My first PodCamp was PCPGH3. I was invited by a former co-worker (and good friend) to come and see what it was all about.

I was a very new blogger. I was afraid to sign up for a Twitter account. I’d only been a Facebook user for a couple of weeks.

I didn’t know much. But I knew at least one other person going. And it was free. So I went.

I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I was only able to attend the Saturday sessions at my first PodCamp, but even after one day, I was hooked.

These people knew what they were talking about. They had crazy ideas that they were willing to try to make a reality. They showed me a lot of new things. They even listened to my opinions, even though I didn’t really know what I was doing.

(Heck, I was even having a hard time keeping up with all the Twitter updates on my not-so-smart phone.)

Most importantly though, they were super nice to me, a rookie who didn’t even know what a hashtag was.

That was in 2008. Fast forward to 2011, and I’m now living in Nashville, working as the high school sports network producer for Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports.

And I guess you could say at least part of that is PodCamp’s fault.

Not only did I love what I learned at PodCamp, I turned it into an area of research during my grad school tenure. And because of that, I now use social media on a daily basis as a tool for my job and help others learn about it.

I loved my first PodCamp so much that I volunteered to help plan PCPGH4 the following year. I even was asked (very strongly encouraged?) to participate on a sports blogging panel, despite my hesitations.

Due to my southern move in February 2010 (yes, I moved during Snowmageddon … ask me about it when you see me), I couldn’t make the trip back to my beloved Pittsburgh for PCPGH5. So I attended as many sessions as I could online. And still learned a ton. (And I have the t-shirt to prove it.)

I even ventured out this year, attending my first PodCamp Nashville in March 2011. It was an entirely different experience … but once again, I learned a lot. I’m already looking forward to my next PCN (and yes, I have the t-shirt to prove that too).

But I’m what I’m most looking forward to … is returning home next month to attend PCPGH6.

If you’re unsure about attending, don’t be worried. The people are still incredibly nice. They still have crazy ideas that they’re going to make happen. They still want to help you, no matter how much you know or don’t know about blogging or tweeting or podcasting or all of the above.

And everyone still has something to learn.

I can guarantee you that you’ll take a lot home with you to think about … maybe even put into practice for your blog, your podcast, your Twitter account … heck, maybe even your job.

And then, three years from now when you realize that what you learned has become a part of your daily life, you too can blame PodCamp.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

@CarlaSwank

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