Maximizing Learning and Networking: Insights from DrupalCamp New Jersey

A DrupalCamp is a one- or two-day event that centers on the Drupal open source web content management system, and tends to bring together people from a geographical region. The goals are primarily, of course, knowledge sharing and increasing awareness of and helping to grow the Drupal community. It's not easy to do this without also increasing awareness and knowledge of the tools we all use along with Drupal as well, which makes the gatherings all the more valuable. taught me that the term "camp" in this context comes from Barcamp, which is a self-organized, casual event, but one that can have significant impact and value, and that’s exactly what we get at DrupalCamp NJ.

DrupalCamp NJ Training
The camp was held in Robertson Hall at Princeton University.

Camps are unique in their community-driven approach, focusing on the grassroots level of technology and software development. They are pivotal in fostering a sense of community, enhancing skills, driving innovation, and ensuring the sustained growth and vibrancy of technology ecosystems like Drupal. Thanks to a small team of dedicated organizers like Sean Walsh, Peter Wolanin, and others, DrupalCamp NJ has been a valuable resource to the open web community for many years.

The objectives of DrupalCamp are designed to foster a strong, innovative, and collaborative community. When we break this down a bit we can see a lot of value in several areas.

Knowledge Sharing

  • Technical Skills: One of the primary goals is to enhance participants' technical skills through workshops, sessions, and hands-on training. This includes both introducing new technologies and methodologies and deepening understanding of existing ones.
  • Best Practices: Sharing industry best practices for development, workflow, project management, and other relevant areas to help participants improve their work efficiency and quality.

Community Building

  • Networking: Facilitating networking opportunities for professionals to connect, share experiences, and form valuable relationships that can lead to collaboration, mentorship, and career growth.
  • Inclusivity: Encouraging participation from diverse groups within the tech community to build a more inclusive culture where different perspectives are valued and contribute to innovation.
  • Volunteering: Camps are volunteer-organized and run, there are also many volunteering opportunities not limited to giving talks, training, and managing the facilities including rooms, technology setup, and food for camp attendees. Special thanks to John Cloys, Ian Finlay, John Jameson, Rebecca Louie, Michael Muzzie, Ray Saltini, Levi Sigworth, Sean T. Walsh, Danielle Weber-Soares, & Peter Wolanin.

DrupalCamp NJ Training
A small, efficient team of volunteer organizers run the camp from start to finish.

Innovation and Collaboration

  • Problem-Solving: Camps often include hackathons, community days, or collaborative projects that address real-world problems, encouraging innovative solutions and teamwork among involved members of the community.
  • Open Source Contribution: For communities like Drupal, a significant goal is to contribute to open source projects - including core, modules, themes, usability, accessibility, and security - improving the software and giving back to the community.

Professional Development

  • Career Growth: Providing insights into career development opportunities within the tech industry, including emerging roles and skills in demand.
  • Leadership Skills: Offering sessions on leadership, public speaking, and community engagement to help attendees grow as industry leaders.

DrupalCamp NJ Training
Mike Anello of DrupalEasy runs a half-day Drupal dev tools training on Thursday.

Trend Awareness

  • Industry Trends: Updating participants on the latest trends, technologies, and challenges facing the industry to keep them ahead of the curve.
  • Future Outlook: Discussing the future of the technology or platform in focus (e.g., Drupal), including upcoming features, roadmaps, and strategic directions.

Feedback and Collaboration

  • Project Feedback: For Drupal and related projects, camps are great for gathering user feedback on features, usability, and issues to guide future development.
  • Community Projects: Encouraging collaboration on community-driven projects or initiatives that support the growth and sustainability of the technology or platform.


  • Success Stories: Sharing success stories and case studies of projects or individuals who have made significant contributions or achieved remarkable success using the technology.
  • Motivation: Inspiring participants to pursue their projects, contribute to the community, and explore new ideas and technologies.

DrupalCamp NJ Training
Co-organizer Sean Walsh gives the morning kick-off for the full day of sessions on Friday.

Camp Learn & Network Model

A DrupalCamp has topics for everyone, but making the gathering even more valuable is the model variety for ways attendees can learn, share, and network. It’s common for DrupalCamps to have this variety of ways you can attend. DrupalCamp NJ this year featured:

  • Pre-Event Social: Often there are casual but valuable social events planned the evening before the camp begins. These are informal and everyone is invited to attend and network.
  • Training Focus Day: Thursday offered a set of choices for deeper-dive training sessions into specific topics. The classes offered at this event: 
  • Session Talks: Reflection, inspiration, community building, problem solving, security strategy, and new approaches to application development were themes of the full day of sessions at DrupalCamp NJ. You can read more about the full list of sessions on
  • BOFs: Birds-of-a-Feather sessions are a great informal way to bring together attendees with similar interests to discuss ideas and connect. Commonly there is a BOF room available during most time slots either for planned or ad hoc gatherings of like-minded attendees. 
  • Community Contribution Day: It is common at DrupalCamps to set aside the final day of the event to focus on contribution and collaboration. This informal gathering provides attendees with an opportunity to get involved in the Drupal project and community. All skill sets and levels are encouraged to join, and there is guidance provided if needed.

DrupalCamp NJ Training
Ashraf Abed giving his session on Intermediate Drupal Theming, a highly-valuable deep dive on modern, Drupal 10 theming topics.

Key Sessions of Note

A few excellent sessions that I attended personally which offered great insight into the topics:

  • Intermediate Drupal Front End Development by Ashraf Abed from focused on empowering by learning the less obvious aspects of Drupal's front end system such as render arrays, caching, and Twig. 
  • Navigating the Migration Landscape: Lessons Learned from Princeton University’s Migration of 1000+ Drupal Websites to A Single Platform by Mandee Englert and Jill Moraca focused on the intimidating topic(s) of achieving a successful migration that enables your platform to evolve and scale poses challenges, and conventional migration plans and checklists often fall short in providing the necessary insights.
  • Harmonizing Creativity and Code: Collaboration in Design Systems by Bryenne Kay and Robert Ngo focused on building and maintaining a design system alongside Drupal including building and structuring reusable UI components. This talk also looks at communication between design and development to build a cohesive product workflow that provides value and saves resources. 
  • Comparing Simple Alternatives to Google Analytics by Brian Osborne is an examination of some simpler and more privacy focused alternatives to GA.
  • Security in Drupal: What Can Go Wrong? by Benji Fisher covered some of the OWASP Top 10 which is the industry standard list of the most common vulnerabilities that can affect websites, including your Drupal sites.

Every one of the sessions was valuable and relevant to modern Drupal. You can read more about the full list of sessions on The recordings of the sessions will be made available very soon. Keep an eye on the camp site and/or for the session recordings.

DrupalCamp NJ Training
Every attendees favorite part of any camp: swag!!

What’s Next? Get Involved

There are many Drupal events going on around the world. You can also stay in touch and dive in deep on all topics Drupal on Acquia’s community-driven Dev Portal. The Dev Portal is always looking for great contributions, so everyone from the community is encouraged to submit articles of various types. For detailed resources on how to contribute, see the developer portal contributor’s resources. Engage with the Drupal community, attend the next conference to further explore the technologies and methodologies you and your team are working with every day.

DrupalCamp NJ Training
Drupal community members of all skill levels and backgrounds socializing at a networking break during the full day of sessions on Friday.