The first round of @WordCampSD tickets sold out within hours of being announced and stunned us all. The second and final round sold out March 1, a mere week after opening sales. Unfortunately, it was also twenty-four days before I officially stepped into my new role as Product Evangelist at SiteLock. It was looking like I missed the boat. In this case, the boat would, of course, be the USS Midway; the majestic World War II era aircraft carrier-turned-museum permanently moored across the San Diego Bay from San Diego International Airport … and WordCamp San Diego.

Not one to give up, I took to Twitter in search of aftermarket tickets. After losing out on several sales, I was presented a promising opportunity. Thanks to the helpful WordCamp San Diego organizers and a fellow camper who wasn’t able to make the trip, I finally had in my possession one of the coveted WordCamp San Diego tickets!

A short one-hour flight from Phoenix later and I was landing in San Diego, greeted by the USNS Mercy and some of Midway’s modern counterparts with the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

The camp organizers negotiated reduced rates at hotels conveniently close to the venue, the former Naval Training Center at Liberty Station, affording campers a short morning walk through a lovely Point Loma neighborhood with the undeniably comfortable weather. Attendees gathered in groups both outside and inside the registration building, undoubtedly unlocking the secrets of WordPress. That is, until the “Point Loma Pause,” a colloquial term referencing the frequent overflights of commercial airliners and military cargo planes at extremely low altitudes, drowning any hope of hearing your peers in conversation. It became a running joke amongst the congregators.

The conference tracks were split into three separate and unique buildings.

McMillin

The McMillin Center provided space for registration, the sponsor booths and the Development Track. The sponsor area saw plenty of traffic, and the Development Track was a popular destination, offering talks from dev pros like Josh Pollock and Stephen Carnam.

North Chapel

The North Chapel housed the Designer Track. The gospel of WordPress design was professed here by some of our friends, like Nile Flores and Adam Silver.

Gallery 17

Gallery 17 (formerly Barracks 17) contained the Plugin Track. This track fittingly held talks like “WooCommerce Boot Camp” by our WooConf brother-in-arms Andrew Behla, as well as an open Q&A with Pippin Williamson, “Ask Me Anything About Plugins.”

At the end of day one we all found our way over to 99 Bottles for a chance to network, mingle and properly thank the camp’s volunteers with a beverage. Some carried their discussions later than others, with a healthy attendance well into the night.

There was a common theme at WordCamp San Diego that became more and more prevalent, aside from the growing cache of inside references, and that was how exceptionally well-organized the event was. From the expertly placed signage to the flawless execution of lunch arrangements, everything went off (at least from an attendee’s view) without a hitch. These may seem like little things to most, but an enormous amount of planning and flexibility is required when running events like this. WordCamps are, and always have been, volunteer-run events. Having attended several WordCamps at this point, I’ve become more familiar with their intricacies and grown a genuine appreciation for what the volunteers and organizers do. This camp was easily one of the most impressive I’ve attended. Thank you all for the knowledge and memories!