Cleveland GiveCamp 2012: Coding for Charity

Blog Date
Julie Smith
Michael N. Smith
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

One of the best Cleveland tech events each year is Cleveland GiveCamp ( - @CleGiveCamp - It is so great on so many levels that this blog post can’t truly express the feelings of the attendees. It is a weekend with a lot of very hard work, but this work yields benefits not only for the charities it serves, but also to those who attend. From the fact that it provides major support for Cleveland charities, to the fun environment and talented people, the third year of Cleveland GiveCamp, held on July 20-22, 2012, was an experience we recommend that all participate in and support. We (Michael N. Smith and Stuart O Smith, Jr.) have participated all three years, and are pleased to be able to share our insights about this great new Cleveland tradition.

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Welcome to GiveCamp!This way to GiveCamp registration!It's as easy as 1-2-3!GiveCamp opening meetingGiveCamp opening meetingGiveCamp opening meeting25 + 200 = GiiveCamp 2012Post-it!


The focus of the weekend is the charities of Cleveland who can use the technical knowledge of the volunteers to further their missions and better serve our community. Their needs vary from a website refresh to a full website redesign to mobile phone apps.

This year, Cleveland GiveCamp itself was the 25th organization being served with a website rebuild. Yes, the “cobbler's kid” will get new shoes! Look for the new website at:

The team on which Mike worked built an extension to the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) (@NeoGreenBldg) WordPress website. Stuart was on the team which moved the content from a Drupal 6 website to a brand new Drupal 7 website for People Beating Cancer (@PBeatingCancer).

Here is the list of nonprofits served and their project goals. Check out these charities' websites and follow them on Twitter to learn how they are helping our community:

  1. The Arc of Greater Cleveland - Website update and integration

  2. Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (@ChagrinDocFest) - Database application

  3. Cleveland Mediation Center - New website

  4. Digital LifeBooks, Inc., a program of Andrews House (@DLifeBooks) - Web-based application for data storage

  5. The Empowerment Center of Greater Cleveland - Database application

  6. The Galen Foundation dba People Beating Cancer (@PBeatingCancer) - New website 

  7. The Galvin Education & Resource Center for Families - New website

  8. Greater Cleveland Volunteers (@CleVolunteers) - Website update and integration

  9. HandsOn Northeast Ohio (@HandsOnNEO) - iPhone/iPad app

  10. Home Repair Resource Center (@HRRC1) - New website

  11. Lake County Free Medical Clinic, Inc. - New website

  12. Lake Erie Ink: a writing space for youth (@LakeErieInk) - New website 

  13. Long Term Care Ombudsman - Website update 

  14. Mental Health Services for Homeless Persons, Inc. - New website 

  15. Mt. Pleasant Community Zone - New website

  16. New Avenues to Independence, Inc. - New website

  17. Northeast Ohio Adoption Services (@NOASAdoption) - New website

  18. Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) (@NeoGreenBldg) - Website extension

  19. Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education - Database application

  20. Ohio City Bicycle Co-op - Database application

  21. Ohio City Inc. (@OhioCityWriters) - Database application

  22. The Sculpture Center - New website

  23. Think of Ability, Inc. (@ThinkOfAbility) - New website

  24. Walk of Faith Community Center - iPhone/iPad app

    Plus . . .

  25. (The cobbler's kid :-) Cleveland Givecamp (@CleGiveCamp) - New website


Fun Food

We can't say enough about the great group of volunteers that Jane Winik put together for the food service at Cleveland GiveCamp. Thanks, Anthony, Jacob, Rich, Kathy, Ty, Tom, Kasey, and Sarah! Rich and Kathy were from nonprofits served last year, and "paid it forward" by volunteering this year. Not only was the quantity of food great (there was plenty of food to feed over 200 people), but it was also delicious and there was enough variety to accommodate the needs of all the attendees. 

This weekend event went beyond just meeting the basic needs of feeding the masses of techies - - the thing that makes the food at Cleveland GiveCamp special is that it is FUN.

  • Taco bar!
  • Pig roast!
  • Can you say “Donut Bar?” – I mean, for real, a donut bar!
  • Yes, there were healthy options at all meals, too. 

Thank you, Cleveland GiveCamp, for the fun food!

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GiveCamp kitchenOur great outdoor chefs at workChow time!Taco bar!Taco bar!Taco bar!Yum!MealtimeMealtimeMike at taco barCorn on the cob!Pig roast!MealtimePig roast mealDonut bar toppingsDonut bar toppingsTime to make the donuts!Snack timeDonut bar!Donut bar!Donut bar is serious businessTopping the donutsLunchtimeLeftover smorgasbord

Fantastic Sponsors

Our community's charities benefited from the generosity of this year's Cleveland GiveCamp sponsors, who gave added support, food, and supplies to accommodate more volunteers than ever before. Many of our sponsors represent the strong technology community we have in Cleveland!

It was interesting to see how many of the sponsors located in Cleveland are expanding by hiring more technology experts. Please visit the sponsors' websites and thank them on Twitter – they made this year's success possible!


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Our great GiveCamp sponsors!WordPress books donated by O'Reilly MediaSponsor Dealer Tire provided gifts to GiveCamp volunteers -- tire pressure gauges GiveCamp sponsor Explorys GiveCamp sponsor RosettaSponsor Hyland Software with some fun swagSponsor Jumpstart, Inc., (@jumpstart_jobs) asks: Want a Job?Lean Dog SoftwareLean Dog


Location, Location, Location

What can we say about the location!? We were on a boat on beautiful Lake Erie and in an  air and space museum in Cleveland

The Lean Dog Software (@LeanDog) and Arras Keathley Agency main offices are on a boat that is 120 years old and is in the middle of a $600,000 renovation. (To learn more about the renovation, read the Plain Dealer article: Cleveland envisions a floating office park to lure the creative class by Robert L. Smith (@RLSmithPD) on @ClevelandDotCom).

