Monday, May 5, 2008

Camp Crafts

One of the big bummers for me in the chaos in my life over the past three months is that I had to disappear during prime Girls Camp Planning time. I had so much I wanted to bring up! At any rate, I figured it isn't too late for good craft ideas, and since that is my are a few to get you going.

Soda Can Lantern

Plastic Pet Bookmarks

Recycled Magazine Bowl

Altoid Tin Wallet

Handsewn Softie Scottie Dog

Button Flower Pins

Mosaic Picture Frame

Origami Boxes

Handmade Paper

Hand Dipped Candles

Duct Tape Crafts

Friendship Bracelets

Washer Necklace

Church Humanitarian Aid Projects

and because it wouldn't be camp without it....

Lanyard Instructions

If you need any more info on these crafts or any others, leave a comment and I'll walk you through it. I'd also love to hear of any crafts that you've done that have gone over well.


  1. reese, I'd love to hear someone make the case for crafts - tell me why girls need to do them at all. Boy Scouts don't come back from camp with their duffel full of hot-glued stuff. I just need reminding why this is an essential part of the gender socialization of young women.

  2. ...because I like them too, don't get me wrong, but I sometimes want to step back and just say, WHY? and why CRAFTS and not other kinds of skills?

  3. Interesting. Let's see...

    I'd say the first reason is simply because the average teenage girl enjoys it. Craft time at camp is usually just used as a filler during down time. Boys aren't usually so game, although I think that's due more to socialization than anything else. I also think that's to their great detriment.

    And there's the ease in finding a leader. Girls might rather go river rafting or something, but then you have to find someone capable of taking them. The average camp leader could also lead your average craft.

    But, if you want a case for you go.

    Ahem. *steps on soapbox*

    Throughout history, the dividing line between what is art and what is craft has been that craft is functional, art is aesthetic. This also happens to make historically traditional "women's work" fall squarely in the line of craft. Either because women were busy with the work of the home and so any artistic expression had to serve a purpose, or because they were outright forbidden to participate.

    I think that participating in crafts is a way of honoring our feminine heritage. It is a way of elevating the common work that our female ancestors had to do into the artform they made it.

    I think that crafting is a feminist act.

    On a less philosophical level, there are also valuable skills you learn when you craft. Basic sewing skills, emergency preparedness, making do with less, homemaking skills, basic art skills that can translate into how you dress or how you decorate a home. You learn self-esteem as you discover what you are capable of producing and you discover your voice as you make a visible representation of your thoughts and beliefs. These skills benefit everyone, no matter what their future holds. If you marry and have six kids or if you are a soldier in the military, either way, knowing how to sew will come in mighty handy.

    I think all women are creative by our literal biological natures, and I think crafting teaches us to tap into that.

    Of course, for all of this to be true, you will occasionally have to put down the glue gun and do something challenging, which I am all for. I think you just have to mix the challenging and purposeful with the fun and frivolous to keep anybodys attention.

  4. bravo!

    I'm intrigued by the claim that crafting is a feminist act, and would tend to agree especially when (as I think all your listed crafts do) you sever the connection to those awful big-box craft stores and their cheaply made, uninspired products. I think you're on to something.

    But, I also think crafts being associated only with women limits both crafts and women. Case in point: one of my favorite knitting bloggers is a man, got to be one of the most creative people I can think of. And there's more to women, as you say, but in a lot of Mormon culture they are often reductively, reflexively identified as crafters (or, if they're not "crafty" they feel they have to explain that or apologize for it).

    In the short view, right on - girls love it, many women already know how to do it, etc. It keeps wonderful, practical, beautiful skills alive instead of losing them from the world completely. But... it celebrates and reclaims the tasks women used to do which comprised their entire education, from which they had little respite or option. It just sometimes feels like celebrating the very assumptions which denied women freedom (in the case of slave women), the vote, political voice, and education for so long. I always feel of two minds about crafts, love 'em, hate 'em. I envy your unapologetic enthusiasm.

  5. I think instead of celebrating the chains that bound out ancestors, crafting celebrates what they were able to do despite those chains. It recognizes the vital voice they were expressing in whatever way they could. It's appreciating the song of the caged bird, so to speak. There's no doubt in my mind that they would have benefited from education and opportunity, but I marvel at the opportunities they created for themselves. It makes me sad to think of their efforts no longer being acceptable just because we have more now. (which of course isn't what you are argueing, but comes up all the time in feminist circles)

    I think you brought up a very important point when you mentioned quality. It's hard to argue the value of glue gunning baby's breath to a terra cotta pot other than as a starting point. If you never get any farther, I think you're missing out. i've been crosstitching my entire life, but I always thought of it as a hokey distraction until an internet friend turned me on to life beyond the embroidery aisle at Michaels.

    As to your arguement of men and crafts, I couldn't agree more. I think I wrote that "women are crafters" because I got stuck inside this one specific conversation revolving around YW. Let me revise that to say "People are creative by their literal biological natures."

    When I interact with self-described non-crafty women,I usually get one of two responses. Either they apologize for not being creative as you mention, or they completely disparage what I do. Oh If I had a nickel for every time I've heard, "You must have a lot of time on your hands!" Bleck.

    I firmly believe that every single person is capable of creativity. I think that creativity is a muscle and just requires exercise for growth. Which is where somewhat lame easy crafts come in. They are the physical therapy of the creative world.

    Not to get too grandiose over here, but I also believe there are echoes of divinity in creativity. If you consider our divine potential, then creating something, anything, is using the training wheels for our potential in the next life. If I could write a prescription for every non-crafter, I think I would start with some goofy camp crafts, a little gardening, a little cooking, and then push them along until whatever medium they use becomes a personal expression and they discover the joy in nurturing something along from a seed of an idea into a big beautiful flower of communication with the world.

    Pardon me, I must have had marshmellows and fairy dust for breakfast.


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