Where do I even begin? So much was packed into Camp Blogaway: panels on everything from vlogging to building a community to the pressures of blogging. Breakout sessions designed to answer everyone's burning blogging questions. Did I learn a lot at Camp Blogaway? Yes. Did I learn a lot at Camp Blogaway that also has nothing to do with blogging? Yes.
I was always a little scared to go to camp when I was younger. I was never the instantly popular kid, or the beautiful girl, or even the brainiac. Mostly I was just the awkwardly inappropriate loud kid, and that doesn't always earn you friends. Plus, other kids don't always understand your "sense of humor" and think you're weird.
But when you have the fortunate opportunity of being surrounded by adults of all ages, from all walks of life whom all share a common interest, a magical thing happens. You feel in your element. You also feel like you belong to a community of pretty interesting people. I appreciate meeting different bloggers at these retreats and conferences; this is perhaps always my favorite part.
Also, I think that some 10 year-old part of me always gets nervous in big social situations, especially surrounding the subject of food. I'm always worried that people will view me differently because of my diet restrictions and limitations. Food is a very social animal. Will I stand out as the freak of the crowd?
The one universal thing that always happens is that I learn intimate details about people and their loved ones upon meeting them. I think that people feel they can share with me because when I introduce myself, I'm laying all my medical food issues bare. I learn within seconds of Mr., Mrs. or Child X in their life who too faces food/medical difficulties. We are not alone out there. And I am not a freak. (Some of you who know me may still argue I'm a bit of a freak, but we can agree it's for different reasons other than this.)
Connecting with others is the main reason I began blogging. And attending a wonderful weekend like Camp Blogaway is the ultimate way to connect. When you reach out over the internet to other bloggers, you form online friendships. But what if you had the opportunity to make those real in-person friendships too? I think Camp Blogaway invites you to find this out while improving your food blogging knowledge.
Aside from all the warm & fuzzy people meeting I was doing, I enjoyed particular highlights of the weekend, and I will tell you why:
Presentation by the California Avocado Commission
- I'm a bit of a whore for avocados, and in my opinion the only avocados worth eating come from California.
- I learned a lot about the avocado's life, from conception to fruiting.
- Tips and tricks regarding ripening and serving the fruit were flying left and right.
- They gave us beautiful avocados to take home; I'm making ice cream with them!
Presentation on Cake Decorating by Wilton
- People would probably assume that because I'm GF that I don't like cake decorating, they'd be wrong. I freaking love it.
- My table doing the decorating was AWESOME! I can only imagine we were the table that other tables at camp wished they could be.
- The presenters, Nancy & Gretchen, were extremely helpful in teaching decorating techniques to a room full of chatty food bloggers, some of whom avoid baking and decorating like the plague.
- We didn't decorate on actual cakes, so I felt comfortable participating. (Side note: Wilton edible products are not labeled as GF; I hope one day they will be. Until then, I will look forward to continuing to use their baker's tools.)
The Panel on Building a Blogging Community
- I know that everybody is always stressing about their scores & numbers, but let's remember we're blogging for people out there.
- It was refreshing to go to a Blogger Conference and hear from bloggers like Cheryl at 5 Second Rule and Susan at Food Blogga talking about connection rather than just dollar signs.
Needless to say, the staff was quite friendly and organized (Big shot out to Patti-pictured right-at Worth the Whisk), the kitchen always had plenty of food for me to eat that was GF, and my roommates were pretty awesome. Wente Vineyards also provided all the wine for the weekend, and Andrew, their ambassador was well loved by all.
So if you feel like getting away into the mountains, with good food, good company and good learnin' sign up to go to Camp Blogaway next year. And remember, they're GF, vegan, vegetarian AND allergic friendly.
See? Look at that gorgeous plate of GF pasta and veggies.