Outsider Summit 2022
It’s not uncommon for companies to say they hope to foster engagement with their customers by hosting an appreciation event. It’s easy to pontificate about the power of customer connection, the benefits of a private owner’s community, and the smiling faces of one big happy family all centered around a shared passion. It’s a whole other experience to curate the event, put your heart out on the line hoping that not only will people show up but that they’ll enjoy themselves, too. Cautiously optimistic, we are so happy to report our very first Outsider Summit was a smashing success. Were there multiple activities and things to do? Yep! What about delicious food and local drink options? Got them! Truthfully, it was the Outsiders, our nickname for our van owners, that made the trek to our little parcel of remote field that made the weekend so special.
Starting on Thursday our team made the 90-minute drive southeast to the unincorporated community of Tygh Valley in Wasco County. Tygh Valley is considered in some circles to be the beginning of Barlow Road, the last overland segment of the Oregon Trail. Before Barlow Road, pioneers traveled by land to the Wascopam Mission (present day The Dalles) to float down the Columbia River to Fort Vancouver. The construction of Barlow Road allowed travelers to cross the Cascade Range and reach the Willamette Valley without negotiating the Columbia River. It was happenstance that our first overlanding trip started with a special connection to American overlanding history. Historical context aside, having our basecamp ready to go before guests arrived Friday was one of the many satisfying checks we could mark on our list of tasks. It was a great opportunity for intimate team bonding in the evening, with the excitement of an event high and the celebrated teamwork shared by all.
Taking our recent experience at Open Roads, there was no question as whether we’d set up our KUMA Outdoor Gear lounge with multiple field games for everyone to enjoy. On Friday we hosted a Camp Chef Pizza Cook-Out all made possible by, you guessed it, our friends at Camp Chef. Our team cranked out over 20 pizzas with options including a classic pepperoni, bacon with shaved apples, blue cheese, and garlic confit, or caprese. It was also our pleasure to share complimentary drinks from Migration Brewing and XOBC Cellars. In the evening as the stars came out and KUMA fire pits warmed, we made sure everyone could end their meal with Honey Mama’s as an extra indulgent element in their s’mores.
Saturday morning guests awoke to the smell of bacon, pancakes, and sausage being cooked up on the Camp Chef grills. What’s brunch without coffee and a Bloody Mary or Virgin Mary? Our make-your-own Bloody Mary bar featured two types of vodka from our local friends at New Deal Distillery, the most delicious Bloody Mary mix from Stirrings Mixers, garnishes courtesy of Mama Lil’s Pickled Vegetables, slices of pepperoni sticks, and more.
With everyone fueled up as the sun started to shine, the group split off into separate activities. The majority had planned to go on a guided rafting experience. They enjoyed a three-hour journey down the Deschutes River. Going over Class Three rapids, there were spills and bodies knocked overboard, but everyone came back to the surface smiling. For those wanting to skip the lifejackets, two of our staff led a group on a 20-mile bike ride on the Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway. They enjoyed a leisurely ride parallel to those floating down the Deschutes River. A spontaneous stop at a local market for ice cream sandwiches was an additional highlight to the ride. Back at basecamp, naps, walks, field games, snacks, and chats were enjoyed by all.
Saturday evening, we treated everyone to catering from The Stockyard, located in Wamic, OR. They brought trays full of delicious whiskey porter tri-tip, grilled rosemary chicken, roasted potatoes, green beans, and a hearty spinach salad. With music playing from the speakers in Paramount, our newest Sprinter 170 demo van, everyone mingled, laughed, played games, and toasted to a wonderful weekend spent visiting with old friends, making new connections, and enjoying time unplugged.
Sunday morning it was time to wrap up and head home. Part of the marketing team captured footage for upcoming Van People spotlights and Fresh Rigs videos. Slowly packing up items, loading our event trailer, and making our goodbyes, the wheels started turning on the next Outsider Summit to come. If you own an Outside Van or are considering purchasing your dream build with us, we hope to see you at one of our events in 2023.