Earlier this year, we held our first Bootcamp. Bootcamp leader and volunteer, Sophia Nussey, reflects on the experience.
Why We Started
In our first couple of months as a registered charity, Hundred Heroines hosted a virtual volunteers bootcamp to kickstart the creation of content for our new site. Volunteers came on board for two weeks for a programme consisting of research, writing, training workshops, and exclusive webinars. We were able to compile research into our extensive catalogue of talented heroines, creating written profiles with which to raise their profile on our website and contribute to the publicly available resources and information on them.
In just a brief 2-week period, we onboarded over 20 volunteers who contributed what they could to the programme. The bootcamp ran virtually to allow participants to fit the activities and tasks around their schedule, and bootcampers got out what they put in. The volunteers who participated were able to sharpen their abilities in writing and research through a research training seminar and blog writing webinar, skills which they were then able to exercise by writing biographies and profiles on the Hundred Heroines. Moreover, bootcampers were invited to attend online courses in social media training and website building, and refine their creative sensibilities with a Ways of Seeing seminar with Ellie Ramsden, and a lecture from Heroine, Yan Wang Preston.
The bootcamp offered an invaluable opportunity for volunteers from a variety of different backgrounds to contribute to raising the profile of women in photography, and develop important hard and soft skills in the process. Our 2020 bootcamp cohort included volunteers from 4 continents, all with varying levels of experience. Some participants were just beginning their bachelor’s studies, whilst others had graduated with a Bachelors or Masters prior to the experience. In our group were photographers, civil service veterans, linguists, gender and educational specialists, and more. It was a joy to see so many unique individuals band together with the common goal of supporting Hundred Heroines, and it was fantastic seeing each of them grow in research and writing skills.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for the bootcamp, but I’ve found the whole experience really enjoyable and rewarding. I’ve personally gained a whole new respect for female photographers, particularly the early female photographers that I ended up focusing on, and am happy that this will now be shared with others.
As well as the content we were able to amass through the bootcamp, the feedback we got from bootcampers made the effort well worthwhile: “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for the bootcamp, but I’ve found the whole experience really enjoyable and rewarding. I’ve personally gained a whole new respect for female photographers, particularly the early female photographers that I ended up focusing on, and am happy that this will now be shared with others. I also found the training sessions very interesting, and was originally not expecting such a wide range extending beyond research methods, which have proved very useful.”
“Hundred Heroines has been amazing! For the first time in a long time, I have actually picked up my camera and done a mini project and I have to thank Hundred Heroines for it! Looking into all these amazing women has reignited something in me. I feel like myself for the first time in a long time. So, thank you for creating this platform and for letting it be a part of it.”
There were a wealth of reasons to launch a bootcamp this summer – not least to encourage greater appreciation of the visual arts during a time where gallery visits have become nonsensical or impossible – but among them was the drive to encourage engagement with creativity again. As such, the testimonials we received were heart-warming to read.
Since August, some of our cohort who polished their writing during bootcamp have become regular volunteers, and a few have even started interning with the Hundred Heroines team. Whilst the bootcamp was a vital opportunity for volunteers from any background to gain valuable skills in a short frame of time, it has also raised opportunities for those passionate about the visual arts and volunteering to make a sustained contribution to the efforts of a newly formed Arts charity.
Since our first 2020 Bootcamp we have also run a second programme in January 2021. We hope to make the bootcamp a permanent annual event in the Hundred Heroines calendar, and look forward to broadening the scope of participants even more. If you would like to know more about volunteering opportunities at Hundred Heroines, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org