An Idea Camp Success Story with Gulf Coast Theatre Students

If you haven’t been to an IdeaCamp with the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, you are missing out.  These interactive events designed after “Bar Camps” offer a laid back way for community members to share, learn and network in a local restaurant.   A handful of speakers share their experiences and “ideas”, hoping to connect and inspire with their audience.  Connections are made and often cool things happen, as did with Gulf Coast Theatre Department.

A couple months back, Jason Hedden, Associate Professor of Theatre in the Division of Visual and Performing Arts at Gulf Coast State College shared about what his applied theatre class was up to, a concept he called “Rehearsal for Reality.”

The way his students would “rehearse for reality” would be to use theatre techniques such as improvisation in non-traditional settings as a training tool for sales, customer service and effective communication.

They started with other Gulf Coast State College students such as those in the fields of physical therapy and micro-biology.

The theatre students served as simulated patients to help train the students entering the medical field.

After these exercises proved successful, Hedden proposed to his fellow chamber members an opportunity to partner with them in their prospective businesses and several took him up on the offer.

A local retail establishment had the theatre students do some “secret shopping” and helped the shop owner improve the quality of experience for their customers.

In addition, after being ignited with Hedden’s enthusiasm at IdeaCamp, two Real Estate companies also signed up for the opportunity.  Both Keller Williams Success Realty and Beachy Beach Real Estate had welcomed the students in their offices for simulated buyer and seller meetings.

This IdeaCamp success story is proof that cool things happen when people get together to share, learn and network in a no pressure setting.  The next IdeaCamp is scheduled for Nov. 21st from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Panama City Beach.  The event is FREE to Panama City Beach Chamber members and includes light eats, a free drink ticket for up to 50 participants and an opportunity to win door prizes like swag from local businesses or even a FREE ROUND TRIP flight from Southwest Airlines.

To register for the next IdeaCamp, click HERE or visit their FACEBOOK page to stay up to date with Ideacamp happenings.

If your business or organization is interested in the “Rehearsal for Reality” project with Gulf Coast Theatre students, contact Jason Hedden at or 850-769-1551 ext 2889

You can also catch the Gulf Coast Theatre Department live in action starting this upcoming Friday the 15th for their opening weekend of the hit musical Les Miserables.  To buy tickets and to learn more about the theatre department, you can visit the website or stay tuned to their FACEBOOK page.





IdeaCamp is Back at g.Foley’s Next Week

The PCB Chamber of Commerce IdeaCamp is back on at g. Foley’s next week and will explore a topic that effects all of us, Real Estate in our area.

On Thursday, July 25, the Beach Chamber’s IdeaWorks Committee will hold an IdeaCamp “Think Tank” at g.Foley’s restaurant on 23rd Street in Panama City. This fun, interactive “idea-share” takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. This IdeaCamp is presented by Southwest Airlines, hosted by the Bay County Association of Realtors, and sponsored by Edward Jones and Emerald HR Solutions.

“IdeaCamp is about the coming together of the business community in a professional, interactive setting,” says IdeaWorks Chairman David Balmer, regional director of Dale Carnegie of the Emerald Coast. “People are hungry for information and connecting with other business professionals. Our locations are always good! Great venue + great topics + great speakers = IdeaCamp.”

This unique IdeaCamp will examine several home-buying and home-selling scenarios. The topic, “What does Perspective have to do with Real Estate?” will be covered in this interactive panel discussion.

The panel consists of six Real Estate professionals that will share their practical knowledge with IdeaCamp guests as well as answer questions.

Panelists include David Bowers, a builder with Art Construction of NW FL; Matt Kelley, an inspector with North Florida Home Inspections; David Merrick, an appraiser with Brightway Insurance; Jim Kochevar, a lender with Giles Appraisal Group; Darla Fontenot, an insurance representative with Suntrust Mortgage; and Maureen Richardson, a title representative with Setco Services.

Cost to attend IdeaCamp is free for Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce members and $20 for non-members. For more information, call the Beach Chamber at (850) 235-1159.

Next Idea Camp is March 21st!

Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce invites you to Idea Camp #3 on Thursday, March

21, 2013 at G. Foley’s Restaurant at 3212 23rd Street in Panama City, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. This

IdeaCamp is presented by Southwest Airlines and sponsored by North Florida Financial and

Macetech Securities. Cost to attend is free for Beach Chamber members; $20 for non-members. The

Chamber is still signing up speakers. For more information and to RSVP, call the Beach Chamber at

(850) 235-1159.

IdeaCamp is an interactive think tank with focused networking and an ‘ideashare’ of great

business dialogue. On February 26, the diverse crowd at Kingfish Restaurant & Sushi Bar inside Bay

Point Wyndham, mostly members of the local business community, enjoyed the second IdeaCamp

event. “When IdeaCamp was created last fall, our initial goal was simple,” says IdeaWorks

Chairman David Balmer, “We wanted guests to ‘walk away with more ideas for their business than

they had when they arrived.’” The IdeaWorks Committee has already reached that goal, and has

additionally created a unique networking event to inspire business connections and deepen those

relationships. “The diversity of guests and speakers, who talk on a variety of business and leadership-

related topics, is what keeps this event interesting, fun and relevant,” says Balmer.

Topics for March 21 include: “Hovering on the Edge of Technology Commercialization” by

Dr. Stephen Dunnivant from Gulf Coast State College; “If Les Miserables Leaves New York at 8 PM

EST” by Jennifer Jones from Bay Arts Alliance; “The Perfect Website Homepage” by Cebo

Campbell from Novel Avenue Creative; “Top Ten Ways to Improve Collections” by Michael Pak

from Transworld Systems; and “How I Use Email Marketing to Create Hundreds of Customer

Interactions in One Day” by Jason Koertge from PCB Luxury Properties.

Head to Idea Camp this Tuesday Night!



Some people were good at sitting still at school.  

They could look at the teacher patiently and listen until it was their turn to talk.

And then there was those of us who couldn’t wait to jump in or had a hard time fighting the urge to go someplace else in our heads…..

If you can relate….you need to join the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce and attend IDEA CAMP  this upcoming Tuesday night, February 26th at 5:30 pm at the Kingfish Restaurant and Sushi Bar  inside the Wyndham at Bay Point.

If you are someone who needs to be engaged….then you need to come to IDEA CAMP!

This IDEA CAMP is not your typical sit down and listen kind of event, it is anything BUT that.  

It is a fast paced, high energy sharing of ideas with a handful of speakers who are small business leaders just like yourself.

This is an informal event with an opportunity for learning and a little bit of networking in a more casual, intimate setting.

And the best part, because it is being built around the concept of “doing things differently”, it is an event that is a live, organic thing, changing and growing, just like its’ participants.

PCB Daily founder and owner of Panama City Beach Luxury Properties Jason Koertge spoke at the inaugural IDEA CAMP and will be facilitating at this event.

My mother and Beachy Beach Real Estate Broker, Karen Smith will also be speaking this time, on the topic she seems to own…ENTHUSIASM.  I am pretty sure the woman could find a way to get excited about towel lint.

If you want some of that enthusiasm then you need to come to IDEA CAMP!  Also speaking will be Kandi Gardiner, Michael Mace, Zachary Dickerson and more.

Idea Camp  events are made possible because of the support of Southwest Airlines with Tuesday’s event locally sponsored by North Florida Financial and Emerald HR Solutions, Inc and of course, Kingfish Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Bay Point.

The first event they gave away airline tickets, this time, word is they have a gong.  No long-winded speakers allowed here!

Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce Members attend for FREE and guests may attend for only $20. 

Participants enjoy a two hour program with interactive learning, networking, light appetizers and one drink ticket,…oh and a chance at the gong. 

If you can not make this event, mark your calendars for Thursday March 21st and get ready to share, learn, and network at G.Foley’s in Panama City for next month’s IDEA CAMP.

