WordCamp London – with the kids!

At the weekend, we went down to London for the annual WordCamp London conference. WordCamps happen all over the world, and are dedicated to all things WordPress! If you don’t know what WordPress is, it is the blogging software that runs this website, and also how I make my money as a self employed web developer.

WordCamp London 2017

Since James started working at Co-operative Web around five years ago he has used WordPress at work more than ever before, and so both of us work on WordPress sites in some way almost every working day. As you can imagine, we have some very geeky conversations in our household at times!

When we saw tickets being released for this year’s WordCamp, and that it had a crèche, we were delighted that both of us would be able to go together. We have limited childcare options and so weekends away without the kids are few and far between. WordCamp London are aiming to be as accessible as possible and it was evident everywhere throughout the conference; they had an amazing live transcription service displayed on projectors in each room, wheelchair routes were clearly signed, and they catered brilliantly for families like ours.

The girls are growing up as little geeks and they got to see this amazing community this weekend, full of people earning their living in the tech sector. I can’t imagine a better group of role models for kids like ours than the WordPress community. Georgie has been saying for months that she wants to be a blogger, she already makes videos, and she has been “coding” using the Scratch Jr app since Reception at school.

James at WordCamp London 2017

Every where we went with the kids with us, they were welcomed with big smiles… and plenty of stickers! So often when you bring children to a predominantly adult event like this they are treated as a nuisance and we are given irritated looks, but it couldn’t have been more different at WordCamp.

All the brand reps were so friendly to them and I’m sure they got more “swag” than James and I did*! All of the WordCamp volunteers, and the lead organiser Jenny in particular, made sure that everything was ok for them and we felt so welcome as a family. The girls were able to join us for all the included meals, which was really great too.

Lunch at WordCamp London 2017

The crèche, which was amazing, was heavily subsidised (via brand sponsorship of the event) so didn’t make affording childcare for the weekend a barrier to attending at all. The girls were in the crèche for the morning and afternoon sessions, and then we collected them for lunch. There was a lactation room next door, too, for any breastfeeding mothers to use.

It was run by Nipperbout who are basically a mobile nursery, providing childcare at events like this one for children ages 0-16 years. Their “purple people” looked after the girls so well, and they had an amazing set up; the room had been transformed entirely into a fab play room. Both Georgie and Lydia really enjoyed their sessions, and every time we dropped them off they dashed in with the minimum of goodbyes to us!

We were given leaflets at the end with everything they had been doing, how much they ate, etc. At the start of the weekend we were given all the vital info about their stay, and were reassured we could call or text whenever if we wanted an update. Before the conference we had filled in online questionnaires with all the kids vital info, any medical concerns, etc.

WordCamp Localhost shirt

They got up to all sorts of fun, and it was catered to fit in with the event brilliantly too. WordCamp London 2017 had a “theatreland” theme, and the kids made puppets, tickets, theatre sets and then put on a show! They also enjoyed different activities featuring Wapuu, the adorable WordPress mascot, including colouring in and “Hunt the Wapuu!”. James managed to win a knitted Wapuu, which has gone to an ecstatic Lydia who recognised him immediately after a weekend full of Wapuu fun.

It was lovely to feel so considered and included as a family, and the crèche was the entire reason we were both able to attend the event, which itself was brilliant and really useful for us both. There were a handful of other children there too, so it was obviously helpful to several parents at the event, and I hope they continue to have one in the future. The girls have both asked if they can go to the “purple people” again sometime!

Girls at WordCamp

Meanwhile, Georgie has taken her “Manny” robot from GoDaddy, her Wapuu colouring (with added #wcldn stickers), a WordCamp t-shirt, a WordPress badge, and her certificate from the crèche into school for show and tell this week. Trust me when I say that is an honour in Georgie’s world!

A massive thank you to all of the WordCamp London team, and also to Nipperbout – you all made us feel so welcome as a family & remembered that accessibility isn’t just about people with disabilities – though of course they are important too! I also made use of the quiet room when my own chronic pain condition wasn’t playing ball on Sunday, so thanks for that, too.

*Seriously, these girls came home with the light sabres from 34SP‘s prop box, enough haribo and lollipops to give them a permanent sugar high, all sorts of stationery, and a handful of t-shirts, including the official “localhost” one the volunteers were wearing. They’re going to have some geeky nighties!