A special big THANK YOU to Jon Stahl (@JonRStahl) for letting Cleveland GiveCamp be the first group to use the new expanded space on the Lean Dog Boat (learn more about the history of the Kearsage boat and sign up for a Lean Dog boat tour). The interior of the boat was not pretty this year (carpeting and final touches on the renovations still need to be installed), but the views and expanded space were wonderful! We can't wait until next year to see the finished renovation! The team that Stuart was on worked in an area at the stern of the boat on Friday and Saturday, until an air conditioner failure drove us to the airport on day three. 


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Submarine USS Cod next to Lean Dog Software boatNew workspace aboard the Lean Dog boatNew workspace aboard the Lean Dog boatSunset on Day OneCleveland GiveCamp 2012View of Cleveland from Lean Dog boatSunset Day Two Sunset Day Two Sunset Day Two Lean Dog Software boat


The International Women’s Air & Space Museum (@WomenInTheAir) in the terminal of Burke Lakefront Airport became our tech home for the weekend. Meals were prepared and shared. Welcome and recognition events for the 200+ people were held, and teams of techies dotted its meeting rooms. Special "stand-up" meetings between teams occurred here, pulling the talents from all the teams into one.

The team Mike was on claimed a spot in one of the airport's conference rooms, which was a great place to be creative. It was fun to work amidst  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (@NASA) equipment (check out the mission control console!), flight simulators, and important artifacts from aeronautics history.

The area between the Lean Dog boat and Burke Lakefront Airport became a tent city for the weekend. Some very hardcore volunteers pitched tents, putting the "camp" in GiveCamp!


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Fun working among displays of historical aircraft!Mannequins in Blue Box flight simulatorStand Up meetingStand Up meetingTents put the camp in GiveCamp!Interesting to work in an active airportFlight simulator1967 flight simulator advertisementHistoric mission control consoleBurke Lakefront Airport



Cleveland GiveCamp does a great job of pulling together the vibrant Cleveland tech community to further the mission of local nonprofits.  Stuart remembers learning in his nonprofit management classes at Case Western Reserve University about the unique role nonprofit organizations have played in the Cleveland community. [Examples: The Cleveland Foundation (@CleveFoundation) is the world's first community foundation;  the nation's first modern Community Chest started right here with our United Way of Greater Cleveland (mission and history) (@UnitedWayCLE).] Now, in Stuart's second career, he is excited to hear about how Cleveland's tech community is growing. Our community's GiveCamp pulls together these two rich histories of Cleveland – strong volunteer movement and a city of innovation – into one great event on the shores of Lake Erie!

One of the magical things about Cleveland's GiveCamp is how the volunteer teams are pulled together. On Friday night of GiveCamp weekend, teams are created by matching the unique skill sets of the participants to the needs of the nonprofits. Tech/development/design experts get to experience working with people they have never worked with before. The teams are also fluid.  At a “stand up” meeting, if a team has a need, other teams share their talent. Thus, as much as possible, all the GiveCamp teams function as one to help all of the projects succeed.

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Team strategizingPlanning a websiteGiveCamp teams at workGiveCamp volunteersGiveCamp teams at workTent cityGiveCamp teams at workGiveCamp teams at work@GreatLakesGeek (Dan Hanson) visits GiveCamp Media TeamGiveCamp teams at workGiveCamp teams at workGiveCamp teams at workGiveCamp teams at workMap of GiveCamp team locations on Lean Dog boatMap of GiveCamp team locations at Burke Lakefront AirportGiveCamp teams at workGiveCamp Media TeamGathering on the tarmac for group photoGathering on the tarmac for group photoAirplanes at Burke Lakefront AirportGathering on the tarmac for group photoGiveCamp photographers on roof getting ready to take group photoCleveland GiveCamp Official Group Photo by Albert R BellWorking into the evening on the Lean Dog deck3rd annual Cleveland GiveCampWatching the final group presentationsMike's team at the final presentationsStuart's team at the final presentationsSarah Dutkiewicz and a member of the next generation of coders

What Others Are Saying

As I stated, this blog post can’t truly express the feelings of the attendees. Thus, I invite you to read other participants' blogs and articles in our community, view photos and videos about GiveCamp, and take in the spirit that IS Cleveland GiveCamp!

Here is our GiveCamp YouTube Playlist with videos from all three years of Cleveland GiveCamp. Thanks, Kevin Dutkiewicz (@athlonduke), Think of Ability (@ThinkOfAbility), Great Lakes Geek (@GreatLakesGeek), Will Kesling (@WillKesling), iGeryP, and WEWS NewsChannel5 (@WEWS), for sharing.

Please note that the ThinkofAbility video, "Courtney's Story," was specially made at the 2012 Cleveland GiveCamp event. Also, you will see Mike and Stuart in the 2010 video by WEWS News Channel 5.

Note that all these photos on this page have been grouped by subject. A similar photo set of Cleveland GiveCamp 2012 is also on Flickr in chronological order.

Tweets about @CleGiveCamp

Here are tweets and re-tweets that I did regarding Cleveland GiveCamp.

Pre-GiveCamp and Setup
Start of Day One
Start of Day Two

Start of Day Three

After Cleveland GiveCamp


Take action! We recommend that you:

As of this writing, the official date has not been announced, but the 2013 Cleveland GiveCamp is tentatively scheduled for July 19-21. Watch for confirmation, and mark your calendar!

Thanks to all who made GiveCamp 2012 possible!