Rails Camps are generally run at venues that cater for large groups with dormitory rooms. Often, their usual clients are school groups or scouts. They're usually pretty lo-fi - shared bathrooms, basic bedding, etc. The advantages are that these venues can sometimes hold 150+ people, and usually are not particularly expensive.
Researching for venues can sometimes be tricky - but searching for school and scout campsites is a good place to start. It's highly recommended that you visit the venue if at all possible to confirm it's going to be fit for purpose.
Rails Camps in Australia run from Friday afternoon through to Monday morning, and occur in the middle of the year (June or July), or towards the end of the year (usually November, sometimes December). So, that should give you a decent timeframe for enquiring about available weekends.
It's worth keeping in mind the weather. While we've not been perfect at this, there's a rough goal of having southern camps in November, and northern camps in June/July, which generally leads to the more pleasant conditions.
You'll also want to check about related events that may potentially conflict, including:
If at all possible, steer clear of running a Rails Camp in direct competition with these events - and ideally have a few weeks, if not a month, gap between any of the camp events.
Camp locations have historically been within an hour or so from the nearest city and/or airport - ideally, somewhere easily accessible by cars and buses. Sometimes other modes of transport have been required (e.g. ferries) - which can add to the sense of adventure, but also adds extra organising overhead for you.
Most venues will likely cater for a variety of accessibility needs (i.e.: for those in wheelchairs, or using crutches, etc). It doesn't hurt to confirm with potential venues just to be sure.
These days, Rails Camps in Australia usually host 100+ people - sometimes they're closer to 150, sometimes they're closer to 80. Having a venue that can fit a larger group is preferred, but make sure you're clear with the venue on whether the hiring fee will be per-person or a flat rate, and if it's the former what the timeframes for final confirmation are.
Some people like to camp in actual tents at Rails Camp. These people usually number somewhere between a handful and a dozen - the clear majority of attendees prefer a dorm bed over a tent. It's worth confirming with the venue whether camping is allowed - it's certainly not a deal breaker, but it's good to be clear.
It's great to have several spaces available for the event:
You will need a projector for each session room, and probably for the dining or coding room as well (for introductory comments and Sunday night show-and-tell). If the venue doesn't have them, you can try asking local Ruby companies to borrow theirs.
Some campsites - especially those aimed at children, or those run by religious associations - have an alcohol-free policy. If you want to run a dry camp (which has not yet been tried, but this is your prerogative), then this won't be an issue, but otherwise, you'll need to keep going with your search for appropriate venues.
100+ developers means 100+ devices drawing power. Most campsites handle this without any issues, but if they're using generators rather than connected to the grid, this may be a sticking point. Something to confirm with any likely venues!
Most venues will have first aid supplies, but it's worth confirming. You should also check if they'll have any staff members on-site who are certified to provide first aid. Otherwise, you'll need to find some attendees who can volunteer in this capacity.
Most venues will require event insurance. Ruby Australia has an insurance policy for this very purpose which you should use.
Make sure you're across the emergency evacuation procedure for the venue, and that you or a member of the venue staff explains that on the Friday evening opening remarks.
It's also handy to have one of your organising team with a car in case anyone needs to urgently get back to civilisation (for example: in the case of injury).
If you're seriously considering a venue, get a written quote from them. It should state the following:
Once you have quotes from all your potential venues, decide on which is going to be the best fit. Then, discuss this venue with the Ruby Australia treasurer and anyone else you'd like feedback from.
If it is all reasonable then ask the venue for an invoice, send that invoice through to the treasurer and it will get paid. Congratulations, you now have a confirmed venue! This might be the time to announce the dates so potential attendees can plan accordingly.