WordCamps are locally organized WordPress conferences that are not run by Automattic (the WordPress company.) Instead, they are run entirely by local grassroots volunteers, and financed largely by sponsors. Despite the grassroots nature of the conferences, there is a central website, WordCamp Central that has a schedule of upcoming camps and tells a bit of their history. “The first WordCamp was organized in San Francisco by Matt Mullenweg in 2006. Since then, local communities around the world have organized over three hundred WordCamps, and we anticipate that number will pass a thousand within the next couple of years.”
WordCamps always have multiple tracks, and both beginners and advanced users will find sessions of interest. And since they are not a for-profit conference, and usually are well-supported by sponsors, they are always a great deal. I’ve paid between $25 and $35 for two and three-day conferences that include lunch and snacks and cool WordPress swag ( t-shirts, coffee cups, and stickers).
I’ve been to four WordCamps in Southern California so far, and my advice is to just go! But it is very important to buy your ticket EARLY, as every WordCamp I’ve gone to has sold out rather quickly.