Newcomer's guide to the USG IT conference at Rock Eagle

Rock Eagle logoIs this your first year attending the USG IT conference at Rock Eagle? Get some "secret" tips that will make your conference a great experience. To get a general idea of how the conference is organized, peruse the 2015 agenda (also available as a 2015 PDF schedule). And then read on for registration and parking maps, packing tips, social media links, and more! (Updated for 2015)

Official newbie guide 

Official Newcomer's Guide: Helpfully provided by the awesome USG staff who organize this fun conference.

Registration & Parking Map

WARNING: my building information is based on how previous years were organized! But here are some key locations on this Super Helpful MAP of Rock Eagle (PDF), that you'll want to get oriented to, including:

  • Registration (START HERE & ARRIVE EARLY): in the Barkuloo-Rich building (BR). Be sure to stop here and pick up your registration packet and cabin assignment when you arrive! This is also where you can go for lost & found (if you misplace something). Arrive early so you can get lost a few times, are not rushed, and have plenty of time to sign up for the Miniature Golf Tournament.
  • Parking: usually, people park in the spaces in front of whichever cabin they get assigned or by the side of the road near the Cloverleaf field (a grassy, circular area around which are most of the buildings where your Sessions are held).
  • Dining Hall (DH): where the eating of delicious bacon and yummy non-animal protein occurs. Also where you can test your presentation setup and equipment. You might even be able to borrow a connector if you forgot one for your laptop.
  • Keynote buildingAuditorium (AUD).
  • Session buildingsGeorgia Power (GP 1-3), International Paper (IP 1-3), Hastings (HS).
  • Exhibitors/Vendors: Sutton Hall (SH) usually hosts these strategic partners in the afternoons.
  • Pavilion by the lake (SEN): where most INDOOR social events happen, the pavilion overlooks a lovely lake and is also near the bonfire area.
  • See the MAP of Rock Eagle for more information and orientation.

Social Media

This year's social media hot spots for the conference are:

Packing for an IT conference

  • Historically, the WiFi and mobile Data are spotty, except in certain rooms, so consider bringing your mobile hot spot, learning to tether to your cell phone's data plan, or creating a presentation that can run on your computer withOUT internet access. Also, you might want to DOWNLOAD ahead of time anything you think you'll need (like the RockEagle schedule, newcomers guide, or Maps).
  • Board games: consider bringing your favorite board game to enjoy indoors with other geeky folks (but not Cards vs. Humanity, please).
  • Follow Doug Vann's great packing suggestions about what to bring to any IT conference (especially consider the mobile power pack).
  • My Personal Fun Tip: If you don't like around-the-neck lanyards, bring your own badge-holder, perhaps a bejeweled one :)

Packing for cabin and outdoor life

  • Pay attention to the Eatonton weather forecast. You usually want to dress in layers.
  • Bring fun and warm clothes for the social events in the evening, such as music around the bonfire and (indoor) trivia contests, and maybe to play a round of miniature golf between sessions.
  • Think bunk beds (bottom bunk only) and shared bathroom space, and bring linens (picture of the very basic bunk bed accomodations). Let me re-iterate the organizers' recommendations:
    • Bring a sheet set, a blanket (or sleeping bag) and a pillow. (Bed sheets, a pillow, and one blanket are provided and while they are clean, they are usually small and somewhat worn.) 
    • Bring one or two towels. (Towels are also provided but they too are small.)
    • You may also want to bring a lawn chair and comfortable shoes.
    • It is important to remember the variations in climate, so be sure to bring a warm jacket for possible chilly evenings.
  • Walking trails (on-site): You might want to visit the Rock Eagle or Rock Hawk mounds while you are here (picture of Rock Eagle from tower). Our camp has a walking trail to the Rock Eagle effigy (aerial view), but you can also drive there (it's just off of US Highway 441) and park a few hundred yards from the site.  According to the site, the walking trail is a 2-hour or 2-mile hike with some hills. The white trail is quicker, the yellow trail (following the lake shore) is prettier. You get on the trail after crossing the boardwalk across the lake near cabin 36. See the MAP of Rock Eagle for more walking trails.
  • Off-site hiking: If you're going to hike, perhaps at the nearby-ish Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge or Oconee National Forest, be sure to bring your water bottle!