Never heard of Camp Blogaway? It’s one of my favorite weekends of the whole year! Food bloggers and representatives from sponsoring brands come from miles away to spend the weekend together in the San Bernardino mountains at Camp De Benneville Pines near Big Bear, Ca. I’ve been going to Camp Blogaway since 2012, and every year has been (literally) like a breath of fresh mountain air!
This year was no exception, as I was thrilled to share the experience with first-time camper Candace Karu of Cabot Creamery Cooperative. Candace and I met a few years ago when I was first learning to use social media. I noticed that she was representing one of my favorites, Cabot Cheese, so I sent her a tweet. Over time we connected and became social media friends, catching glimpses of each other’s lives through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
In 2012 I was lucky enough to meet Candace in person when The Farmer and I happened to be in Portland, Maine. Candace arranged to meet us at the Cabot Annex, drove us to a wonderful place on the coast for lunch, and showed us around Portland. I was eager to return the favor when I learned she would be coming to Camp Blogaway in southern California
Being a native of central Vermont, I grew up eating Cabot cheese. Every summer my children and I would visit family in Vermont, and we’d load our suitcases with Cabot cheese before returning to California. Now Cabot cheese is available in California, and every time I see it in the store it’s like seeing a piece of Vermont and home. Have you never been to Cabot, Vermont? Here’s my post about my latest visit.
I was thrilled to find out that Cabot would be a sponsor for Camp Blogaway and equally thrilled to host Candace here at the ranch. Since she was coming all the way from the east coast, it made sense to have the bedding, towels, and other supplies for camp all ready when she arrived. Candace had more important things to worry about: Cheese!
From the time her plane landed on Wednesday until the following Monday when I took her back to the airport, we found adventures everywhere! Candace had never visited an avocado farm before, and was eager to get out to explore the groves. We had record-breaking heat when she first arrived and there were even fires in the area, so she experienced the smell of smoke in the air that is usually reserved for autumn months. We had some adventures in the kitchen too, making avocado toast including Cabot cheese, of course!
We needed to get some supplies for the Cabot events at Camp Blogaway, so off we went to Target, but not just any Target. We had to ride the escalator that carries shopping carts too!
We needed a few more supplies, so we took the scenic route that included a lunch stop at my favorite Mexican restaurant. By the time we were ready to leave for Camp, we had a huge cooler full of cubed cheese in various flavors, prepared cheese balls, fresh rosemary from our garden, and all the supplies for our cheese tastings.
We packed our bedding, luggage, cheese, California almonds, props, and fresh avocados to share (of course) into the old Yukon and got a fairly early start. We had to make a stop at my favorite Home Goods store in Moreno Valley, and managed to arrive at a great little Mexican restaurant in Yucaipa just as they were opening for lunch. By the time we began the drive up the mountain, our bellies were full of enchiladas and both of us were ready for some Camp Blogaway fun!
The rest of the afternoon was a blur. We quickly dropped our stuff off at our cabins, parked with our car headed out in case of forest fire, and trudged up to the lodge, realizing that we were at a higher altitude than usual. After finding the cases of materials that Candace’s compadres mailed to camp from Cabot, and checking to make sure the kitchen received all the cheese needed for meals during Camp Blogaway, we hiked back to the sponsor cabin to finish the Pinecone Cheese Balls.
We used the California almonds that had been shipped ahead to the ranch, some fresh rosemary from our garden, and the Cabot cheese recipe that Candace whipped up in my kitchen the night before.
Candace did most of the set-up for the Cabot tasting while I participated in the first camp session, learning to make swirled cupcake decorations with Wilton colors and cake-making tools. The Cabot cheese paired perfectly with the Wente wines, as everyone gathered on the porch of the Lodge. Cabot cheeses were used in meals throughout the weekend, and campers had a chance to taste individual flavors on Saturday afternoon.
Once again, Candace was full of energy and enthusiasm as she set up the display with the supplies we had purchased before leaving for camp. All of our cheese-tasting gear was stored up at the sponsor cabin, but that was no problem for our Cabot-Energizer-Bunny, whose exercise routine for the weekend included lugging a cooler back and forth from the Lodge.
We both enjoyed all the sessions, talked to as many people as we could during the breaks, and partied into the evenings with our fellow campers. Early morning coffee by the fireplace in the lodge, hiking to the Lake, or quietly talking with our bunkmates, each year at Camp Blogaway adds another layer of friendship for the attendees who come back.
It’s hard to get to know all the new faces at camp because we need time to catch up with old friends. It’s important to get around and touch base with everyone though, and make sure to stay connected through social media after camp has ended. Each of us has much to share and much to offer. So many of the accomplishments that each of us has made can be directly attributed to the people we have met through Camp Blogaway. The magic happens long after camp has ended.
Each of us experiences the sessions in a slightly different way, and the relationships that develop during and after camp are uniquely our own. Our shared memories of our time at Camp Blogaway will be our bond as we meet up again throughout the coming years.
Part of the experience of Camp Blogaway is to read the posts written by each blogger after we return home. I was especially interested to read Candace’s account of her first time at camp. She truly captured the essence of Camp Blogaway in the best possible way. Our conversations during the weekend gave each of us much to ponder, as we continue our journeys. I can’t wait to see what magical opportunities and transformations will come to all my fellow campers in the coming year, and I’m very much looking forward to Camp Blogway 2016.
Many thanks to Patti Londre of Worth the Whisk, whose love, vision, knowledge, and skill make Camp Blogaway happen each year.