Connection and collaboration are two things I have learned are so important when it comes to authentically building a brand. (That, and working your butt off!) Achieving these things are most rewarding when you meet an amazing person, or group, and with whom you feel like you have found a kinship. I recently experienced meeting such a collection of folk, in which was mirrored my desire to grow, create, and venture into ourselves.

Scrolling through Instagram one day, I came across a picture of a man, standing in a valley next to a white Westfalia van, low evergreen forests ringing snow capped mountains in the background. One click of the image and I was down the rabbit hole!

What I found was Socality, a self-described local and global community of artists and makers. By happy chance (or maybe fate), scheduled just days away was their sold-out Socality Camp taking place in Alberta, in the breathtaking Canadian Rockies. It would bring together 150 like-minded artists, speakers, and workshop leaders. I took a chance and reached out for a last minute ticket, and it paid off. I booked my flights; I was in.  

When I hopped off the plane in the Calgary airport, I rounded a corner to find a group of backpack clad individuals looking ready for an adventure. Joining the queue, I could feel the camaraderie that existed among those who had clearly attended Socality events before. On the bus, new connections blossomed immediately among what I would soon learn was a warm, open community of individuals.

What I loved about arriving at camp, was despite being surrounded by countless influencers, talents, and creatives, I was arriving without preconceived notions of anyone. Like many of my new found friends, I was a Socality first-timer. Having spontaneously decided to jump into this experience, I didn’t give myself time to do much background research. In this click-first-ask-questions later world where we are always on social media, where we can Google anyone we want, it was a refreshing way to meet people. I discovered our age group spanned several decades. Most I spoke with were photographers and videographers, many of whom were there to learn how to grow their passions into full-time gigs, some who were already living the dream. Every hour that passed I learned something new about this group and how they came together, who they were, and what kept them coming back to this community of spirited individuals.

Regardless of the welcoming atmosphere, I still felt a little like a kid showing up for the first day of summer camp.. Even as an adult, things like “Am I going to make friends?” were running through my mind. In any context, at any age, being thrust into a new group can push you out of your comfort zone. It gives you that nervous-excited fluttery feeling, that thrill of the unknown.

You answer the typical getting to know you questions a lot. Where are you from? What do you do? What brought you here? At first, I felt a little like a big fish swimming from my small pond into the ocean. That feeling faded as I received new and genuine interest in what I was creating for my life. My self-made entrepreneur story generated a lot of questions that I was proud to answer. I am an owner/operator/designer creating my own life. I play it down at times, but deep down I know it’s pretty awesome!

Portrait of me by @mollhickey 

I could have easily stuck with the people I met the first day of camp, they were great. Instead, I consciously challenged myself not to fall into comfort at any time. Plus, I wanted to meet everyone! I wanted to hear their stories. Every chance I got, I would sit in a new place on the bus, in the dining hall, in the workshops, and find new hiking buddies.

I loved learning about the huge variety of lifestyles our group brought to the table. I was inspired by the many attendees who showed up with their Westie vans and other mobile living set-ups. Having recently sold my first house and downsized to a 10x10 tiny home (that used to be a goat shed!), these small-living stories reinforced the sanity behind my newly adopted situation. Not long ago I purchased my own vintage Airstream (@meetwilder) that I plan to reno myself so I too can take my home with me wherever the wind blows! Maybe to next year’s Socality camp!

As a photographer, I enjoyed re-connecting with my camera and reminding myself that keeping my finger on the trigger brings me joy. As a business owner, I really related with the sessions that were stories about what it takes to build something for yourself. Like Kohl Crecelius, of Krochet Kids Intl. He was so open about his experience, answering the tough questions like “What is the worst thing you have ever gone through in business?” Not an easy topic for the ego.

If all the camp content wasn’t enough already, the backdrop to our time together was spectacular. We paid homage to the land that hosted us by climbing as many new peaks as we could. Highlights for me were exploring Larch Valley and gasping my way up Serail Ridge, the highest peak I have ever summitted on foot. There was an unspoken understanding among us, about getting up early to get the good picture, to see that sunrise over the mountains just to experience it. Sometimes, I left my camera out of it. Being in nature is the kind of break I crave to give my mind a little peace.

Closing out our evenings next to the campfire with musical stylings like those of Jared from Fireside Music gave our days a chill vibe that wouldn’t be present were we all sitting around in a conference room. Waking up every day in a cabin or a tent, no one was trying to achieve a polished persona. Getting active, learning, and sharing, created a strong sense of vulnerability among our group. Whether we were letting our hair down, or letting our guard down, we were also letting ourselves just be, which is not something people consciously do every day.

Since I’ve come down from the clouds, it has been fun and exciting to see everyone’s experience through the visual content created. It inspires me to get out with my camera and see a little more through the lense. I love that even outside of camp, people are still connecting. I forged friendships with people from places I look forward to visiting, and I am excited to host them in my home town. PLEASE EVERYONE COME VISIT!!!!

Most of all, what keeps coming up for me is how much joy, energy, and good vibrations I get from being able to encourage people to follow their dreams. I find that being vulnerable with your own journey is the best way to communicate that. Who knows, maybe someday I will be up on a stage sharing my story. For now, I’m still writing it.

 

I discovered Scott Bakken of Socality on a Follow Friday share, so here is my list of peeps I met at camp who I think you should check out who are still inspiring me back at home. The below photos were all lifted from their personal Instagram’s. Click the image to see their full feeds!

 

          

Thanks for reading, and Socality campers, thanks for a great adventure together! 

Photos of me thanks to @mollhickey

October 26, 2017 by Jessica Wilson

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