2Written by Chelsea Hickey

It’s not a conference, and it’s not really summer camp, it’s a way of life. The most commonly used adjective when talking about Summer Brand Camp has been inspirational, though when asked on video, it was awesome.

Campers left Dallas inspired to do good. They are motivated to be the change, to make their company, culture and the world a better place. What conference have you ever been to that leaves you feeling like a better person and pumped up to go out and change the world?

Be The Change Revolutions is primarily responsible for this. From their motivational talks to just being awesome people, the cherry on top was the love notes they were leaving around all week. Can you imagine 2 walking to your hotel room and seeing this on the door? Amazing.

Have you ever cried at a conference? If you did think of a conference in your head, you were probably crying because it was boring. During the 3-4 days at camp, I promise you everyone cried at least twice, and if they didn’t, they were really good at holding it in.

From Brandon kicking off the week singing our National Anthem (which by the way, no other conference ever starts out like that) to the closing keynote on Thursday where Amanda highlighted things campers had written about each other – it was so inspirational and moving. Be the change.
So you’ve made it this far and I have yet to talk about the restaurant industry – that’s how secondary it is. Of course it’s what brought us all together, but the awesomeness, inspiration and desire to do something bigger and better is what set the standard for this conference. Change starts from within, not in the kitchen or HR department.

In the foodservice industry, we need to rally together to highlight our successes, talk about our failures and learn from each other and it isn’t the norm in the entire industry, yet.

At my previous company, it was an unwritten rule to not associate with other brands or people at those brands. They thought they had it all figured out and that everyone else was the enemy. Wrong. Once I started meeting others in the industry I was able to talk to them about trends, predictions and lifestyle. You have to have a support system, we all have to rally together.

We have to be the change.

Keynotes and breakout sessions ranged from philanthropy, brand advocacy, big data, turning corporate culture into a competitive advantage, labor relations and HR strategy.

49 speakers and hundreds of attendees, all in one room. One Tribe. One Place. I’m an emotional mess as I write this on the flight home. I am sad to leave old friends and new friends, I’m so grateful for the information I’m walking away with, and I wish I would have had more time to connect with people I know are rock stars in the industry. I’m going home and I’m making a change. I’m going to pay it forward, support my peers and help end childhood hunger in the United States.

Capture“If all we do is sell food and beverages, we might as well be a grocery store” – Aric

Today, the challenges we face are tougher than ever: staying competitive in the marketplace and a best in class employer in the workplace. We spent the week with savvy operators and solution providers who were all there because we share values and dreams that focus on creating Workplace, Marketplace, One Place!

We had a lot of fun mixed in between fantastic keynotes and sessions. From the talent show to the flush mob in the women’s bathroom – it’s all about building community.

As I mentioned above, at my last company, we were kept in our shells, but I broke out of our business’ shell when I attended Foodservice Social Media Universe last year – it’s not a conference for everyone, but if you’re interested in social media for your brand, you need to be at FSMU. I met some of the most amazing people in my life at FSMU who told me about Summer Brand Camp, and for the past 9 months, all I’ve wanted to do is be a part of the tribe they always talk about. I’m a part of that tribe and met even more amazing people at camp, something I didn’t think was possible.

If you were at camp this year, I hope I met you, and even if I didn’t, I know I would love you. If I did meet you, thank you. You’ve all inspired me to go out and do even more with my life and brand. I’ve never felt so rewarded and motivated before.

If you weren’t at camp and it’s the only conference you attend next year, it’s worth it. I promise you, you do not want to miss being a part of the tribe.

Please take some time to check out some of these fantastic organizations that were highlighted at camp:

Share our Strength – No Kid Hungry
Pangeo Coffee
Changers of Commerce