Top 10 Things NOT to Buy through S&S

This is the much-anticipated sequel to my “Top 10 Items For Your S&S Order This Year” entry. Or at least, I’ve been anticipating it.  Truth be told, I decided to write this entry mostly because I had a rant in my head about how much I dislike craft kits!  I’ve tucked those items away at #2 on the list in a practice of self-restraint and courtesy, because, overall, I really do like S&S!  Just not craft kits.

Anyway, as I have mentioned in the past, there are some critical items to order before the start of your summer from your favorite vendor.  My rule is to order quality items that support creativity and not direct it.  In my opinion, the best supplies for your camp purposes are plentiful rolls of tinfoil, unlimited duct and masking tape, hand-me-down drama clothes and loads of facepaint.  Back to the basics, people!

So, here we go: The top ten things to avoid when placing your supplies order for this summer.

1. Tie Dye Kits: Buy Rit Dye Instead!

Tie Dye kits are not good.  Well, maybe there are some that are.  But what is really good, and really, really cheap, is Rit Dye.  It comes in tons of colors and can usually be found in the laundry aisle at your local superstore.

rit dye

2. Craft!

I have several problems with craft kits.  They are expensive but, beyond that fact, they are wholly uncreative and boring.  There are exponential things that kids can create at Arts & Crafts or Woodshop, so please focus on not premade kits but a wide variety of supplies that can be turned into anything.  Your recycling bin at camp is a great place to start.  Once we got a lady who donated more than one hundred various baskets to camp and we got so many miles out of those.  Scrap wood…a collection of old National Geographic Magazines…collected leaves from camp…I could go on and on!  The world is so big beyond craft kits.

Jack and Laura from Camping Coast to Coast and Go Camp Pro (among other endeavors) did a presentation at Mid-States about the Makerspace concept.  It made my heart sing!  I will step off my soap box to implore you to PLEASE read Laura’s blog article about this concept.

Here are three of the most hilarious and non-recommended craft kits from a craft kit despiser like me: 

"Bobblehead Terrier Dog"

"Bobblehead Terrier Dog"

"Shoe Key Ring Craft Kit"

"Shoe Key Ring Craft Kit"

"Craft Stick Barrel Bank"

"Craft Stick Barrel Bank"

3. Blindfold set

What?  Make your own blindfolds.  Even a backwards hoodie or the ol' honor system will do!


4. Dress Up your local thrift store instead

After being at YMCA Camp Al-Gon-Quian for nine years, the dress-up clothes on camp started to invoke amazing memories.  The dress that both Peter and Elissa have worn (on separate occasions) for Wild Wild West Night…the shirt that Jordan Lacy liked to wear as pants…the gorilla suits that have served so many purposes beyond being a gorilla.  Durable and fun, the dress up clothes that camps have collected throughout the years tell the unique stories of your camps.  Enjoy creating and maintaining these collections, and your local Gold Mine will also benefit from any purchase made!

5. Inflatable mouse and cheese toss game

Please only purchase this if you are going to use it on the waterfront…really, in all my experiences, this would pop immediately even if it is of durable construction, or turn into a raft.  That being said, a toss game with a regular raft (the ones with the holes built in already that cost about $2.99 at your local box store) would be a great DIY inflatable mouse and cheese toss game!

6. Knock down already own a lot of these

Another solid example of the treasures that you can find in your own recycling center.  Beware of sharp edges when reusing cans and other bits of recycling, but there is absolutely no need to buy replicas of items you are already discarding!

7. Blaster balloon launcher...ouch

My parents had certain rules for my sister and I growing up.  Rollerblading?  Wear a helmet.  Biking?  Wear a helmet.  Trampoline time at the neighbor's house?  Only one bouncer at a time.  (This was especially difficult because we were the ONLY ones with this rule but yes, I understand now, this is an important rule!).  For the 1990s version of me, these rules could be at best tedious and at worst very embarrassing.  Nowadays, I credit my risk-conscious parents for creating me as a risk-management expert.  My eye for potential disasters was conditioned as soon as I left the womb.  That being said, enter the blaster balloon launcher.  This was one of those big Kurtz family no-nos.  When the lifeguards at our local park went to launch water balloons and other various ammo out of one of these, we had to stay clear.  Sure, with proper operation and conscientiousness, these things can be fun.  However, they’re not really worth it.  All it takes is one slightly reckless counselor or one split-second decision to put a potato in that baby instead of a soft, pleasant water balloon to have a disaster on your hands.  There are plenty of additional ways to have fun, so I’d just skip this guy.  Maybe your woodshop class could create a catapult instead.

balloon launcher.jpg

8. Mini donut maker????

Really confused about this one…looks like a wedding registry gone bad.  Go play outside.

9. Gaga balls...go to the store instead

The best gaga balls are the ones that are between $1-$4 at Walmart or your other box store of choice.  They tend to run out toward the end of the season, so I stock up in June and July.  Please pull the balls out through the side instead of what this girl did:

10. “Nature Crafts” & Exhibit A: Seashell Sand Art

I think one of the reasons I really don’t like craft kits is because they are impersonal and just generate more trash down the road.  (Yes, I am reading a book with the subtitle "The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing", so these strike an extra-special chord.  There will be a blog article about that book in the future.)  What I'm trying to say is...please teach campers about being good stewards of the environment..about reuse, using materials wisely, and enjoying ACTUAL nature!

Stay strong, stay focused, and happy purchasing!!