Fun Things to Do

The third week of our Summer Adventure Camp (25-29 July; we still have openings) is going to focus on Outdoor Skills.

This was my idea, because too often the modern summer day camp is really more like an extension of school.  What fun is that?  Remember those summer days when you used to wade in streams, catch frogs, play in the woods?  You invented games with your friends, built shelters, came home with dirt on your face and a few extra bug bites.  It was GREAT!

Kids don’t often get these experiences any more, so I thought we’d use our third week of camp to give today’s kids some of these experiences.

One of my areas of interest is primitive skills.  You know, making fire by friction, making containers from bark and wood, weaving grasses and leaves to make baskets and mats…all those fun, useful, hands-on things.  So, I went through some of my books looking for some nifty things the kids could make.

Ah-ha!  Cat-tails.  Cat-tails are like the Wal-mart of the plant world.  They are food, they are shelter.  You can make all sorts of things from them.  And, they are all over the place here.  I had an idea.

In one of my books was a set of directions for making a visor out of cat-tail leaves.  GREAT!  What a terrific craft idea – and the kids will love wearing these hats that they made!

Now, did I take photos of the process as I made my sample visor?  No.  Why?  I have no idea – I usually have my camera right at my side.  All I can say in my defense is that I was just so focused on making the hat that it must’ve pushed all other thoughts aside.  So, here’s the finished product:


How cool is that?  The campers were all very interested as they walked past me, sitting there in the courtyard weaving the leaves together.  What are you making?

When it was finished, I even got a camper to model it for me:

Now, this is a very nifty craft, but I must say that, sadly, it is probably too complicated for kids to make.  In fact, I think a lot of adults might have difficulties with it, mostly because the directions in the book were very poor.  Still, if one has some basket weaving skills, it isn’t too too difficult.  In fact, I might even offer it as a program some time.

Someone asked me why I would bother doing this, when I could just go out and buy a hat.  It’s a good question, and one that probably a lot of other people might ask.  My answer is this: I love to make things, and I think it is a great skill to have to be able to use one’s own skills to feed, clothe , etc., oneself.  If I can make a hat out of plants, then I’m using a renewable resource, I’m saving my money, and I’m producing something that is useful.  In my book, these are all good things.

Would you like to make a cat-tail visor for yourself?  Let me know…


About Dahlem Center

The Dahlem Center is a non-profit nature center/environmental education center located on almost 300 acres just south of the city of Jackson, Michigan. The Center is one arm of the Dahlem Conservancy, which includes land conservancy and stewardship in its mission.
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One Response to Fun Things to Do

  1. That’s awfully cute…and the hat is nice too!

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