Every year, THWACKcamp is my favorite industry event. Yes, I like going to Microsoft Ignite, VMworld, and Cisco Live, but interfacing with more like-minded people is my bag. This is why things like the SolarWinds User Groups and THWACKcamp are my jam. I’ve been attending THWACKcamp since the beginning.

 

Let me start by saying that I was a proponent of SolarWinds’ solutions long before it became cool. Does that make me a SolarWinds hipster?  If so, I’ll wear that fedora at an ironic, yet jaunty angle. Years ago, I joined the THWACK community and sometime later was invited to be a THWACK MVP. Since that time, I moved to the “dark side” and became a Product Manager for SolarWinds.

Although I’ve participated in THWACKcamp as a customer since the beginning, this is my third year seeing THWACKcamp from the inside. I've been able to be a part of THWACKcamp since 2015, and I have to say that this year's event was the biggest and best. As always, the content was great. We got input from some of the biggest names in the industry and even had some grace our studio. This year there were more panels, more real-world discussions, and more input from the community than ever.

All of this was great, but I’m here to tell you that the best part was hearing from and meeting THWACK MVPs. This year we had 22 in attendance (25 if you count Leon, Mike, and myself ). You even got to see some of them during the live interludes between sessions.  Many are repeat visitors, others were people I’ve only met at SWUGs, but several were new faces. Though I’ve spoken with many of them online, this was the first time for me to meet them face to face.

Many of these people traveled thousands of miles to be here for the event. In an effort to make it as enjoyable as possible, we tried to line up a few outside events. Thus, the hangover.

Day 0

On Day 0 (the day before the official event), we set up a game night. I got to break out my uber-nerdiness and run a session of Dungeons & Dragons for some of the MVPs.

Here there be dragons... in dungeons.

We even decorated the game room (big thanks to mrssigma for gathering all the goodies)! And a week later, the decorations are still up.  I have no intentions of taking them down... ever.

The Gates of Fun!

Because you can't have a game night with just one game, another group gathered to play SysadMANIA. The laughter was loud and often.

sysADMANIA spotted in the wild!

Day 1

Then Day 1 happened and introductions were made, conversations exchanged, and assistance grabbed.

At the end of Day 1, there was a UX Happy Hour, which turned into a Happy Evening. So happy that even though the restaurant closed at 9:00 pm, we stayed until nearly 11:00 pm.

UX Happy Hour(s)

Day 2

Day 2 began a little slow. I mean, we all got there, but some of us were worse for the wear.

The second day also included more laughs with the MVPs, including a game of "Who Wore it Better?"

Who Wore it Better?

Day 2 ended with a surprise from the MVPs. They unveiled the T-shirts they designed in honor of the UX team.

It brought meech to tears and hugs were everywhere.

Day 2 ended with me going to my bowling league, so I had to beg out of the second-night shenanigans, but that doesn't mean that there isn't photographic evidence.

So I missed some fun.

For the second night in a row, the MVPs closed not one, but two restaurant/bars.

What a great year! It was really fun meeting up with people, talking tech, and building friendships.

Do you feel like you missed anything? Were you unable to watch one session because you had to choose another in the same time slot? Fear not, you can watch all of them here! Check out what you missed, or watch your favorite sessions again, as often as you can. If you're like me, you are already anticipating THWACKcamp 2018. I can't wait!