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Camp Craft Ideas

Q: I just landed a job as Arts & Crafts Director at a VERY low budget Girl Scout camp for the summer. I have a few ideas for fun crafts, but I'm still trying to come up with innovative ideas. I'm especially looking for crafts that can be related to nature (such as easy-to-make birdfeeders, etc) or made of recycled materials. The less materials I have to buy, the better. We also have a lot of candle wax laying around (in huge blocks) so if anyone has any fun candle ideas other than the same old dip method, that would be appreciated.

A: Some of the best projects I have done at camps cost about $1.00 per camper per project. We make things like the now-famous beaded gecko (made with pony beads and crafting cord) and we do nature drawing (which of course requires drawing paper and pencils or charcoal, and stiff cardboards for "drawing boards"). We do try and find donated materials. Try a local newspaper, where they may be happy to give you huge end-rolls of newsprint. One of the best projects is to trace each kid onto her own piece of newsprint and then she can paint herself life-sized adding features, clothes, jewelry, etc. Of course, you do need poster paint and basic brushes for this. And if you are not afraid of a mess, papier mache is great. We made maracas last year a toilet paper roll cut in half, covered with papier mache - add a handful of scrap beads or small stones before sealing up the second end and attach a craft stick for a handle, then paint the next day. Remember sand candles! Lots of fun, very easy, no dipping! Also make poured candles in empty milk cartons, toilet paper rolls, etc...suspend the wick and pour in different colors of wax in layers. The S&S Crafts catalog has many bulk supplies, with exactly your situation in mind. It is definitely worth investing in some craft idea books (or go to the library for ideas) Also, as the years go by, most camps acquire a basic collection of supplies. We have more feathers than I can imagine using before they disintegrate! We try to give them projects they can really enjoy, so decent beaded jewelry (hemp necklaces with a few beads) is a big hit. Also, in spite of its frightening per-piece cost, Fimo beads are a great camp project, because lots and lots of beads may be made from a very few blocks of Fimo. (you will have to do the baking for the kids; it happens our camp kitchen has big ovens that I can sneak into late at night after all the bread has been baked!)