Aug 9, 2017

got beads?

I just returned from a wonderful week at Girl's Camp!  This was my 22nd year at camp.  In the past I have served 6 years as a unit leader (in charge of about 8 girls), 6 years as the co-stake girl's leader (in charge of about 25 girls who basically run the camp), 4 years as a trek mom, 5 years as a crafty lady, and this year as the bead specialist...or in reality, the crazy bead lady!  

Each year the girls work hard to pass off their certification.  We like to award them a colored bead for each item.  When they complete all of their certification, they get a larger colored bead.  If they go the extra mile and complete even the optional items, they get a "flower" bead (a colored bead with small flowers painted on it.)  Some of the certification requires them to learn new ways to cook outdoors, lash useful items together, tie knots, orienteering, first aid, hikes, learning about useful and also poisonous plants, finding their way by the sun and the stars, helping others, and daily scripture reading and journal writing, to name a few.  The girls work hard and really earn their beads!

Along with the certification beads, we also give out an early bird bead when they arrive at camp on time, a camp attendance bead, and various other beads for special activities.  The adults that serve at camp also love to get beads.  They usually get a bead that goes along with what their assignment is at camp.  I tried to photograph most of the beads that I made this year, although I didn't photograph the small colored beads.  But, just know that I spray painted over 1200 wooden beads in preparation for camp, and painted flowers on about 150 of them!  I love this new position, even though it was a lot of beads to make!

Warning...this is a long, photo heavy post!

Before I left for camp, I just had to make a few t-shirts.  Originally, I was going to use iron-on vinyl, but didn't get it ordered in time, so I settled for freezer paper stencils and fabric paint.  I chose to put the designs on the back of my t-shirts so that they wouldn't get covered by my own beads.

The little flowers on the letters mimic the flowers on the certification beads.

I found this cute saying on the internet and thought it would be perfect for camp.

The first bead the girls get is an early bird bead.  This year at camp the theme was "He Lives in You," from the Lion King.  It was only fitting that Zazu would adorn our bead this year!

They also get a camp attendance bead.  I found a whole sackful of wooden orange beads at a thrift store (probably from some 70's beaded back massager or something!)  They were a perfect backdrop for an African savanna scene of a tree, grass, and birds.  I used an ultra fine sharpie marker to draw the design.  I sprayed some water-based clear coat on them for protection.  (Water-based clear coat doesn't make the sharpie ink run...usually!)

The girls can also learn archery during the week.  On the second to the last day of camp, they keep track of points and award a trophy and bead to the winners.

Jamboree, or the Confidence Course, is also a big deal.  It is basically an obstacle course where the girls work together and encourage each other to complete each event.  The unit that completes the course the fastest, and with great team spirit wins the Jamboree bead.  (More beads from that 70's thing, only these were bigger.)

Two of the older girls were certified lifeguards and kept the girls safe on the water.
They got their own special beads.

Last year our girls went on a pioneer trek.  I wanted to recognize the young woman who was the Trek Youth Chair, so I made her a special bead, too.


Sadly, we had an incident with some angry bees and several of the girls got stung, one of them 18 times!!  I felt they deserved a special bead, so I made these one afternoon while at camp.

Now, onto the the leader's beads.  

Our Camp Director received a bead with a compass.  I also wrote "Leading the Way" 
around the outside edge.

Our ladies in charge of certification received a miniature camp manual.  I reduced the image of the manual and printed it in color at a print shop.  I cut little pieces of wood from a paint stir stick and mod podged the image in place.  When dry, I drilled little holes along the edge and threaded some leather lacing to mimic the spiral binding.  I actually added a jump ring to these before I gave them so they would hang better from their necklace.

The hardworking cooks got little miniature cans of food.  These were also printed at the printshop and mod podged onto a small wooden spool.  The head cook has an Etsy shop named Lima Bean, so I figured a can of Lima Beans was in order!

Since we had an African theme for camp, I chose to mod podge a mandala onto a wood round for the crafty ladies.

One leader was in charge of activities and the jamboree.

The nurse's bead was an know, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!  She was pretty busy with the bee incident, even receiving a sting herself!

Someone needs to photograph all the events, so they received a bead also.

The unit leaders attend training meetings before camp.  I thought little flashlights would represent their preparation to light the way for the girls.  These were made with golf tees, some jewelry findings called "cord ends," and a pony bead placed between two layers of parchment paper and melted slightly with a hot iron.  I use E-6000 for all of the gluing.

For their unit leader bead, I decorated some long, synthetic bone beads with a brown sharpie marker.  Once again, I used water-based clear coat.

The Stake Young Women's President received her own bead.


The men who were there to help and keep us safe love their beads also!  I made them little lanterns.  These were made with miniature wooden bowls turned upside down, glued to....can you guess?  That's right, syringe caps!  After struggling to find clear tubing, or clear beads that would work, it occurred to me that a syringe cap would be perfect.  And, with two diabetic children, we have plenty!  I bent some wire, drilled some little holes, and glued the handles in place.  I added a small eye hook to the top.

The adult unit were the Lions from Pride Rock.  I ordered a mold off the internet and used plain Sculpey clay to make these lion heads.  I painted them, clear coated them, and glued a jewelry bail to the back.

Something new this year that I wanted to start was recognizing years served.  There are so many leaders who willingly give up vacation time to come back year after year to lead these young women.  I asked a friend who is a graphic designer to come up with a design, and another good friend who owns a laser cutting machine to cut them from wood.  (It really helps to have talented and willing friends!)  I love how they turned out!  We had several leaders receive them this year, including three who received their 25 year medallion!

And here we are, lion manes, beads and all!

Phew, if you made it this far you are quite the trooper!  Thanks for reading!

I like to link to these great parties!

 photo signature.png


  1. What an amazing way to keep track of all the fun things that you do at camp. The Lantern beads were my favorite, but all of them were incredible. I still wish we were in the same ward/stake!!!!

    1. Thanks Deb! The bead program started years ago even before I was a young girl at camp. It has evolved some with all the beads for the leaders and such. While at camp, I love to look at my beads from past years and remember all the good times I have experienced at girls camp. It's a wonderful place to be! BTW, the lanterns were my favorite also!

  2. I thought I had the crazy craft camp person title down. You are up on me. Amazing detail and tons of work!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I think anyone in charge of crafts at camp has to be at least a little bit crazy...if not before camp, at least afterwards! I'm sure you do great!


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the feedback and always look forward to reading what you have to say! Susan