This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Ruby DCamp for the first time and it was an absolutely amazing experience. I couldn’t speak more highly of it and I simultaneously want to tell everyone I see how awesome my weekend was and keep it a secret to up my chances of getting in next year!

Besides local meetups, the only other ruby/rails event I’ve been to was RailsConf in April. I loved that and definitely came away with a desire to go to more conferences and events so when a friend of mine told me she knew someone with an extra code to DCamp and asked if I wanted to go, I said ‘sure’ without really knowing what I was getting into. I didn’t know what to expect when I got there but was extremely pleasantly surprised.

The first day of DCamp was a code retreat. This was absolutely AMAZING. We did 45 minute sessions of pairing on Conways Game of Life with six different people throughout the day. I paired with some absolutely fantastic people and I’m fairly certain I learned more there than I ever have in a single day before.

More than the tips and tricks that I learned as I was coding though, what I came away with was a sense of how kind and supportive everyone was. I was really intimidated to be pairing with so many amazing senior developers. I paired with many people who are well known in the community, including people giving talks at the upcoming RubyConf, and yet no one made me feel stupid or less-than for being a junior developer. In fact, lots of them were so supportive I came away feeling really good about myself and my skills, even though I made some really silly mistakes.

The next two days were an “unconference” style, in the morning we’d all get together and suggest ideas for topics, then we’d vote on which topics we were interested in. There were both technical and non-technical sessions and in all of them the moderators did a great job of ensuring that no-one dominated the conversation. We all got the opportunity to speak our mind and express our ideas.

The nights were dominated by making new friends over board games and Werewolf, a game I had never played before and now want to play constantly. Due to my quiet and unassuming nature I even managed to escape attention and win as a Werewolf my second time playing!

The most amazing part of it all though was the sense of community there. I really do feel like I left there with 80 new friends and there are already things in place to keep that sense of community going outside of DCamp, which is great because I’m really bad at finding ways to keep in touch with people.

DCamp has definitely figured out how to create a welcoming and diverse environment and that meant so much to me. As a queer black woman there aren’t a lot of times in the tech space where I feel like I ‘belong,’ but at DCamp I wasn’t alone in any facets of my identity nor was I the only one who understood and/or was impacted by the way these identities can intersect. Out of the 80 people, there were even ~20 bootcamp grads so there was a lot of diversity in educational backgrounds as well.

Overall, the experience was absolutely fantastic and I only wish it was longer. I can’t wait until RubyConf in November to see many of these amazing people again and I will definitely be doing everything I can to get to get a code to DCamp next year!