If there existed an award for Worst Blogger Ever, I would get it. One might think that over the years I would get better at things like SEO optimization and reader engagement and monetization. Instead, I dropped my ads, continue to reply to comments sporadically (at best), and I just recently learned that SEO is not a spinoff band of REO Speedwagon. Which is kind of a relief, because they really suck.
So, when I get invited to a blogger workshop, I jump at the opportunity. Although I did warn them that if they started talking about boring stuff I was going to zone them out and play Candy Crush. Plus, the workshop was at the YMCA Camp Hanes, which is one of my favorite places, and they were going to offer us a summer camp discount, and give us one for our readers, AND they were going to feed us. Really, all they needed to say was 'free food' and I'd be there.
I picked up my friend Kristen from Four Hens and a Rooster and Ten to Twenty Parenting in the Big Lots parking lot (true) and drove up Camp on a cool and drizzly morning. Kristen is, among other things, a blogger and social media expert (true) and was going to lead the workshop. My job was to help out if anyone got stuck on a level of Candy Crush. Let's just say Kristen did all the work that day.
We were joined by some local bloggers who actually know what they're doing, including Triad Moms on Main, Southern as Biscuits, My Winston-Salem, City Girl on Hicks Farm, You Can't Make This Stuff Up, and AttaGirl Says, as well as The Amazing Jen from Camp Hanes. She is The Amazing Jen because when you say things like - Hey Jen! Can we shoot some stuff after this? She says, "Sure!". Also because she is incredibly well read and geeks out when she gets retweeted by an author. She is my kind of nerd.
Everyone talked about blogging and I learned several things I will most likely not put into practice. I also said the word 'anus' and made an inappropriate butt sex joke (two separate incidents), so I feel like my contribution was worthwhile and noted.
Then we got to walk around Camp Hanes and talk about how fantastic it is. If you know me, chances are you know how passionate I am about Camp. My oldest is going into her eighth summer at Camp Hanes, my middle is getting ready for her first. I do not know that I have ever experienced a place, or a group of people, so joyfully committed to helping kids become their best selves through camp. It honestly sounds kind of silly, but I don't know how else to put it. Every summer, I listen to kids talk about how camp makes them mentally, physically, and spiritually stronger. It is transformative, in the very best way.
Camp Hanes does some really special things for kids - from a camp geared toward kids on the autism spectrum to kids with diabetes, to children of military servicemen and women. They offer programming year round - corporate team building and reunions, adventure parties for teens and outdoor education for school groups, YMCA day camp and residential camp. This weekend, they even offer a Winter Camp - which, I'm assuming, features lots and lots of s'mores.
It's moderately priced and they offer discounts for early registration ($100 off before December 31), Y members ($50 off), sibling discounts, and financial aid is available. Additionally, SFC readers get $50 off using the code SUMMERCAMPBLOG.
OK, you may be saying, sounds like a great place, BUT I LIVE IN RUSSIA! Or, I DONT HAVE KIDS! Or, I'M A HORSE! (That reads blogs, okay, whatever.) But you still want to help out a child who needs that financial aid. There is a button at the top of this page, and also on the Camp Hanes website, about the Send a Kid to Camp program. And right now, a generous private benefactor is matching all new donations, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000. So, if you give $1, it will be matched for a total of $2, and you've helped a kid enjoy an awesome 10 minutes at camp. Way to go.
( Really, give more than a dollar. $5 would be cool. $25 would be awesome. $100 and I will kiss you on the mouth, unless you're that horse.)
It was a great day. I learned that I love Camp Hanes, I am an even worse blogger than I thought, and everyone thinks the word 'anus' is funny. I'd call that a 'WIN'.