Retreat, remembered

First off, this post has been way too long in the making. I should have written it a couple months ago, but that’s the thing about running things, you don’t always have time to come up for air. Anyway, without further ado…

As many of you know, we officially launched our new training series, Retreats 4 Geeks, with a HTML5 & CSS3 retreat co-led by Eric Meyer and yours truly. The event was held in an amazing cabin on the side of a mountain in Gatlinburg, TN and, as you can probably guess, it was downright magical.

I know, it’s my event series, so of course I'm gonna gush, but it really was so much better than even I could have imagined, and here’s why:

The location

Yeah, some people laughed when they heard we were going to run a tech event in Gatlinburg, but it really was a fantastic location. Sure, it's a tiny little town tucked in the middle of the mountains, but that “isolation” (though we had crystal clear cell reception and wifi with decent bandwidth) really helped us get the daily stress out of our heads so we could focus on learning and collaborating. Plus, where else can you go for a tasting of moonshine, try a deep-fried Oreo and then walk  down the road for a game of ”Hillbilly Golf”?

The venue

Kelly outdid herself when she found our lodge. It was just the right size, offered gorgeous views, and had plenty of amenities to keep us all relaxed and happy for the duration of the retreat. As an added bonus, there was even a family of bears in the neighborhood that paid us a visit to everyone’s disbelief and delight! (Yes, the bears are now on Flickr.)

My co-lead

Eric Meyer is an amazing guy. Not only is he one of the smartest people working on the web today, but he's also an incredibly nice fellow and a helluvalot of fun to hang out with. His sessions were awesome, often mind-blowing (for me too), and very practical. He was also an excellent mentor (as though I expected any less of him) and was really the perfect co-lead for our inaugural retreat. Plus I had a great time working on our silly little CSS transforms tool.

Last, but by no means least, the people

I am by no means blowing smoke when I say that we had an incredible group of attendees. Everyone got along really well and they were just damn fun to be around, whether we were in the classroom, sitting around the dinner table, or trying to guide our very tall van through the gauntlet of a low-roofed parking garage. I was so sad to bid them farewell on the final day (and I know they were too). If it's any testament as to how awesome they are, I'm actually getting misty thinking about them.

All told, we felt the retreat was a huge success and are looking forward to organizing next year’s events (to be announced soon!). I’d like to personally extend a huge thank you to Kelly and Jessica for organizing the whole thing and keeping everything running smoothly, to Eric for being an incredible co-trainer, and to all of the attendees for taking a chance on a new idea and making it an incredible experience for all involved.

Oh, and one last thing, for the hands-on project on the third day of the event, our attendees built a pretty stellar tribute to Johnny Cash using all of the HTML5 & CSS3 knowledge they gained over the previous two days. I was really happy with the fruits of their labor, especially considering they organized themselves and managed to build it all in less than a day. Great job yet again guys!

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