My family and I had the privilege to spend a weekend at SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica for the 3rd (and my second) annual AdventureCon, an intimate, invitation-only, family friendly bloggers conference that mixes learning the latest tactics and trends of the trade, forming friendships and alliances with some of the savviest parenting and lifestyle bloggers, and fun time with the family.
Of course, being hosted at SeaWorld, you can already imagine that AdventureCon was a thrilling, exciting experience, and you are right. But to me, SeaWorld is more than a theme park… it is an opportunity to connect with creatures that I would not otherwise learn from or come in contact with.
“And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” ~ Genesis 1:21
My heart rejoices every time I go to SeaWorld and strengthen my connection with the spectacular ocean creatures and the splendid winged creatures God created. I love their majesty, their grace, their deep emotions, their beauty, their uniqueness… their love.
Dan J. Decker, president at SeaWorld San Antonio addressed us personally at the beginning of AdventureCon and he spoke about his team: people who, like me, have a heart for the animals. They’ve become trainers, caregivers, animal ambassadors, and contributors at SeaWorld Cares because that is their passion and what they believe in. During my many interactions with the trainers, the staff behind the scenes, and the AdventureCon organizers (Kami, Julie, and Mason), I learned that these innovative people are in it for more than “the brand.” Their collective purpose is to give the animals a voice: to let others know their stories, their intricacies, their beauty… and most of all, their worth!
I was truly impressed when I learned about the water conservation system at SeaWorld San Antonio. All of the water is reclaimed, and they are so efficient they even won a city award for the low consumption.
As both a blogger and an author, I write for people who do not. As a speaker, I speak for those who are afraid or do not know the value of their voice. Silence is a comfort zone that I’ve learned to avoid:
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” ~ Haile Selassie
Now, don’t be fooled, AdventureCon is a hands-on, content-packed, and highly focused conference. We learned from true experts in their field and, naturally, that will result in becoming better storytellers, becoming better brand ambassadors, and honing our craft as bloggers.I had a-ha moments, breakthroughs, and jot down notes like a mad Dominican woman (the most dangerous of them all lol).
As bloggers, we are powerful influencers. The stories we tell, the people we engage, the brands we support… it all has the potential to make an impact. And that’s what AdventureCon is all about. We connect deeply, masks off, true to ourselves, and support each other on our journey to write from our heart, in our own voice, and about what we believe in. To use our voice to speak for others, to build community, to tell stories that create change.
My favorite moments of the AdventureCon classroom sessions include:
@RandyEscamilla taught us how to think like a reporter by cultivating the art of listening long enough to understand, being mindful of people’s concerns, and then speaking in a language they can understand so you can make an emotional connection. People relate to emotions… that is an universal language that transcends any barrier. And we were all emotional listening to Randy’s stories, both his own and the ones he’s collected along his successful career with News 4, San Antonio, to voice issues that truly matter.
The “How to be a Great Media Source” panel consisted of @SuperJohn of Dad 2.0 Summit, @CarriePacini of Mom 2.0 Summit, and @SocialNewsSara, who is a former wildside blogger turned Digital Content Producer at the Houston station KPRC, local 2. There were some juicy nuggets shared, but I will tell you this: it all comes down to using your voice to build RELATIONSHIPS:
- Be available
- Be prepared
- Be efficient
- Be consistent
- Be compelling
- Be loyal
- Be original
@FranSteps of Step In Communication, had me in MAJOR TEARS, illustrating the power of storytelling to create empathy, change, and action in the community, and the world at large. It was very touching to hear how San Antonio mommy bloggers united to support the Cardboard Kids movement to bring awareness about abused children. These courageous, generous, kind-hearted ladies gave a resounding loud voice to weak tiny voices who need support.
One of those amazing ladies is Stacy Teet of Kids Stuff World, whose masterful presentation was about Pinterest and Flipboard (cleverly named “Flip the Pin”). She literally blew my mind with the reach she has, not to mention all the tips, tricks, and tools she shared, and she deeply inspired me with this epic phrase:
Can’t get into the cool kids club? Start your own club!
WHOA! and BAM!
My translation: “you don’t have to be a cool kid to give a voice to others; in fact, you can and ought to be the voice for the kids like you that won’t dare speak!”
Next up was Jamie Dorobek of C.R.A.F.T. (Creating Really Awesome Free Things) who is a Google+ celebrity, and a fellow breastfeeding mom and branding junkie. Her story of reaching out to a local Google+ representative to learn all she could, reminded me of what a significant difference we can make when we voice our questions to a key influencer and take action, one step at a time. She did just that, and now uses her voice to teach, [something she’s a natural at as a former special needs teacher] so others can benefit from her expertise.
As bloggers, we are giving a voice to the voiceless, highlighting their stories, spreading knowledge that seeks understanding, support, and awareness. We are creating Influence, Impact, and Income that fosters an extraordinary generational effect and legacy.
I’m so grateful for the AdventureCon experience and that I shared it with my family. I am ready for the next one. It is a must for newbies and veteran bloggers alike to learn from the speakers and each other, enjoy fun rides and spectacular performances, become inspired by God’s creations and learn how to be a voice for them!
“Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.” ~ Proverbs 31:8
You can find more fabulous notes by following #AdventureCon14 on Twitter.
What could YOU do to help the Voiceless?
PS ~ My family and I received queue passes, meal tickets, and discounted tickets to SeaWorld and Aquatica as a part of the AdventureCon Experience. I was under no obligation to share my experiences, and, as usual, I am committed to truth, and all opinions are my own – I’m quite opinionated 🙂