Recently, a small group of experienced campaigners in the UK came together with what may have seemed a crazy idea: bring together the brightest, best, most enthusiastic young campaigners in the UK and immerse them in intensive campaign training. Casper ter Kuile, a bootcamp organizer, characterized the need for a bootcamp this way:

“Our sector is often afraid to invest in people, being unsure of immediate outcomes. But developing leadership, building community and upskilling on strategic analysis and digital mobilisation is fundamental to good campaigning.”

The result was the five-day Campaign Bootcamp in June. The bootcamp gave young people just starting out in campaigning a chance to learn from skilled campaigners and build networks of colleagues and friends that can support their work for years to come.

Campaigners didn’t just hear war stories or get lectured in campaign theory. The group was divided into six teams of five and challenged to create campaigns around a scenario given to them at the beginning of the week.

Prior to the bootcamp, organizers recruited over 200 people to join a scenario email list. This group of outsiders – largely campaigners and strategists from the UK and abroad – received and acted on campaign emails from the teams. Scenario list subscribers were so engaged that campaign emails saw open rates over 100% (we can dream of that for our own campaigns).

The organizing team also shared some of their stumbles during putting the event together with a brilliant Mistakes page. Campaigners – whether experienced or new to the field – all stand to benefit when understanding and learning from mistakes of their peers.

It’s worth noting that Campaign Bootcamp organizers were volunteers.

The team did it because “we love campaigning and want to pass out experience and skills on to a new generation of campaigners.” Casper describes the benefits to bootcamper, campaigns and organizations:

“Many established organisations are struggling to find how digital mobilisation fits in with their existing capacity, so we wanted to make sure there was a pool of highly skilled and connected young campaigners ready to take on that challenge – as well as enabling them to set up their own ventures. We’re really excited for what the future holds.”

Bootcamp feedback has been great thus far and organizers are planning the next one.