3 Creative Camps for Small-Business Owners

To spark creativity, you might need to sign up for camp. Yeah, camp! Creative camp is a grown-ups gathering modeled after kids’ summer camp, where hands-on arts and innovative thinking are of the utmost importance. Perhaps you’re thinking of launching a new brand or reaching out to an untapped demographic. You need inspiration, not another PowerPoint presentation, to get your entrepreneurial juices flowing! So, consider attending one of these three “camps” for small-business owners, which combine round-table discussions and expert-led classes with quiet time for reflection.

Camp Makearoo

When: May 18-20, 2012
Where: Fontana, Wis.

Toni McLellan, a freelance writer and photographer, founded Makearoo.com in December 2011 as an online place for creative-minded people to congregate. Camp Makearoo is its offline equivalent. Whether you aim to finally finish that novel, figure out how to target a new demographic, or tweak your website’s copy until it’s pitch-perfect, McLellan hopes to jump-start your efforts. The camp combines sessions with names like “Kickstart Your Heart with Your Art” and “Procrastination Busters” with alone time to work out the kinks in your mantra. The three-day gathering will be held at The Abbey Resort on the shores of Lake Geneva, about an hour from Milwaukee and two hours from Chicago.
Cost: $600 (excluding food and lodging)

School House Craft Conference

When: Sept. 21-23, 2012
Where: Seattle

School House Craft is geared toward independent small-business owners (and anyone with an entrepreneurial mind-set), particularly crafters and retailers of handmade wares. If you’re an artisan who’d like to evolve beyond selling your goods on Etsy.com or at craft fairs, this is the conference for you. Retailers will receive an education, too, in how to best market these types of products. You’ll also learn how to maximize social media, why you should build your brand, and which legal/tax issues you need to pay attention to. The School House Craft Conference evolved out of the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs, which debuted in 2008 and is on hiatus in 2012. Sessions are held at Phinney Neighborhood Center.
Cost: $30 per class or $180 for all three days (early-bird rate, excludes food and lodging)

Squam Art Workshops

When: Sept. 12-16, 2012
Where: Holderness, N.H.

The first Squam retreat was held in 2008, and it’s been popular ever since. This year’s spring retreat (to be held in June) is sold out, but there’s still room — and time to sign up for — the autumn session. Workshop topics include “Awakening the Muse,” “Intuition and Creativity,” cupcake baking, vinyasa yoga, jewelry-making, and “Seeing the Everyday,” with plenty of space to tailor each course to your artistic mission. Whether it’s coaching in a craft or thinking conceptually, all of Squam’s workshops are designed to open you up to new possibilities, perhaps some you have yet to ponder or have previously been afraid to explore. Perhaps you’ll finally figure out how to solve your biggest customer-service nightmares while tooling around with fibers, metals, or photography? The retreat takes place on the shores of Squam Lake, at Rockywold-Deephaven, an upscale campground that’s been around since 1897. It’s 2.5 hours from Boston and an hour north of Concord, N.H. Its cottages are available for overnight lodging during the retreat. 
Cost: $1,200 (includes food and lodging) or $675 (excludes lodging and includes only some meals)

About Kristine Hansen

A Wisconsin-based freelance writer, Kristine Hansen contributes business stories to many food and drink trade journals, as well as CNN.com, and blogs about mindful travel at Psychology Today. She also dishes out advice for writers at The Writer Magazine about running a successful writing business.
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