May 302013
 
Camp Blogaway 2013

Happy campers! Thanks Christina and Joel for this beautiful photo!

I spent the last weekend in the San Bernardino Mountains, just on the other side of Big Bear where the Technicolor blue sky meets majestic peaks enveloped in snow. I would have been happy gazing at the blue expanse through the pine branches alone, breathing in the crisp and sharp mountain air, listening to the gurgling of streams and feeling the strain in my leg muscles as I climbed yet another hill covered with pine needles.

Camp Blogaway 2013 from bibberche.com

But I was not alone. I shared this beautiful spot with more than 100 fellow food bloggers attending Camp Blogaway, a brainchild of our own Patti Londre who orchestrated every little detail perfectly. Yes, some girls had to sleep on upper bunks (do not get me started on the VIP treatment of our several token boys!), the beds squeaked, we had to leave the water in the sinks dripping to avoid freezing, and they warned us that there are real bears roaming the property. But this was the best all-inclusive vacation I have had in a long time.

What was included?

Clumsy and not so clumsy attempts at making the most photogenic Bloody Mary with an amazing array of garnishes provided by Duda Farm Fresh Foods (Where can I find some of those celery straws?).

Bloody Mary from Duda Fresh Farms

Christina’s tomato juice and vodka concoction was the winner of our table

Networking table displays that challenged bloggers to come up with the theme that represented them the best.

Wine tasting by Wente Vineyards that continued barely interrupted throughout the weekend.

Turning a few pounds of Idaho® potatoes into a mound of thin slices using sleek and shiny, stainless steel “Ferrari” OXO mandolin.

Standing in line waiting for meals and gabbing happily to people in front and behind.

Leaning back on the couch by the fire, browsing through a pile of cooking magazines, ripping the best ones without feeling guilty.

Controlling the urge to be the first one to spoil a perfectly arranged platter of Jarlsberg cheeses, fruits, and crackers, deciding what to try first: triple-cream Brie or Snøfrisk, a mild, Norwegian goat cheese unfamiliar to most of us.

Getting up at 6:30 to make it to the walk around Jenks Lake, cutting through the forested hills and standing in awe at the indomitable beauty of  the calm sparkling surface of the mountain lake, surrounded by silence, interrupted only by pebbles that rolled under your feet.

A warm bowl of Bob’s Red Mill cereal topped with steaming stewed fruit right after that morning walk.

Making the best lunch combo using CravOn “never fried French fries”, hangar steak, carnitas, and a dozen complementary condiments for a chance of winning a $250.00 gift certificate to Sur La Table.

Zumba class that started with first rays of sun, with reggaeton and salsa tunes blasting from a boombox waking up squirrels (Yes, we were eternally grateful that there were no mirrors anywhere in sight!).

Uncontrollable giggling while making our way back to the cabin past midnight, warmed by cabernet and limoncello, our cheeks flushed from excitement and our step somewhat unsteady.

A tightly-packed pink swag bag whose contents inevitably spill all over the trunk on the way back…

I have been writing my blog for three years and this was not my first food bloggers’ conference. I don’t consider myself a novice, but after each session during the weekend, little bubbles of inspiration settled in my brain and I felt energized, motivated, and empowered. At any other conference you have to pick the sessions that interest you, as many are scheduled at the same time. But at Camp Blogaway everyone gets a chance to learn everything, and this year again we were treated to some truly talented and creative speakers.

Down and Dirty Truth About Being a Cookbook Author, Trina Kaye and Chef George Geary.

What’s Wrong With My Shot?, Denise Vivaldo.

Strategies to Keep a Blog Going and Not Run out of Steam, Stephanie O’Dea and Jessica Fisher.

How Bloggers Trip Themselves up and Savvy Tips to Avoid Traps, Sarah Henry.

Blueprint for Cobbling Together a Bona-Fide Food Career, Karen MacKenzie and Bonnie Tandy-Leblang.

E-Books – Could This Be Your Path to Becoming a Book Author?, Amy Treadwell and Nancie McDermott

Inside Scoop on How PR Agencies Work, Dee Munson.

The “Business of Me,” Not Just My Blog, Patti Londre (as our intended speaker, RaShelle Roberts, could not make it to camp).

Celery from Duda Fresh from bibberche.com

Long-stemmed and red celery from Duda Farms

Patti wanted us to mingle, and we mingled. She encouraged us to talk to strangers, and we discovered that most of the strangers are genuinely warm, nice, and sincere people, eager to open up and share their lives and experiences. There wasn’t one of us who did not lament the lack of time and wished for another couple of hours devoted to forming friendships. We laughed, we giggled, we screeched, and we cried.

We recognized our similarities and praised the differences. We shared, learned, discussed, and questioned every aspect of our blogging lives. And as the afternoon on Sunday approached, we said our hasty goodbyes, hugged each other, waved through the car windows, and promised to keep in touch. The weekend was magnificent. The farewells were emotional, with a tear or two hidden between the smiles.

As we were driving down the mountain, the reality was slowly coming toward the horizon.  But I realized that no matter how many hills I have to climb and descend, I know that I can do it, propped by the smiles and kind words of my friends.

  9 Responses to “This One Time, at Camp Blogaway…”

  1. So beautifully written, and so nice spending time with you.

  2. What a lovely description of Camp Blogaway! I was sad to miss it this year, but I’m so happy to see what a wonderful time you had! :-) xo

  3. It was like I was there with you… and yet not. Sounds like a fabulous time.

  4. What a wonderful weekend Lana, wish I could have been there!

  5. Lana, you captured the essence of our Camp Blogaway experience beautifully! It was relaxing, inspiring, hilarious and affirming…and especially great to finally meet YOU!

  6. [...] Bibberche – This One Time, at Camp Blogaway… [...]

  7. I *so* want to be able to do this as some point. Sounds just wonderful.

  8. Lana,
    Wonderful to have you at Camp B! Your description is perfect in every way.

  9. What a wonderful time it was. Thank you for all your help and effort that you put in to making this camp a great experience. I can’t wait for next year.

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