At New England GiveCamp This Weekend

New England GiveCamp 2010So I’ve got my assignment for New England GiveCamp, and by this time Friday I’ll be clacking away on my laptop, alongside some 100 other computer programmers, graphic designers and other volunteers at Microsoft’s New England Research & Development Center.

That’s right, NERD. Silly acronym, absolutely awesome building right on the MIT campus in Cambridge, at Memorial Drive and Main Street.

According to the coordinators, I’ll be working on a project for the Goshen Land Trust, helping them integrate Quickbooks, Giftworks and Excel. They also want to talk about social media.

This charity is after my own heart: They preserve open and green spaces in Goshen, Conn. I am a sincere believer in open space / green belt concept — that is, ensuring every community has fields, woods and otherwise undeveloped land — is valuable; the bigger the community, the more important open space becomes.

Of course, one would expect that; I do live in Maine and I was raised on hunting and fishing.

I also live next to a playground that is essentially a pool, basketball court, swing set and large, open field; and every day, from the first time the thermometer tops 50° to the first snowfall, that playground is full of people from all walks of life, enjoying fresh air and exercise.

Is this project the most exciting thing I’ve ever been asked to do? No, it is not. Is it the most challenging thing I’ve ever been asked to do? Again, no. And I’m not entirely sure it’s going to take all weekend to do it. I’m not even sure it’s going to take past lunch on Saturday.

But I was reminded by my project leader that the object of the camp is to help out people who need it, even if what they need isn’t the next Facebook. And I’ve also been promised that there will be plenty for me to do, even if we finish early.

I was planning on staying at NERD this weekend, since they offered, and they have showers, and hotels anywhere in or near Cambridge aren’t exactly cheap.

But then I found out they have three showers for guys, and there are 50+ people planning on staying at NERD, almost all of them men.

Believe me, I’ve roughed it. I’ve spent several nights camping with others during winter, when washing wasn’t an option. I’ve been elbow-deep in ruptured game-animal entrails on many occasions. Stench and grime isn’t a problem for me.

But there is no way I am getting into a shower that’s been immediately used by at least 10 people before me. That’s simply unsanitary. I don’t care how clean and healthy everyone at this thing is; showering like that is begging to get ill.

Anyway, time and circumstances allowing, I plan to blog, or at least tweet, over the weekend. Stay tuned.

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