Camp ICology 2023 Review: The Value of Connection for Internal Communicators

November 22, 2023

On November 9, two Brilliant Inkies attended the Camp ICology conference in San Francisco. Here's how it went.

Camp ICology is a jam-packed, workshop-based, fun-prioritized day with internal comms campers and expert camp counselors. For me, personally, this was a special experience because I had the opportunity to do my first speaking engagement.

During the session, my colleague, Sara Forner Howland, and I spoke about The Art of Storytelling: How IC Can Use Stories to Elevate Core Values. And it was great – but I’m not here to talk about that.

What I want to talk about is connection!

Make-a-connection GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Over the course of 2023, connection has really taken the spotlight as a key priority in internal comms – especially post-pandemic.

And when I say connection, I’m not just talking about keeping employees connected. I’m talking about how we, as internal communicators, create an engaged workplace at our organizations.

During my time at Camp ICology, I found gaps in how we create those connections – here’s why.


Chuck Gose, Head of Community and Industry Insights at Firstup, facilitated a great session on “Creating a Killer Onboarding Plan” where he posed the question “What could you do to your onboarding journey if you added a little creativity?”. This activity encouraged all groups to think outside the box and brainstorm how to address the new hires concerns.

Harvard Business Review mentions that when you onboard employees properly, you can reduce first-year turnover by 50% and McKinsey found that 46% of workers cite an unmet desire to work with people who trust and care for each other as a reason to quit.

Here are a few interesting ideas that were shared:

  • Boosting confidence with self-care perks during preboarding instead of swag
  • Creating scalable opportunities for clarification with AI bots
  • Fostering connections by asking teammates to share “Brilliant Blunders”  
Read our blog: Your New Hire Retention Begins Before Onboarding

The Magic Of Box Breathing

“People in IC are really good at caring for others and bad about caring for ourselves.”
– Kristen Hancock, VP at ICology

Marie Bodine, Inner Peace Coach, emphasized the importance of giving ourselves space to breathe with the concept of box breathing – a simple and effective relaxation technique that involves a specific pattern of breath control.

Box breathing can help you remember to:

  • Focus on what’s going right, rather than feeling disempowered about what’s wrong
  • Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have
  • Focus on the here and now, not the things you can’t control

According to Gallup's 2019 Global Emotions Report, Americans are some of the most stressed-out people in the world. And it’s this very stress that makes it difficult for us to work under high pressure and in uncertain circumstances.

The next time you’re experiencing anxiety use box breathing to stay focused and calm about the task at hand. It’s time to start taking care of ourselves before we continue taking care of others.

The Missing Ingredient In Your Business Case

Brandon Crawford, Senior Regional Vice President of Sales at Firstup, empowered the group to think about the way we, as internal communicators, position our initiatives to leadership. While advocating for the support, tools and resources we need is important, it’s equally important to focus on more than just ourselves.

internal communicators Camp ICology

Need help gaining leadership buy-in?

Take time to refocus and proactively connect your IC needs and priorities to the needs and priorities of the business.

Consider the big picture and find ways to use the power of storytelling and data to craft your IC business case.

Connecting The Dots

Camp ICology's focus on connection took center stage during the conference – emphasizing its critical role in internal communications, particularly in the post-pandemic landscape.

The event shed light on the gaps in creating meaningful connections by prompting discussions on innovative onboarding approaches, encouraging internal communicators to practice self-care so that we can foster a truly engaged workplace, and the need to align IC needs with organizational needs to gain leadership buy-in.

And for those who attended camp, we hope our camp-inspired friendship bracelets remind us all to breathe and lean on our IC community a little bit more.

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, The Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest!

Maira Sarwar-Sheikh

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