With Camp Blogaway just around the corner, my anticipation grows with excitement. Camp Blogaway is one of the most exclusive conferences a food blogger can attend. Only 100 lucky attendees will join the group for a weekend up in the San Bernardino Mountains for 3 days of learning how to take our blogs to the next level. Friendships will be made and some will be solidified in stone around the campfire. The curator behind this special event is Patti Londre and she will best explain what it all entails. This is my interview with the lovely Patti….
Me: Why did you start Camp Blogaway?
Patti: FIRST, let me tell “how” I started it… since 2005, I have owned another camp business called Camp GetAway for Mothers & Others, putting on retreats up in the local mountains. This was a fun side business for me, as I also had a food PR agency, working for some of the nation’s largest food brands. In April 2009, I decided to launch my own blog, called Worth The Whisk. And around September of that year is when it struck me… food bloggers would LOVE a full weekend learning how to better our craft. I know, I know, there are other “blogger conferences,” but my idea was CAMP. Totally different – peaceful, serene, a place to slow down and think. Cabins, roaring fireplace, big lodge. I knew how to run a camp, so the business model just clicked. Priced right, lodging included, just get yourself here.
The answer to WHY I started it is, I felt there was a real need for this specific type of learning atmosphere, and from my PR experience, consciously connecting brands with bloggers would make big things happen for our attendees. Other conferences, that isn’t the focus. It is here.
Me: Since Camp Blogaway sold out so quickly this year, are you looking to expand capacity in the year to come?
Patti: Nope, not my vision. There are enough conferences out there to choose from, this one sold out is because people like it the way that it is… around 100 people, mountain venue, great speaker lineup, awesome sponsors, excellent value. If they missed out this year, they will plan earlier next year.
Me: In addition to the bounty of information the sessions offer, what are some of the take aways you hope your campers will leave home with?
Patti: Relationships with fellow bloggers, and relationships with sponsors. A better understanding of how bloggers can work with corporations and public relations representatives. And a clearer vision of where their own blogs can take them.
Me: Can you tell us some success stories that have transpired from previous camps?
Patti: Several campers have told me about personal relationships they forged with our sponsors since they attended Camp. And those produced working gigs for them. If you look at the Idaho Potato Commission website and blog, you will see exactly what I mean, so many of those bloggers are our campers!
Me: What has been your favorite moment from camp?
Patti: There is no one favorite moment, there are hundreds. I love it when the itinerary comes off like clockwork. I love seeing speakers engaged in conversations with campers, and sponsors getting to know bloggers personally. I personally love our facility, and every camp I make time to sit in the hot tub and stargaze, chatting with some blogger friends. Slowing down is very important.
Me: Since most conferences are intent on amplifying their message….Why have you made it a point to have everyone disconnect from the internet during camp?
Patti: Because we are already there. Marketing (including social media) needs to take place far enough in advance to actually impact attendance. Other conference organizers feel that on-site blogging and tweeting and Facebook uploads benefit the conference, but that doesn’t click with me. People NOT at camp either (a) don’t want to come, (b) didn’t make the effort to attend or (c) couldn’t come for some other reason. My mission is not to promote Camp Blogaway. My mission is to deliver a full itinerary of valuable education to the bloggers while simultaneously delivering a campful of potential blogger relationships to the sponsors. Remember, they have a mission being there, too, which is to get to know how bloggers tick. One last point, to a speaker, looking out at laptops is annoying (“are they listening?” “are they emailing their kids?”). Unplug, be present, listen, learn, ask questions, absorb. You can tweet and Facebook upload at the breaks.
Me: Smores or Hot Dogs?
Patti: Hot dogs. With mustard. Considering how many camps I have produced, I’ve had my fill of smores.