Camp Blogaway – Following Our Blogger Bliss

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An intrepid group of foodies find inspiration, wisdom, and rollicking good fun in the mountains of Southern California.

When Camp Blogaway beckons, few in the foodie world of social media know how to resist the siren call sent out by Patti Londre. She calls herself a “passionate cook and road warrior traveler,” but Patti’s Blogaway acolytes – bloggers and sponsors alike – call her Fearless Leader. Camp Blogaway has become an experience so treasured that some food bloggers return year after year.

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Campers, please obey all signs.


Cabot’s @candacekaru joined a fab group of foodies 2 find inspiration & fun in the mtns of SoCal! #campblogaway http://ow.ly/MAzgJ ​​@cabotcheese


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To understand the lure of this unique bootcamp for food and recipe bloggers, you first must know that it takes place in the Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino National Forest, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, at an elevation of 7,000 feet. It is a place of indescribable tranquility and beauty. And it is definitely a camp, complete with rustic cabins, wooden bunk beds, and a communal lodge where most of the camp activity takes place.

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Taking in the beauty of Jenks Lake.

Imagine, if you will, a gathering 90+ food bloggers – some seasoned veterans with enormous followings, some beginners who are just learning the ropes, all eager to learn and grow in their professional lives. Add in world-class speakers – chefs, journalists, photographers, recipe developers, food stylists, all eager to share their knowledge and expertise. To round out the group, throw in national food and wine brands, eager to share information and samples of their products as well as their social media programs and strategies. The combination creates an atmosphere of education, camaraderie, sharing, and friendship rarely seen in professional settings.

From my point of view, as a representative of the 1200 farm families who own Cabot, it was exciting to connect not only with some of the members of our Cabot Cheese Board, like Gary House of Cooking Outdoors, Laura Bashar of Family Spice, and Lisa Lin of Healthy Nibbles & Bits, but to reconnect with Cheese Board member and Blogaway sidekick Mimi Holtz of Mimi Avocado. It was also a rare opportunity to get to know new blogging friends and share the story of the Cabot Creamery Cooperative and its farmers. As a cheddar evangelist, it was fun to introduce them a wide variety of Cabot’s award-winning cheeses.

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The Cabot pinecone cheese balls were a total hit with the campers. Photo courtesy of Mimi Avocado

Camp Blogaway is unique in that it treats bloggers, presenters, and brand representatives equally – everyone who attends is an official camper, with all the perks and pleasures associated with that status. Virtually all the activities, from panel sessions to demonstrations to lectures and hiking, were open to everyone.

For those willing to wake up with the dawn, each day started with a hike to nearby Jenks Lake, featuring breathtaking vistas. Admittedly some of our breath was taken away by the altitude, but the natural beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest could not be denied. Hikers lingered over the spectacular sight of this pristine setting before heading back for a full day of activities – so much to learn, so much to absorb.

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Whether learning how to improve our natural light photography skills from renowned food photographer Christina Peters or how to visualize success in our careers from the inimitable, deeply knowledgeable, and hilariously inspirational food stylist Denise Vivaldo, each session offered a unique and valuable perspective in the highly competitive and idiosyncratic world of food blogging.

Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, is an internationally recognized expert on food trends and consumer behavior, as well as being the food trends editor and correspondent for NBC News’ Today show. Phil’s presentation, titled ‘Walking the Tightrope,’ was a cautionary tale for food bloggers on the pitfalls that can be encountered as a paid spokesperson and how to avoid them.

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The Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert, has stories. Really, really good stories! Photo courtesy of Mimi Avocado

Dr. Jean Layton, the Gluten Free Doctor and Sabrina Modelle, The Tomato Tart tackled the topic of Google+ and how bloggers can optimize their SEO using best practices, offering insight to this often controversial and misunderstood platform.

Dalyn Miller of Dalyn Miller PR brought his unique perspective on the world of public relations engagement with a talk on spokesperson blunders and how not to get invited back on the show with his talk titled “My Lazy Sunday Morning or How I Slept Through My Alarm and Got Banned from Fox & Friends for Life.” It was the stuff a spokesperson’s nightmares are made of, but also wildly entertaining while offering tips on how to do it right.

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Cabot cheddar and Wente wine? Don’t mind if I do!

A how-to cupcake decorating workshop by sponsor Wilton produced gorgeous – and delicious – cupcakes for the first night’s dessert. But dessert had to wait. Before dinner, campers got to meet new friends and greet old ones on the lodge deck. As the sun set through the tall pines, the group got to savor four different varieties of Wente wines – each with a distinctive and sophisticated profile.

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Cabot and campers – a perfect match! Photo courtesy of Mimi Avocado.

And of course, when the company is as knowledgeable as the Blogaway campers, only The World’s Best Cheddar would do to complete the cocktail hour. I created the signature Cabot Pinecone Cheese Ball in several different flavors for this VIP group. The pinecones fit perfectly into the rustic setting. Each one highlighted a different Cabot cheddar and was studded with California almonds, another Blogaway sponsor.

