Keeping Camp Alive

Especially fun for a younger crowd, a colorful banner bearing a handprint of every camper and staff member, signed with a permanent marker when dry, is a low-cost alternative to bigger archival projects. Have the banner available as one of the first activities of the camping session or week to give the piece time to dry. Later, invite participants to find their handprint, sign their name and write one word that best describes their camp experience. Done on fabric, this can last several years with proper care. Paper versions may not last as long, but are still a community-building activity.

6.     Reflective Daily Diary

Materials: notebook/journal (one for each cabin or group), pens

Mainly for middle grade-age campers and up, a daily camp diary is a place for storing thoughts, memories and friendships created by a single group of campers. Campers in a cabin can rotate writing (or drawing, creating poetry, etc.) in the journal, and participation is not required. Instruct campers and staff that poignant diary entries may be shared in public venues (campfires and other ceremonies and/or camp promotion) and may remain anonymous if they choose. This type of archive will appeal to a certain type of camper, so keep in mind that it might not have the same level of interest generated by the larger, more artistic and expressionistic projects.

7.     Video Film Festival

Materials: video cameras (one for each cabin or group)

In the same vein as the reflective daily diary, but with the benefit of multimedia, using inexpensive video cameras to capture the flavor of a camping session puts campers in charge of their experience. Invite each cabin to produce a video of a pre-specified length to be shown in the spirit of an independent film festival. Before showing videos, counseling staff need to verify the appropriateness of the content (as should also be the case with the reflective daily diary). Outstanding videos can be uploaded to camp social media outlets and/or burned to DVD for long-term storage. Prizes can be given, if desired.

8.     Time Capsule

Materials: paper, pens, a safe storage container and facility for maintaining time capsule

Traditional time capsules are buried in the hopes of being discovered and opened at a future date, but this does not preclude the notion of creating a time capsule that will be stored above-ground. Invite each participant to write, draw or design a message to a future camper from this “camp of the past”. Have them include anything (either in terms of communication or material items) they think future campers would like to know about today’s camp, as well as their favorite memories of camp. For larger camp groups, plastic bins with tight lids (which can also be duct-taped for an added effect of security) work well as storage containers. Be certain the time capsule is stored where it can be accessed for future opening and that more than one person is aware of its existence!

Beth Morrow is an educator, author, and senior week co-program director for Camp Hamwi, a residential camp for teenagers with diabetes. She loves camp archive projects of all types. Contact her at


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Related posts:

  1. Let’s Talk Camp Safety
  2. Camp And The Diversity Of Experience
  3. Plugging In To Camp
  4. Pre-Camp Counselor Training
  5. Camp And Commitment

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