A Basket Full of Ideas

Ernest Thompson Seton’s legendary book The Birch-Bark Roll was first published in 1902 as the handbook of the Woodcraft League of America. Seton says of its creation, “It would help bring together young people from various so-called stations, break down the barriers that society has foolishly placed upon them, and establish in their minds when they are young a finer kind of humanity, a real understanding that the important thing is the association of a human spirit … To exemplify my outdoor movement, I must have a man who was of this country and climate; who was physically beautiful, clean, unsordid, high-minded, heroic, picturesque, and a master of Woodcraft, besides which, he must be already well-known … For this reason, I took the Native American, and called my organization ‘Woodcraft Indians.’”

You can see every chapter of the book, including dozens of wonderful activities and ceremonies, on-line at http://www.inquiry.net/. Today Woodcraft Ways is still a cornerstone of camps in countries as far-flung as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Chile.

As an aside, Seton was close friends with Dr. Luther Gulick (the creator of the YMCA’s “Spirit-Mind-Body” triangle of developmental balance, co-founder of the Boy Scouts in America and, with his wife, Charlotte Gulick, founder of the Campfire Girls.)

Giving Checkers Its Due

“I heeded your advice and immediately ordered several sets of the giant checkers (from Cracker Barrel Country Store; $12 a set) after your last camping update. I then created ’Café De Mystic’ right outside my office door. I have been absolutely amazed at the traffic. Parents sit at the café and play checkers and tic-tac-toe during check-in. Counselors and their kids play in between activities, and kids play kids at all times. The greatest part is that my office window is right beside the table, so I meet everyone that sits there! The round table at the café has really lent to helping kids and staff build friendships while having fun. We’ve added another table for Uno. I even received an e-mail from a mother today wondering where we purchased the checkers because her son wrote about it in a letter.”

–Ricky Wright, Mystic Lake Camp (Mich.)

Flash! Is This A Good Idea Or What?!

When visiting CampMiller (Duluth YMCA), I asked the staff how to ensure campers’ parents know about the great activities at camp. One counselor said, “Whenever our cabin goes to a cool activity, like the climbing tower or the horses, I ask every kid to bring a camera. They all come with disposable cameras, but usually waste the pictures goofing around in the cabin. So I use their cameras to take fun pictures of them climbing and riding, knowing it’s the best view of camp their mother will get when it comes back from one-hour photo!” Wish I’d thought of that!

Fish Tales

Patrick Edmunds, the director of RichmondVirginia’s CampThunderbird day camp, wants to make sure that every camper who catches a fish gets a picture with it to take home. So right at the fishing dock, the camp has a Polaroid camera and film in Tupperware containers. The counselors take the photos, mark the campers’ names on them, and post the photos on the bulletin board. On family night, the campers take their parents to see the “Fish Tales” and pick up their photos. Great stories, relived again and again!

Paper Hat Fun

It’s amazing how many kids today have never learned to fold a paper hat out of newspaper. Here’s an extra cool one–The Samurai (or could just as easily be called The Transformer). Find the instructions at www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/origami/Samuraihat/.

Staff Training Fashion Show

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