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Camp food was not what I expected it to be. Tasty and imaginative dishes emerged from the camp kitchen, created from foods provided by sponsors. There was a divine vegetable slaw that incorporated Red Walnuts, crisp fresh snap peas for snacking from Mann’s, protein and anti-oxidant packed sweet potatoes from North Carolina Sweet Potatoes. There were fresh, healthy Safest Choice eggs for breakfast. We learned about their unique pasteurization process that eliminates the danger of common egg-born bacteria. And speaking of healthy, imagine my surprise when I learned how to make a lentil-based fudge from the folks at Canadian Lentils. OK, we also had a number of savory lentil dishes, but the fudge? That was a game changer. Potatoes from Klondike Brands came in a rainbow of colors and varieties. When combined in an au gratin recipe with Cabot cheddar, the results were positively swoonworthy!

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Five kinds of Cabot cheddar = five kinds of yum!

In addition to daytime sessions, there were also presentations after dinner each night. Still there was plenty of time for socializing around a roaring fire in the lodge, complete with great conversation and that most traditional camp fare – S’mores. There may or may not have been a few in-cabin parties that went into the wee hours. What happens at Blogaway…well, you get the picture.

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“Follow Your Bliss.” Those were our Camp Blogaway marching orders.

As a kid, I never got to go to sleep-away camp. Camp Blogaway was the ultimate foodie fantasy camp offering all the fun, great learning opportunities, and the kind of lasting friendships that you would hope for in a camp experience.

I’m already dreaming about Camp Blogaway 2016.


If you would like to learn more about Cabot Creamery Cooperative or get more delicious recipes, click here. You can also sign-up for our Newsletters so that you don’t miss a thing.

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Candace Karu reports on all there is to discover and love about food and farming as well as communicating Cabot’s mission to support community, volunteerism, and sustainability. Whether online, on air, or in person, her job is to amplify the passion and commitment of the 1200 farm families who own Cabot. When Candace is not representing Cabot, she lives, cooks, and works out in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Comments

mimidholtz | May 06, 2015 | 11:54am

Candace, you have captured the magic of Camp Blogaway! What a great time we had! Looking forward to welcoming you back to California next year! As a displaced Vermonter, I’m so happy to find Cabot cheeses available in California. Thanks for coming and bringing the cheese!

Dana @ FoodieGoesHealthy | May 06, 2015 | 1:48pm

Candace, this is a fun read that captures the Camp Blogaway experience. I enjoyed meeting you there. And Cabot cheese makes a mean quesadilla.

    Candace | May 06, 2015 | 3:02pm

    Your impromptu cocktail party – especially the quesadillas and guacamole – was so much fun. And your panel was inspiring and informative. It was wonderful meeting you at Camp Blogaway. I hope I can go again next year!

shockinglydelicious | May 06, 2015 | 5:54pm

What a great wrap-up to a wonderful weekend! I enjoyed meeting you. I’m still dreaming of how good the Cabot horseradish cheese is.

    Candace | May 07, 2015 | 6:12am

    So glad you enjoyed the wrap up Dorothy. Meeting campers like you left me inspired and motivated. I’m so glad I got to bring all that great Cabot Cheddar with me to share!

Lana | May 07, 2015 | 12:05am

Candace, What a great recap! It was lovely meeting you and sharing the cabin with you! LOVED the hair-do the last day:)
For some weird reason I thought pineapples, rather than pine cones when I first saw you making the cheese balls:)
And today, my friend George Menzelos, who won the bag of Cabot cheese, shared that awesome Vintage New York with me, along some good wine:)

    Candace | May 07, 2015 | 6:09am

    Thank you Lana…it was such an extraordinary gathering. Congratulations on your well-deserved Golden Pinecone award. Your panel presentation was inspirational and it is clear that so many campers adore you.

Gary House | May 07, 2015 | 1:24pm

Candace, It was a great pleasure to finally meet you at Camp Blogaway! Your re-cap of our weekend was simply perfect! I can hardly wait for next year to roll around, what a great event to be a part of. Thank you Cabot Creamery for being a sponsor of Camp Blogaway, sending Candace and all of your fabulous support of me and my outdoor cooking adventures 🙂

    Candace | May 07, 2015 | 1:31pm

    Gary, I was so glad to get a chance to meet one of my favorite Cheese Boarders. Camp Blogaway exceeded my very high expectations – what a great group of people and such a magnificent setting. I was so happy to represent the Cabot farmers at this event. Fingers crossed for a return engagement!

ShePaused4Thought | May 07, 2015 | 2:44pm

Fabulous post. I can’t wait to make the Cabot Pinecone Cheese Ball at my next party. Great cheese, great people, great time. Thanks for making the weekend so delicious.

    Candace | May 07, 2015 | 2:53pm

    Thanks so much, Cathy! It was such a great time, with so many extraordinary people. You deserved a special Golden Pinecone for Camp Fashionista.

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