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Written by Chris Reed

In your lifetime, how many times have you seen yourself in a photograph? The number certainly has to be in the hundreds, right? Perhaps it tops 1,000 if you include a few dozen selfies in your count. As for the photographs in which I’ve played a part, I’m sure I could look at most of them and say to myself, “Should’ve smiled in that picture.”

That isn’t the case with pictures of me at Summer Brand Camp.

I’m smiling in every single one of those. It’s a big smile, too. Genuine. Totally caught in the moment, unlikely to recall posing for the photograph, but able to remember the feeling of those three June days in Dallas. Smiles like those tend to linger long after the fact.

Screen-shot-2014-02-03-at-8.45.03-PMThe first Summer Brand Camp was the last one I’ve been able to attend. During my absence, I played along at work by following the #SBrandCamp stream on Twitter, but reading retweeted quotes from keynotes or seeing photos from networking events just isn’t the same as being there to hear and see them for yourself. I was smiling, but only on the inside.

Not anymore. The anticipation is building, and I find myself in full-on smirk mode.

I’m going back to Summer Brand Camp.

I’m looking ahead to the people—the ones I haven’t seen in years, the ones I’ve connected with only online or over the phone, the ones I’ve yet to meet at all. And, I’m looking ahead to the sessions—the ones that truly connect this powerful tribe, the ones that tear down imaginary silos, the ones that make us better regardless of our place on the career continuum.

Screen-shot-2014-02-03-at-8.47.33-PMSummer Brand Camp isn’t just relevant to business. It’s relevant to life. It isn’t just a conference. It’s an experience.

That’s why I’m already wearing my smile. I hope you’re getting dressed in yours.