Finally......I'm sitting at my PC writing a blog post about Cookie Camp 2011. I've been trying to do this since I got home on Tuesday.....and so many other things have been vying for my attention.
I'm happy to be home.....and glad to be back to my cookie internet world. I've missed it....and you. But boy, was it fun to be face to face with many of my cookie heroes. :)
We had a blast at camp! It was a lot of work to plan.....and we didn't get much sleep while there.....but it was worth it ALL to have time with other very like-minded friends doing what we love. Many of us talked so much for those 4-5 days that we had lost our voices by the end of it. That says a lot... right there. ;)
Before I go any further, I want to address the questions I already know I'm going to be asked over and over again. "How did you find out about cookie camp?" "Why didn't the general "cookie decorating public" know about the event?" "How can I sigh up for next year?" "Why is it so exclusive?" etc etc
Cookie Camp was born last year when a few cookie decorators decided it would be so much fun to get together and share our experience and tips with one another. One of the decorators happens to run a Christian camp up in the Smoky Mountains....and she offered to arrange for us to go there to meet. We put together some ideas for an agenda....and away we went. Last year we had 14 participants.
Upon planning for our 2nd annual Cookie Camp this year, we realized the potential of an overwhelming number of decorators wanting to come, but we were not ready to accommodate a large gathering. Those of us planning it have very busy lives and this is just one more thing we've chosen to sacrifice time for. We decided to limit it to no more than 50 decorators....and since this is the only cookie decorating event we know about, we also decided to limit it to advanced decorators only. We believe those who have gained expertise in the art of decorating cookies should have a chance to be with others of like caliber......most of whom are all self taught. Since we already had a Flickr group of advanced decorators called "Cookie Queens", and there are more than 50 members in it.....we limited it to that group only. (Flickr is a site dedicated to sharing photos.)
We have hopes of expanding camp to a larger group in the future and maybe even doing a Cookie "Boot Camp" for beginning decorators......but for now, we are small and are limited to our own resources and the generous offers from some amazing sponsors.
This year's camp grew to 23 participants, and from this year's experience, we hope to assess what does and doesn't work and find the best schedule and agenda for future camps. We're still not sure when we'll be ready for a positive experience with a larger number. The desire is for it to be a well run and organized event. The last thing we want is to have people spend their hard earned money and vacation time to come to Cookie Camp and not have a terrific experience. Those organizing Cookie Camp are not trying to be exclusive or discriminating......just trying to create a special event carefully, without growing too quickly and ruining the quality and potential of the best that cookie decorators have to offer.
So.....on to the 2011 experience.
Here are our amazing hosts......Lisa (BearFootBaker) & Alan.
They put up with so much to have us invade their camp. We are grateful to them. :)
The first glimpse of camp.......
It is so beautiful there in the Smoky Mountains!
We even got a glimpse of the bear that is visiting the camp these days for some treats out of the dumpster. Boy....he must of gotten quite the SWEET smorgasbord after camp with all the icing, etc that was thrown out!
As we arrived for camp....the Cookie Queens found a Royal Welcome.
With beautiful name tags to match (thanks Maryann & your awesome friend!)....
There was a "Royal Treasures" prize table. We had some FABULOUS sponsors give us a ridiculously wonderful amount of prizes for our special weekend. Our sponsors included:
Thanks to all of you for making camp so very very special!
Take a look at this wonderful assortment everyone brought for the swap table. We all got LOTS of wonderful treasures to take home.......everyone brought some "I don't want this anymore/ I can't use this after all" goodies. (The gifts on the left were for our White Elephant Gift exchange.)
Here's the wonderful facilities we had the privilege of using.....where we decorated to our hearts content and learned so much from so many great presentations and demos. :)
You can just see how excited Maryann (CookieArtisan -on right) and I (left) are at the beginning of camp when we did the introductions. We had to hold our own hands down just to keep from jumping up and down from excitement. :)
This is when we all introduced ourselves.....what a treat to meet so many of my cookie heroes. :)
Yum.....we got to taste a small sample of every ones' cookies.
They were so delicious....and all amazingly unique in their own right.
(Boy..... did this put me in a miserable sugar coma. I hadn't had sweets like that in six months. What was I thinking?? Taking a small bite from 20 cookies....not real smart....but I couldn't pass up the opportunity!)
The next day we got up bright and early and made our icing.....then colored and bagged it before the big decorating session.
Here I am making my glaze. I was the only glaze user this year.
Here I am decorating my set of five cookies. I see great tension in my face and neck. :)
I wasn't super creative when it came down to these cookies. All my creativity was used up on the cookies I brought to camp. (I'll show you those in a future post.)
We all decorated the same five shapes. It was fascinating to see what each Cookie Queen came up with.
We also had some great presentations......everything from stenciling to airbrush.....and decorative packaging to photography. My brain is so full......I think I'll pop. I tried to write down the "ah hah" moments. Hopefully my decorating will transform in the coming weeks.
We all gathered around the presenter to soak in everything they had to say. Sometimes it looked like the Paparazzi with all the cameras going at one time. hee hee
Here's my awesome dream team.....Myri (Chapix Cookies), Jen (Posh Pastries), Ali (Ali Bee's Bake Shop), Andrea (Sugar Envy)......and not pictured......Callye (SweetSugarBelle) and me (Cookie Crazie). We were deep in the planning stages at this moment.
Here's everyone together with our cookie:
And of course......our design was the BEST! We did a Ba Yo Ca Barn with all the fall trimmings (including those fabulous RI animal transfers from Myri!). What an amazing effort.
The Queens got together and made a flower "bouquet" for Lisa as a thank you note. What we all wouldn't give for a platter of cookies from a host of wonderful decorators! (Mine is the cone flower near the top left with the plaid and stitches......I know you couldn't have figured that out by yourself. ha ha)
Maryann (Cookie Artisan) made a Camp Ba Yo Ca platter to beat all platters. Wow! We were all gathered around it taking in all the details. :)
One evening we got to enjoy a huge bonfire complete with S'mores (that I wouldn't touch after the cookie smorgasbord!). What fun we had. :)
The last night we had the awards night.....everyone received an award AND we got to pick prizes from the prize table AND we got big gift bags brimming full with the sponsors' treasures!
And if that wasn't amazing enough......the life long friendships we made were priceless. This is one BEAUTIFUL group of ladies......on the inside and the outside.
Precious Lisa (BearFootBaker) and I sharing a famous Glorious Treats cupcake!
What a blessing to finally meet my good friend, Callye (SweetSugarBelle) and spend some time with her. :)
Three very special friends...... Bea (Cancun Cookies), Maryann (CookieArtisan), & Myri (Chapix Cookies). What a joy they are to my heart.
My first time meeting Laura (ADozenEggs), Marlyn (Montreal Confections.....Flickr!), and Daniela (SugarRushTreats)........a bunch of talented right here....and super fun to be with. :)
Another precious friend....Susan (AndoverCookieMama).....
and Glory (GloriousTreats).....what a talented and amazing woman....such a pleasure to meet her. :)
Special thanks goes to Daniela (SugarRushTreats), Maryann (CookieArtisan), Denyse (DenyseAL), and Marlyn (MontrealConfections) for giving me permission to use their photos from camp.