Road Trip: EdCamp Island

There is something about getting in your car, loading up on junk food and braving the traffic that is so rewarding. We ended up in a totally different place and it was only a few hours away.

Colin and I took a road trip to Manitoulin Island to visit our friend Julie Balen and for EdCamp Island. 


Apparently there is a quintessential first trip to the island and that includes running on to the ferry with moments to spare. And our first trip was not unlike the rest. We made it and were grateful for the 2 hour ride from Tobermory to Manitoulin. It gave us time to decompress from the Art of Social Innovation training and to get ready for the weekend.


The planning for this trip started probably last summer, when I first met Julie on twitter. And we had a few really great conversations and Julie along with her colleague Sue came down to Toronto last August for EdCamp BootCamp and for DT4i. At EdCamp BootCamp I delivered a training on unconference principles and the lessons I have learned from convening and planning EdCamps, Julie and Sue were among a group of educators looking to start their own EdCamp or other unconferences. In October, Julie came back to Toronto again to participate in EdCamp Design Thinking.


At this point, Julie had started the wheels going for an EdCamp on Manitoulin and was joined by a few other educators to start the planning for EdCamp Island. Not unlike most EdCamps that run the first time, most of the team had never experienced an EdCamp before. They did a splendid job of picking a location that offered a cozy place for conversations and wasn’t a school (which I personally always think is good for getting out of the traditional headspace) and they kept us so well fed with lasagna and a huge plate of desserts!


In the weeks leading up to going to Manitoulin, Julie and I spoke a few times about us doing the facilitation at EdCamp. It was our pleasure to step in and take on that role. Fitting in with our road trip theme, we were able to start the day with World Cafe and ask 2 framing questions to get conversations going.

1. Where are we on the journey?

2. What inspires you to take the next steps into unchartered territory?

I always find that starting with these open mind and open heart questions leads the Open Space conversations to intuitively go deeper.


For fun, I brought Hello Kitty with us for the road trip as a way to capture the adventure and she ended up being the perfect companion. In the afternoon, during Open Space, one session talked about “Be More Dog”, a funny video about a cat realizing that dogs have more fun. And so Kitty in a Dog costume was iconic.

As a perfect end to the day, we spent time in Julie’s garden and playing fetch with Satchmo and Hawkeye! And we can not forget the hosting and cooking for Chef Norm! We had plenty to keep our minds and bellies full.