Algonquin students build Campfire 150

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By Jaime Horne

The Campfire 150 team from left to right: Joshua de Vries, Brian Meagher, Chenda Hoeung, Yougen Xue and Jacob Trembetzky. Photo credit: Jerome Mizon.

Josh Devries thought he was up for the challenge of building The Campfire Project’s new online platform. Halfway through the project, he realized the magnitude of what he’d taken on.

“I knew it was bigger than other projects available, but I hadn’t realized the sheer scale of it,” said the Ottawa Algonquin College student.

Josh was one of five student volunteers from Algonquin’s Internet Applications and Web Development Program who worked on the development of the Campfire 150 website. Designed to create an online community of storytellers, Campfire 150 provides Canadians with a platform to share their stories about Canada’s future as well as their experiences around Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Unlike previous projects the students worked on in-class and on co-op assignments, Campfire 150 saw the students build a complete website from scratch – both the front-end (the part the user interacts with) and the back-end (the part that stores data). With this exciting development opportunity and the compelling mission of Campfire 150, Josh saw the project as “having a lot going for it,” and didn’t hesitate to sign up.

Others in the group, like Chenda Hoeung, were slightly more apprehensive about such a big project. The site was very different from a basic WordPress site where the backend was already in place. Josh’s leadership as project manager, along with the enthusiasm and collaborative efforts of the other team members, helped Chenda feel the project would be successful.

Mid-way through the project, the students regrouped and reassigned responsibilities as they realized the full scope of the challenge. After many late nights and over 1,000 volunteer hours, the students successfully completed the development of the Campfire 150 platform.

The platform will soon be live and ready to collect stories, allowing the project organizers to test functionality and and garner user experience feedback. Through the students’ hard work, the platform is on track to launch with partners in the spring of 2016.

Campfire 150 was privileged to tap into the time, energy and enthusiasm of these bright young minds. Their story of creating a space where Canadians can celebrate Canada’s 150th is the first of many tales to come.

Plus, this story has a happy ending: the students got an A+!