Over the past weekend, I was lucky enough to be gifted a wonderful trip to CAMP by Mike. It was an experience that I will never forget.
I never went to summer camp as a kid so coming to CAMP at a beautiful YMCA campsite was a wholly new experience. I never knew what it would be like to be dropped into a group of strangers and expected to talk and network. I have been to a few networking events in our field, but they were always in a space where I would know at least a few people and where I could rely on that person to keep me company in case. This was the first time where I would be plopped in with a bunch of other creative entrepreneurs and just have to make friends. I was nervous as hell.
CAMP is a cross between a business conference, networking event, and a traditional summer camp. Every day we had fun activities like Campfire inspirational talks, classes that we got to choose, and Yoga twice a day! The variety of events ran the gamut, from Block Printing and Stenciling to How to create an effective newsletter. It’s run by the amazing Sonja Rasula who also runs the Unique USA craft shows.
In a lot of ways CAMP reminded me of Conventions and Networking Events that a lot of creative Entertainment artists go to all the time.
At CAMP we weren’t allowed to have our phones or any other method of internet communication, so it wasn’t easy to pull up somebody’s work on your iPhone. I found this to be a really great thing because I got to meet people without having to immediately pull out my phone and stick my nose in it.
When attending any conference, or convention or anyplace where you will be networking with your peers I had a few thoughts after CAMP that I thought I would share.
Lessons I learned at CAMP
1) Get your pitch DOWN
Whoever you are, if you have a business or if you’re an artist, knowing who you are, and who you want to be, and being able to get your pitch down to only a few sentences will help a lot. For me, I hadn’t fully formed my pitch before going and I found it evolving every day I was there. At the beginning it was all about what I thought the other person would find most interesting about me, but as the days went on, I found myself tailoring my message to being about who I wanted to be and presenting myself as the vision I had for myself. This was incredibly empowering and has helped me to focus my efforts after I have returned home.
2) Don’t put down what you do
Being at CAMP, I found that I was always qualifying my artwork. “Oh I’m an illustrator, but my work isn’t cool.” I found myself always trying to downplay my own work. I think I was so nervous to be surrounded by all of these highly successful and creative people that I didn’t want them to think I was on their level. At the end of the trip, I was kicking myself and I realized that what I was doing was worth holding up with pride. Even if you meet people that you admire, you should always carry yourself head held up high. It changes your whole perspective if you lift your gaze just a bit.
3) Unplugging can be invaluable.
I noticed a lot of the people at CAMP were natural introverts. It was a difficult thing for everyone to be very open and excited about everything, but it was also great to pull ourselves out of our own work and take a look around. If we were all allowed our phones I don’t think that we would have made friends as quickly or been as engaged with the activities. Were there awkward moments where I wish I could bury my nose in my phone? Sure, but being without it was incredibly empowering. I found afterwards that I didn’t really need it and connecting with nature and other creative people was much better in the end. It forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to participate in a real way with every conversation I was a part of.
Obviously I learned a ton of other things at CAMP, but I’m glad that I could share this with you guys! I hope that these tips will help you in the coming Convention season and will maybe get you to consider going to a program like CAMP or CTN Expo! (and maybe leave your phone at home)