MLH Hackcon 2017

Not everyone knows why you can’t hang out every weekend. Not everyone understands why you travel from place to place to attend hackathons. Not everyone cares about the new VR project you’ve built on the Vive. But you do, and you want everyone around you to too. So you take on the initiative to make your own hackathon and grown your own local hacker community. You hope that your passion and joy can be felt by those closest to you too.

That’s the journey that most hackathon organizers go through. Organizing a hackathon is tough. So when Hackcon puts 400 students who have been through the same journey in one room, everyone becomes instant friends. By the end of the 3 days, you know everything about each other’s hackathons, favourite programming languages, and not to mention, Resistance tactics.

The conference was held at Pocono Springs Camp, a beautiful (& super clean!) campsite where you can swim, kayak, zipline, you name it— they probably have it. This venue was by far the most unique conference venue I have ever been to. By putting us all in one isolated campsite, we were given the opportunity to truly bond and focus on what mattered to us. 

This conference was definitely made with inclusivity & diversity in mind. From the gender pronouns on our name badges to the talks, the environment kept us feeling safe and comfortable at all times. Most of the talks I attended were discussion-based. This was valuable as it was interesting to hear about everyone’s unique experiences, and how we overcame similar challenges in different ways. I loved that everyone was there to learn and share. Everyone’s passion for the growth of the hackathon community was so inspiring and I was constantly reminded that “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”. Individually, we can build great things, but together, we can build the future. I also loved how the topics were well catered specifically to organizers, I was pleasantly surprised by discussions like dynamics between co-directors and how to leverage different communities. These were topics that aren't usually discussed within the attendees community, but heavily impact the core of an organizer's role.

Here are some of my favourite sessions by Victor & Chi, Lizzie and Kaitlyn (Madi, Joe, Swift & Kim’s + more are also part of this list but their slides / presentations aren’t up yet. I will link them once they are)!

The workshops generally ended before dinner so any time after that was free time. Li organized a Ladies Storm Hackathons meet up at the campfire. We made delicious s’mores and had a great chat. I was also able to catch up with a bunch of friends that I have met over the past year at different hackathons. We ended up playing board games and Resistance until 2am. Our laughter filled every moment of silence in the night. 

Just like that, Hackcon flew by. Before I knew it, I was leaving the campsite with new friends, memories, ideas, and the most adorable Octocat plushie. At the end of the day, the growth of this community is the growth of the people in it. So what better way to celebrate this than by gathering all of us together?


(A big thank you to Major League Hacking and GitHub for making Hackcon possible, and big hugs to all my friends— new and old!)