It was one week ago today that I returned from Camp Blogaway Food Blogger Bootcamp and I have been thinking about how to write about it for that whole time. It took about 24 hours for my adrenalin to return to normal, then I slept for 18 hours after the crash. Then I went through all the printed and hand-written information I had brought home. I viewed the 150 photographs I took to get a usable amount and photoshopped them to blog size. I read all the posts the other attendees had written. The slideshow from the Camp Blogaway website, and What Other Campers Said and Comments were fun to read.
The swag from my goodie bag covered my whole dining room table. There were 30 pamphlets alone from sponsors, which included about 70 recipes for their products. These sponsors include: Lindsay Olives, Country Bob’s Sauce, Vidalia brands Onions, Woolwich Dairy Chevrai, Goodcook.com, Zespri Kiwifruit, National Pork Board, California Walnuts, Westland Old Amsterdam Cheese, National Onion Association, regionalbest.com, Lotus Foods: A World of Rice and BKW Seasonings.
Then I went over pages and pages of my written notes from the speakers: Photography with Art Ramirez, Recipe Writing with Barbara Ostman, Food Styling with Denise Vivaldo, Running Your Blog like a Business with Patti Londre and Search Engine Optimization with Danny Jauregui.
Well, truthfully, I didn’t know where to start writing. So I decided to show the photos and let the chips fall where they may.
I left Manhattan Beach about 10:00 AM and drove into Camp around 12:30 PM. I was early, so I helped load the goodie bags and attached pens to the Camp Handbook which everyone received. We were all instructed to back our cars into their parking spaces, nose out facing the road down the mountain, in case there was an emergency, like a forest fire, we could get out fast. We all got name tags, which we wore all weekend, and we each decorated a visor with our blog name, which was given to someone else who had to find us and return it. A “get to know you” adventure.
The only time I spent in my cabin was to sleep. The rest of the time we were in the Lodge where resided the coffee bar and the fireplace, where marshmallows were later roasted for s’mores and we did Fireside Lodge Lounging.
The first organized activity was the Wilton Piping Class. Everyone got a brownie, a cookie and a cupcake to decorate. First we practiced, then decorated for real.
Our works of art were destined for a contest, which would award the winner with a gigantic Wilton decorating kit. Dorothy Reinhold of Shockingly Delicious won this competition, which was actually announced Sunday morning. You can see her winning entry on her website.
As you can see, everyone contributed, some more seriously than others. There’s A Newf in My Soup was serious. Greg at Sippity Sup and his worms, not so much. While the Wilton method is not my style, I played along, but I thoroughly enjoyed the outspoken Marla at Family Fresh Cooking who said in her post, “We built silly frosted cakes as an “ice breaker” activity.”
The room in my cabin was quite small with two bunk beds and barely room to turn around. Fortunately there were only two people per room, so I had the top bunk upon which to put all the stuff I brought. I had to drive my car up the hill through the forest to unload it all. You can see an example of the fish artwork on the cabin walls and the stained glass on the cathedral windows of the lodge.
Saturday morning we got our group photograph taken and then it was back to the lodge for the whole day of lectures. Here you can see Art Ramirez talking about photography and photoshop. I was particularly fascinated by the Sponge Tool and Liquify Tool instruction. Denise Vivaldo was as instructive and humorous as ever. The rep from the National Onion Association instructed us on how to dice an onion.
After the photography lecture, we were instructed to go out on the lodge deck and practice our photography skills. We could photograph our piping treats or some peanuts.
Our Fearless Leader, Patti Londre, of Worth the Whisk, was also out on the deck, so I photographed her as she mugged for the camera.
Sunday morning, after reloading my car and driving it back to the parking lot, I arrived at the lodge, only to find that people were still piping. These guys were really into the piping thing and I was wondering if they had been there all night, piping away.
After we ate our brunch, it was time for the awards to be given out. As I mentioned, the Wilton Piping Award was given. Then the winner of the “Guess how may olives are in the jar” was announced. And finally the Golden Pinecone Award for the blogger who epitomizes the best food blogger characteristics. The winner, of course, Rachael of La Fuji Mamma.
The one big realization I had during this whole weekend is that these food bloggers were a really smart group of women. I heard the statement “When I was in law school…” a number of times. The two I enjoyed talking to the most were my roommate Andrea Juarez of ForkFingersChopsticks (yes, she’s a lawyer) and her blog tells the minute details and history of ingredients. Current posts reveal everything you ever wanted to know about popcorn. It’s really interesting. The other was a fellow cabin-mate Adair Seldon of LentilBreakdown. If you want to read a food blog filled with smart, wicked humor, hers is the place to go. I’m so glad I met you guys.
The weekend was over and I am already looking forward to next year. Farewell Camp Blogaway.