Those of us working in developing countries know very well the challenges involved with doing crafts and arts at our camps, let alone the expense. Yet at the same time we see how valuable it is that children express themselves through art and that we embed/re-enforce the lesson at hand. When thinking back to my own school days, I remember the craft application lessons as opposed to theoretical heaps of information. If we want to create memorable lessons that have an affect on our campers, then arts and crafts have to have their place in our camp programs.
Rising above the challenges of lack of finances and not being able to pop down to a local “hobby craft” store or finding international online craft suppliers, I have looked to what is around me and free for the taking: TRASH! Yes, recycling!
What are our camp kitchens turning out most days—cartons, tins, lids, jars, bottles? What are the children consuming at their camp tuck (snack) shop—wrappers, cans, lolly sticks? What are our offices throwing away—paper, old cds/dvds, empty pens? What is around us in nature at our camps—sand, shells, stones, pines, leaves? All can be used in our camp arts and crafts with a bit of imagination and thought and can cut our craft activity bill by the ‘bin loads’(sorry about the pun!). In the past I’ve also asked campers to bring a certain old item, like a pair of jeans, or asked churches to collect certain objects.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
Here are some universal principles as to why to include arts and crafts in your camp program and why using recycling material is the way forward:
1. Our God is a Creative God. There is something about being creative though arts and crafts that heightens our learning. Jesus Himself oozed creativity. He didn’t recite great truths of the Talmud; rather, He spoke with the homespun style of a storyteller and connected to the towns, places and earthly things around him with heavenly realities.
According to Miller, P. (2001) Learning styles: The Multimedia of the Mind, statistics show that with Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic sensory learning styles, 29 percent of all students in elementary and secondary schools are visual learners, 34 percent learn through auditory means, and 37 percent learn best through kinesthetic/tactile modes. Other studies say as much as 50% of students learn best by “doing,” thus highlighting the fact that we need arts and crafts as apart of our camp learning programs.
(Another helpful book: Michael Card’s book, Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity, shows powerfully, that creativity rightly conceived is a response to God; it is worship.)
2. Crafts from recycling, goes without saying, is good for our God-given environment.
3. Crafts from recycling teaches children the valuable lesson in being resourceful in our “throw- away world.”
4. Crafts from recycling helps us be good stewards of what God has given us.
It’s time to get creative! Let’s program more arts and crafts into our camps, aided by recycled materials and enjoy seeing the results our campers being further impacted by our great, creative God.
Helpful links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBEF0ZwAurQ
Rachel Wilson is a missionary and the executive director of Spark Ministries (Shkëndijë), founded in Albania in 2000. Her vision is to reach Albanian children and help others do the same. Adventure Camps during summer months is one of her main focuses.