Search on ....
Subscribe to SLJ
100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

This One Time, At Nerdcamp

20140710 193850 70730350 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

Come for the knowledge, stay to admire the spectacular balloons.

Earlier this week 350 teachers, librarians, administrators, authors, and illustrators converged on Parma, Michigan for the second annual nErDcampMI. Like any good sequel, the is year’s camp was bigger and bolder. It also got some nice coverage in the local news.

It was an early morning…

…but worth it. NErDcamp is based on the EdCamp “unconference” model, which is to say it’s a conference where the sessions are unplanned. It’s the improv of conferences. Attendees show up, think of a session they’d like to facilitate, announce it to the audience, it goes up on the schedule. Then conferencegoers can choose whatever sounds good. What sounded good for breakfast that morning was oatmeal:

20140710 193437 70477606 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

20140710 193436 70476803 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

20140710 193436 70476081 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

The logo this year was created by Michigan’s own Laurie Keller (Arnie the Doughnut, The Scrambled States of America). Can we submit this for some sort of logo award? It looked great on the banner outside…

20140710 185807 68287859 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

…and (in a different variation) on the conference shirts.

After reaching Western High School, this was what I saw at the check-in table:

20140710 193850 70730760 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

Hey, I know that one! It was one of many book freebies supplied by publishers.

20140710 193849 70729946 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

The conference has definitely grown since last year, as evidenced by the “Where ya from?” map in the common area.

This was the scene in the auditorium:

20140710 193435 70475994 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

Colby and Alaina Sharp are the masterminds behind nErDcamp, so to kick things off, they took the stage to talk about how the day would go. They also had some special guests to announce:

20140710 193407 70447371 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

Arnie was in attendance.

20140710 193407 70447604 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

Babymouse too.

20140710 193407 70447139 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

Before long, people were volunteering to lead sessions, which were posted on the big board above. Then it was off to let the learning begin. Sessions varied from literacy to technology, and all sorts of combinations of the two. The day was split in half, with two morning and two afternoon sessions. One of the cool things is that notes from every session are available online.

20140710 193406 70446934 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

A nice nerd touch – all the rooms were named after Newbery winners.

20140710 185809 68289240 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

There were authors and illustrators in attendance too. Like all these folks. I met author Jess Keating, which was great. Ruth McNally Barshaw was there and had just received a package of Ellie McDoodle foreign editions, at which I took a gander. This series continues to be a hit in my school library.

20140710 185809 68289726 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

20140710 185809 68289482 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

Matt Faulkner (author/illustrator of the recent graphic novel Gaijin: American Prisoner of War) was there as well, showing some intermediate paintings from some of the picture books he’s illustrated. The paintings above are from Elizabeth Started All the Trouble written by Doreen Rappaport.

20140710 185808 68288595 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

After a wonderful day of learning, everyone gathered again to share something that they will take away from the day. It was an inspirational way to close. But the day was far from over for the organizers – as soon as things wrapped up, over 200 kids would arrive to take part in the first ever nErDcamp Jr.

Thanks to all the hardworking folks who made the day possible. See you next July 6-7 for nErDcamp 2015.

20140710 193849 70729185 This One Time, At Nerdcamp

share save 171 16 This One Time, At Nerdcamp
About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Lesley B. says:

    Nice recap! So glad I finally had the chance to say hi & thank you in person!

  2. I agree about Ruth’s books – my kids still love them, year after year. She was so nice!

  3. Megan says:

    I would give my right arm for a Laurie Keller shirt like that.

  4. lori eslick says:

    So wonderful to see this, and many many talented folks here!!
    Smart fellers rule!

Speak Your Mind