For more information, email Marta Rose:




Need Ideas for your Business? You HAVE to Attend IdeaCamp Next Week

Just a few short months ago, I enthusiastically accepted an invitation to join the Navigator committee with the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce. In our very first meeting I was greeted with excitement about past accomplishments, but also a desire for something new and a fresh direction for the future. The previous two years of the Navigator committee focused on Lunch and Learn workshops, and while considered a success, the committee decided something new was needed to keep us on our toes.

Our first order of business? We changed the name. The Navigator Committee is now IdeaWorks and our new venue for learning is named after what we want to accomplish – to walk away with new ideas from others’ stories of success. And the name of that venue? IdeaCamp.

What is IdeaCamp?

When we were brainstorming, we all seemed to agree of the the principle and format of BarCamps. BarCamps are (from Wiki) “an international network of user-generated conferences. . . They are open, participatory workshop-events, the content of which is provided by participants.”

The object is to get together and have a loose structure of volunteer speakers that share 10 to 15 minutes of success-driven stories and experiences that could provide inspiration for those listening to help them in whatever way is relevant.

The IdeaWorks IdeaCamps will be held monthly, evening time, in Panama City Beach and will feature professionals from all walks of life sharing what they do best and why it works. And the attendees will walk away with ideas to help them grow their business, enhance their career, do more business and/or be more effective employees.

3 reasons you should come.

1 – Social and networking time

It’s in the evening, after work, food and beverages will be served and all you’re friends will be there for you to socialize and network with.

2 – The Big idea you’ve been waiting for

If you’re looking for new ideas for your business, you need to come. Attendees will be hearing from me, Cebo, Karen Smith and several others that have amazing success stories to share. The best way to get new ideas to grow your business is to hear what others are doing and share some experiences of your own. Plus, hearing the thought process of others always sparks ideas of my own. If you think you know everything, I can assure you, you don’t. There is always something to learn, and someone else is always doing something you can learn from!

3 – An opportunity for you to share what you know

Think of this like an open mic night. You don’t have to preregister or signup, if you want to speak, just come ready and sign up when you walk in the door. There will be a sign up board for a 15 minute slot and you can share whatever you want. Although self promotion is discouraged, if you’ve had a success story that you think will help others or some inspirational guidance, bring it!

When, where and does it cost?

The first IdeaCamp will be held at Kingfish Restaurant at the Bay Point Wyndham (map link) on January 31st, 2013 from 5 to 7 pm. Southwest Airlines is the presenting sponsor.

IdeaCamp is free for Chamber members, but there is a small cost for non-members of $20 (to help cover costs), which can be paid at the door.

Patronis and Coley at First Friday

On Friday, July 10 Bay County Chamber of Commerce and the Panama City Beach Chamber got together again for Danishes and coffee and the ever popular First Friday sponsored by Comcast. Dozens of business teams and community leaders attended to network and meet guest speakers state representatives Marti Coley and Jimmy Patronis. Rather than giving a prepared speech, both Coley and Patronis opened the floor to take questions from our local businessmen and women. “We want to hear from you.” Said Reprentative Coley. The questions were few but specific, ranging from oil drilling and stimulus funds to the political musical chairs looming at the state level. Addressing the issue of Governer Crist leaving his seat as well as many others at the state level following suit, Patronis said, “It provides an opportunity to move agendas and legislature forward.” Coley added, “Let’s get educated, partner up and work together to move forward our economy.”

Several awards were given out, includiung the construction award to Waterstone in Springfield and the Small Business award given to Advanced Eye Care. Overall the event, which felt a bit like a pep rally of sorts, was another successful pairing of both Chambers.

If you missed the event, there are lots of other July events to attend. Here is the upcoming July schedule.

