I was invited to Foo Camp this past weekend for the first time and after going, I can definitely see why it's such a big deal to go and why it's become an uber geek event. If you've never heard of Foo Camp, there's a pretty good article over on CNN and the Wikipedia page as some info. Essentially they got 350 "Friends of O'Reilly" together and let a conversation happen. The Friday night before the event, they put out whiteboards with blank timeslots on them and it's a free for all to put your session on the map. It ranges from more formal style presentations with a projector to sessions that take place inside tents with whiteboards and group ideas.
The whole vibe is fantastic and the diversity in ideas and interests with a dash of star power thrown in means that you won't ever be bored, and you're never sure who will be in a session with you. I sat in a few sessions with Ray Ozzie and during one of the sessions I was in we were interrupted by Larry Page's helicopter landing on the grass outside the building. The various formats of the sessions also make it very interesting. I sat in on a presentation with Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan where they took websites from the audience and then talked about how to optimize them for searches. Later that day I sat in on a session with Zed Shaw about a new chat protocol that he wants to use to kill IRC. In the process I got to meet a lot of cool geeks and have some interesting conversations about technologies. My last session of the day was about the Chumby which I think is going to be the first Flash Lite 3 device that people can buy. I got to see a demo of the new version and watched a YouTube clip on it thanks to the new video support in Flash Lite 3.
The best part of Foo Camp is the hanging out at night. That's when everyone kind of cuts loose and just has fun. Werewolf is a big thing at Foo Camp and on Saturday night I played it from about 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM with people like Chris DiBona, Michael Arrington, Christine Herron (she was really good at this game), Matt Cutts, Jason Calacanis, Rob Hayes, Brian Fitzpatrick, Trevor Blackwell, and a lot of others. Just being able to hang out with so many smart people is always fun but the environment of Foo camp really brings out the best in people.