And it was amazing.
Why would I do such a thing as bring my 12-year-old to Agile Coach Camp?
Well, in all honesty, it was part laziness on my part at first. But it turned into so much more!
A colleague and friend, Catherine Louis, suggested to me 2 hours before registration started the first day (registration was 4pm on a Friday), that I go ahead and bring my 12-year-old to this first night of Agile Coach Camp. It was much more informal and social, she pointed out, and it would be easier for me. So I did.
He was a hit! He adds (usually, and here as well) a bit of humor to many things that I do. We went through a series of lightning talks on Friday evening that largely turned into individuals talking about their position papers and what they had hoped to get out of the weekend. I was triggered to get up and talk after a "development manager" spoke, since it was exactly that role I had come hoping to learn better techniques for dealing with. As I stood up talking, I said something along the lines of "If you know me, then you know I have a habit of being blunt and sometimes pissing people off." It became quickly apparent to me that my 12-year-old had done something funny, as the room erupted in laughter. (Yes, he had: he raised his hand in a "Yep, like me!" gesture).
As the group was breaking up for the evening, a few people approached us and asked Steven to return the next day.
My motivation for allowing him to come the second day was somewhat selfish (enabled by others asking for him to come back): I want for him to learn "how it's done" in the real world. I know that many of the topics are above his head (but what can the exposure hurt?). I want him to see the mechanics of people working together, thinking together, learning together and enjoying it, following their passions and communicating with respect and open minds.
Undoubtedly, he got all of that out of this weekend and more.
What I *wasn't* expecting was the impact *he* had on the other attendees! So many people approached me about his being present that it was almost overwhelming. He seems to have touched the hearts of a few people and inspired others. I saw someone (eek! What was his name, again?) else bring their daughter on Sunday! It was contagious ....
People *asked* for my 12-year-old to talk to the group as a whole. They encouraged him, they praised his behavior, his openness, and his "hacking" skills.
Driving home on Saturday evening, I got to listen to him describe how he felt less nervous after meeting all of those people, hearing what they said to him, and even talking in front of all of them. JACKPOT! What I was watching was a young adult gain a little bit of self-confidence.
I believe there is no greater gift.
Thank you, to all who attended Agile Coach Camp. I apologize if his presence was a negative experience for anyone.
Oh, and I am grateful to Mike Cottmeyer for walking with him down the path of "hack my iPod", a phrase I am certain to hear ad nauseam over the next few months.