July 14 –

EDA Executive committee Meeting – Chamber Boardroom – 7:30 am

July 15 –

“Take Your Elevator Speech to the Next Level Workshop” – Chamber Boardroom –  8:00 am

Business Referral Network Group D Meeting – Sonny’s Real Pit Barbeque – 12:00 pm

July 16 –

Bay Young Professional Breakfast – La Quinta Inn and Suites on Thomas Dr. – 8:00am

Board of Directors Meeting – Chamber Boardroom – 11:00 am

Junior Leadership Bay Steering Committee –  Chamber Boardroom – 4:00 pm

Business After Hours Grand Opening for Panama City Health Club and Spa – 5:00 pm

July 21 –

Business Referral Network Group A Meeting – Loco’s Restaurant – 12:00 pm

July 22-

Existing Industry Committee – Chamber Boardroom – 8:00 am

Speed Marketing – Gulf Coast Community College, Student Union East – 12:30 pm

July 23 –

EDA Board of Directors Meeting – Chamber Boardroom – 8:00 am

July 28 –

Ambassador Meeting – Chamber Boardroom – 4:00pm

July 29 –

Business Referral Group C Meeting – The Place – 12:00 pm

Leadership Bay Steering Committee Meeting – Chamber Boardroom – 4:00 pm

New President at Beaches Chamber

Panama City Beach, FL (November 12, 2008) — As of November 12, 2008 the Greater Panama City Beaches Chamber of Commerce has named a new President/CEO, Beth Oltman.

“The role of  President & CEO of the Beaches Chamber is key related to the coordination of communication and efforts required to ensure this region’s continued success,” states Chairman Al McCambry.  “With close to one thousand members, Beth will have the challenge of both continued growth and relationship building with key leaders throughout not only Bay County, but also NWFL.  She has demonstrated that she has the ability to accomplish what is needed.  We received many resumes from all over the country but in the end, felt our most qualified person was right here.  The Board of Directors and staff are very enthusiastic about Beth’s new role.”

Beth C. Oltman joined the Beaches Chamber as Executive Assistant / Office Manager in January 2007.  She was later promoted to the position of Director of Operations and Human Resources, and has acted as Interim Director since July 2008.  Beth relocated to Bay County in 2006 from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina with her husband Brett Oltman, Account Manager of White Cap Construction Supply, and two young daughters Mary Grace 7, and Sadie 3.  Beth graduated from University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism, and graduated from Marriott’s Corporate training program in Convention Sales Management.  Her career in the Resort Hospitality industry has covered Convention Services, Catering Sales, Bed and Breakfast Management and working in the Golf Industry.

“I feel we have a very energetic, innovative chamber of commerce, and such a strong, creative team that believes in this community.  It is the people and the membership that are the treasures of this chamber,” she says.  “I look forward to strengthening these relationships, and working closely with our neighboring chambers of commerce, TDC/CVB and community organizations.”

Beth can be reached via email at  For more information please contact the Beaches Chamber at (850) 235-1159.

Beaches Chamber’s Community Board Room

Panama City Beach, Florida (May, 2008) – The Greater Panama City Beaches Chamber of Commerce recently launched its new Tourist Information Center at the Beckrich Centre in Panama City Beach, where the Chamber offices have been relocated. Another new amenity is the Chamber’s new Community Board Room, available to all Bay county non-profit organizations for their meetings and gatherings.

“Our number one goal, as a non-profit membership organization, is to help our business members and other non-profits grow,” says Debi Knight, President and CEO of the Chamber. “Part of the plan has always been to provide a venue for these organizations to conduct their business.”

Continue reading “Beaches Chamber’s Community Board Room”

Panama City Beach's Chamber to Open New Location


Marta Rose, Senior Vice President Marketing & PR

Panama City Beach, FL (March 2008) – The Greater Panama City Beaches Chamber of Commerce’s top priority for 2008 has been to relocate its offices to a larger facility which would double as a tourist and relocation information center. That goal will be met on April 7, 2008, when the Chamber’s new Tourist Information Center will open at the Beckrich Centre, Panama City Beach’s newest, Class-A business center located in the heart of the Beckrich corridor. The spacious, state-of-the-art lobby is informative and historical, educational, entertaining and fun, and is the perfect resource for visitors coming to the area looking for accommodations, things to do, demographics, economic stats and community information. Directional DOT (Department of Transportation) signs are being placed all over Panama City Beach guiding visitors to the new location.

Continue reading “Panama City Beach's Chamber to Open New Location”