If you missed my last post, Camp Blogaway or Bust! go back and catch up on the story. Did I make it to Camp Blogaway? YES! Did I make it back to church to direct the choir on Saturday? YES! Was it as great as I thought it would be? EVEN GREATER!
After a beautiful drive up into the San Bernardino National Forest, I finally arrived at Camp Blogaway! I didn’t want to miss a minute of the fun, so I left early Friday morning to arrive in time to help with the set-up. We filled 110 giant swag bags, set up tables, put on table cloths and did whatever needed doing…all the while introducing ourselves and chatting. By the time the rest of the campers began to arrive, the party was in full swing! Nobody was left out … everyone was eager to meet and greet! Old friends as well as newbies!
The setting was magnificent…the beautiful Camp de Bennevile Pines in the Barton Flats area of the San Bernadino National Forest. Meetings were held in the lodge and everyone slept in cabins with multiple bedrooms and baths. At first it was a challenge walk up the hills to the cabins due to the altitude, but we all drank plenty of water and soon forgot we were more than 6,000 ft. above sea level!
The speakers and presentations were top-notch. On-site sponsors provided food and wine, gifts to use in our kitchens, informative speakers and opportunities to learn about products, knives, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs from Australia, as well as butter and cheeses from Ireland! I won’t list them all here, but be prepared to hear about many of the products in future posts!
Speakers presented valuable information and guidance on blogging issues and offered thought-provoking insights that will influence many of us for months to come. In this relatively intimate setting, campers had plenty of opportunity to interact with the speakers, the sponsors and with each other. Everyone was open and friendly…no cliques at this blogging conference!
I left camp at noon on Saturday and drove back to Escondido to direct my church choir for an important church event that evening. Even though I missed some wonderful sessions, fellow campers were tweeting photos from those sessions, so I was able to follow along on my IPhone. I decided to sleep at home that night and get up at 4:15 am to drive back to camp. Watching the sun rise and the Super Moon set as Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” played on the radio was a highlight of my drive! I never would have seen the early morning light on the drive back up the mountain if I hadn’t needed to leave camp. What I thought would be a severe inconvenience became a precious gift. The choir’s singing was over-the-top, and the drive on deserted roads in the wee hours of the morning allowed me to glimpse scenes of the beautiful California countryside not seen at other times of the day.
One of the highlights of camp was the Networking Table, where bloggers could display products and samples from sponsors, business cards, recipes, promotions…a creative mix of information, contests, give-aways as diverse as the bloggers who brought them! Here are a few photos of the table, which stretched across the front of the room between the speakers’ platforms. I brought avocados from our family farm, and avocado cutters from the California Avocado Commission. If you come to Camp Blogaway next year, you’ll want to bring something for this table! There’s a prize for the display voted most effective. This year’s prize was won by Miso Hungry Podcast!
Our Fearless Leader and camp founder, Patti Londre is well experienced in organizing wonderful events, having been a PR professional for years. She had thought of EVERYTHING and offered nuggets of advice throughout the weekend. Her inclusive hospitality and fun-loving spirit was seasoned with her eagle-eyed attention to detail and sprinkled with a delightful wit.
Patti even painted this terrific photo board so that every camper could be the Best Blogger in the World!
By the end of the weekend, I was even more certain that coming to Camp Blogaway was exactly the right thing for me to do! When we all walked down to the flagpole to have our group photo taken, I felt so grateful to be part of the weekend. I completely understand now why my friend Rachael (La Fuji Mama) encouraged me to do whatever it took to make it happen…as she put it, “There are so many wonderful people who you need to meet and who need to meet you!” I didn’t understand when she said it, but I do now.
During the entire weekend, Patti reminded us about “The Golden Pine Cone Award”, which she bestows on a blogger who, in her observation, best exemplifies the spirit of Camp Blogaway. Imagine my utter surprise when I realized that she was talking about ME! Honestly, I can’t remember feeling more honored and less deserving! In a room full of amazing creative bloggers with enormous talent and savvy, I accepted this unique and priceless trophy.
If you are a food blogger, or want to be a food blogger, consider coming to Camp Blogaway next year! Add your name to the e-mail list to get updates on camp news and advance notice of the opening of registration. Be ready to sign up on the date in January when registration opens, because this incredible weekend sells out quickly! Mark your calendar now…you’ll meet some fabulous people, learn lots of exciting information, try some amazing products, eat delicious food, breathe sweet mountain air, … and go home full of inspiration for creating more recipes, forging new relationships, taking terrific photos and writing lots of new posts! Just one word of warning: clean out a room before you go…you’ll need space for all the swag you’ll be bringing home !
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