alan "after we see how this first one goes we will definitely think about it, maybe even making it more than annual. But I would assume as we get old we could pass the organising torch onto someone else". "If the demand and turnout (on the day) is big enough" according to Enda "I'd certainly be up for another one"

The event is open to all from 13 to 20+ ("its all about inner-child Stephen!" - Enda), it takes place on January 17th and the lads promise it will be "lovely" and "It's gonna rock" and "tell your friends."

So do what they say! Tell your friends and check it out yourself! I'll be there, will you?



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4 comments:

  1. Thanks for doing the interview, we certainly enjoyed it and it was great to publicize TeenCamp =)

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  2. Great interview Stephen, well done :)

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  3. @designneverdies No problems, glad ye enjoyed it, cause I most certainly did!

    @Darragh I must say your blog did inspire me! hence the conversational layout rather then more traditional interview layout. Reads waaay better!

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  4. Good read, it should be a good afternoon.

    I just hope that wasn't me quoted as saying a talk on gaming. My head is still empty :/

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Stephen