What’s ahead for History Camp and The Pursuit of History and how you can be involved
Next year is the 10th anniversary of History Camp. We had the first on in 2014, and in 2019 History Camp became a project of the non-profit organization The Pursuit of History, which Carrie and I founded that year.
Over the last few weeks I’ve received two questions from several who have been part of our community: What’s ahead and what can I do?
What’s ahead for 2024
- We will continue History Camp Boston.
- Updated October 1: We have confirmed Suffolk University Law school for History Camp Boston 2024 on August 10. The 2024 Friends reception will be Friday evening at the Bell in Hand and Sunday we’ll have tours. Details on presenting are available here.
- We will continue our weekly History Camp Discussions series.
- Updated October 1: Our first new History Camp Author Discussion is October 5. We will alternate new discussions with encore presentations from our Archives through the Fall quarter.
- We will continue monthly outings if someone comes forward to head those up. More on that below, too.
History Camps in other locations, such as returning to Colorado, repeating Valley Forge, or adding Richmond, will depend on staffing (and volunteers), which will depend on funding.
Likewise, our first Pursuit of History Weekend—The Pursuit of History: Forging the Continental Army—was extremely successful and proved out a concept that we had developed over a couple of years. There is a great opportunity to put together multi-day events—most likely two to three days—that use this same format. Whether we’re able to do this will also depend on staffing (and volunteers), which depends on funding.
How to get involved
I’ve divided these into three categories, listed in increasing order of the time commitment required:
- Supporting the organization’s mission and activities—This could take the form of a monthly or annual contribution, attending programs (and possibly volunteering at them), and sharing announcements of our programs on social media and with others who you think would enjoy them. All of these are important to being able to continue—and continue to grow. You know what to do—no need to ask— so just keep spreading the word.
- Playing a major role in an existing program—For example, what can we do to make History Camp Boston even better? Or, advancing some of the other ideas and put them in a position to be executed once resources are available. If this is something you’d like to discuss, please let me know.
- Taking on responsibility for a program—If one of the areas below is of interest, please let me know.
- History Camp Discussions—This series of weekly programs was designed and executed by Carrie. If you’ve seen any of these, you’ve seen me ask questions. Every single part of each program, including coming up with those questions, was done by Carrie. The last one is this coming Thursday, September 21. This is an outstanding opportunity for someone who is a voracious reader and would like to meet some of his or her favorite authors. Important considerations:
- Platform: The platform is in place and is straightforward to use.
- Booking speakers: Thanks to the 160+ sessions we’ve already done with a wide variety of authors, including Pulitzer Prize winners, it’s not been hard to book authors. If there is an author with a book that’s come out in the last year or so and we reach out to them, most of the time they’re interested in participating. In addition, we have publishers and publicists approach us. As a result, we have been able to book at least three months out. Whoever takes this on will start by scheduling upcoming speakers since the last one we had scheduled is the one that will be shown this coming Thursday.
- Format: I’ve asked most of the questions each week, but that need not be the format in the future.
- Timing: When we started, they were live. When the platform we use made it possible to record them in advance, we started doing that. They can be taped whenever is convenient for the author and the hosts, and that could be during the day or in the evening.
- Frequency: From the outset, this has been a weekly series, and nearly every week we’ve had a new program. (There have been a few exceptions, including around holidays or when were doing big events.) One possibility going forward is to have a new discussion every other week and show archived discussions on the off weeks. Or, it could start with this and go to weekly once it gets ramped up.
- Innovation: There are opportunities to innovate in several areas, including increasing engagement and viewership of the streamed as well as the archived programs, identifying ways to create “community” and interactivity, and finding some way to provide financial support for the program. One option is to use a platform such as Patreon.
- Local outings—in Boston or elsewhere: We had monthly outings for several years in Boston up until the departure of the last monthly outings volunteer, Jennifer. She did a fabulous job, including drafting a comprehensive “instruction book,” including finding sites, setting up ticketing, adding them to the website as an upcoming event, publicizing them on social media, and sending out an e-mail announcement if one was needed in addition to our regular newsletter, and then going on the outing. (Note that these responsibilities could be divided so one person wouldn’t have to do all of these.) She’s also still around and happy to answer questions. This is a great opportunity for someone who with strong organizational skills who wants to go out and see historic sites in ways that create a unique experience for true history lovers. We have done many outings in the Boston area, but there have also been some in Virginia and they could be done elsewhere. (Density of interested individuals is the biggest determinant of whether people show up, so that’s the challenge in some locations.)
- Strategic fundraising—I believe that the largest potential is in targeting individual large donors. This is a lengthy discussion I’ll be happy to have with anyone who is interested.
- PR—As with fundraising, experience is critical, and that experience could take the form either as a volunteer or paid staff member.
The Pursuit of History
When Carrie and I named the organization, we wanted to communicate that this was a journey—that we are moving forward. The Pursuit of History says it all.
And what we are doing—coming together from all walks life to learn from one and other and share what they’ve learned, and doing so without any political bent—is more important than ever.
Thank you for being part of The Pursuit of History.
Lee Wright | Founder | History Camp | The Pursuit of History