EMFcamp? What’s that Phil?

Oh boy.. you are one of today’s lucky 10,000!

Probably best to start with the EMFcamp website, although that only really scratches the surface of what happens when 3000+ geeky / nerdy (why not both) folks get together in a really rather nice field (thanks Eastnor Deer Park!) and let their inner geek out.

I have already read through a few blogs from other attendees that describe the experience from their point of view and it’s interesting that some things appear quite different to people, while others are very firmly the same - I’ll start by trying to pick out the commonality:

  • For first timers, an overwhelming sense of having “found my people” - it’s quite beautiful to watch. My first time (only 2 years ago) was a revelation - despite being one of the lucky ones who already had some geeky friends and family (yo bro!), being with so many other geeks was a delight.
  • The joy of being able to be yourself, all of yourself and be accepted even congratulated on this.
  • Knowing that you share a special trait with your fellow attendees: curiosity is our hallmark and it’s encouraged! You just know it’s fine to pop into a village and ask about their stuff / clothes / challenges making things, or go to one of 400+ talks / workshops / events. A wealth of willing information firehoses to drink from..
  • Wonder (awe even) at the ability of others to create / repair / restore / reuse / innovate with things.
  • The obvious amount of self / social capital (I don’t like that term but it fits) invested by the team of people who volunteer for months ahead of the event to make EMF happen, the willingness of attendees to volunteer during the event, paying forward to ensure we and others get this experience again :)
  • The diversity of attendees in many forms.
  • The willingness of people to play, especially regarding silly things like a ‘Cat ears must be worn beyond this point’ sign, that was honoured by many.

Whew! Perhaps you were expecting a list of fun techie things, or shared camping experiences, but it seems it’s the social aspects of EMF that everyone gets.

What was it like for Phil?

Speaking of camping, I did suffer from the cold overnight - my feet did not like me much (cramp!) and I’m wondering how to keep them warmer without leaving a heated blanket on (bad idea!). There is a campervan option that my friends took (expensive on your own), or even staying in a local cottage / AirBnB / hotel (then you miss out on the nightime entertainment however).

I popped into the Null Sector for a few minutes to experience what has elsewhere been described as “filthy” bass (I estimate several kW of large bass bins stacked under the DJ gantry), and can confirm that I was moved (at least my eyes went out of focus) by much of the infrasound being generated! This however isn’t really my thing (never has been) so I retreated to a safe distance and enjoyed the laser show from both Null Sector and the projected video games on the hillside (cheers Seb!). Walking back from Null Sector I realised that some of the lasers (above the entrance) were controlled from a keyboard 50m away in the field which was there for us to play with - at that time a couple of pre-teens were doing a good job staying with the beat..

As a member of the AMSAT village, I spent half my time talking to others about satellite technology: building them, getting them into space and using them from the ground. Lots of interest, both in how and why we do this, which was great!

This time I volunteered for a shift in the shop (lovely people, mostly working terminals) and as a herald on stage introducing speakers (more lovely people, opportunity for terrible jokes / puns), so you might see me briefly on the recordings of some of the talks (Stage C, Sat afternoon). The free meal in the volunteer kitchen was excellent too - thanks team!

Finally - I decided to spend as much time meeting people as I could, since I could catch up on talks later, which was definitely worth it for me - the Mastodon meet-up was good (they’re all real people!), the craic in the Robot Arms (bar tent) was chill, I especially liked the waves of applause as / when someone beat the high score on the games around the sides, the beer was decent and service was prompt. Old friends were there from 2022 and earlier, and I talked one of my oldest friends (from uni nearly 40 years ago) into coming too.

I’ll be back #emfcamp.