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Changing Trends In Camp Programs:
A Study Of Ten California Camps Of The Y.W.C.A., The Girl Scouts, And The Camp Fire Girls

Ermina Winifred Brown, 1933

In 1933, Ermina Winifred Brown, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, conducted a research study titled Changing Trends In Camp Programs: A Study Of Ten California Camps Of The Y.W. C. A., The Girl Scouts, And The Camp Fire Girls, in which ten summer camps were investigated to demonstrate “how the present camp [at the time]  program differs from that of earlier years, what it includes now, and how it may be improved for the future.”  Below are images taken from the document that contain important findings about arts and crafts programs at this time: 

“In some camps, the girls are no longer required to go to the hobby groups; they do go, however, because they enjoy it. The number of crafts is being increased to give a wider range of choices. Campers are free to change from one group to another.” (p.75)

“Wasewagan has gone through several stages of development in the choice of activities. At first, every girl was required to attend all the crafts every day: handcraft, nature study and campcraft. In 1929 a "project system" was adopted whereby each girl chose a major project and two minor ones each week. The major took three days to complete, and the minors two. Handcraft, campcraft, nature study, or photography could be chosen as the major. The minors were chosen from: swimming, music, archery, dramatics and first aid. This system had the advantages of a larger number of activities to choose from, and a limit to the activities of any one girl as a guard against over-strain and over-fatigue. “ (p. 90-91)

 

Figure 1 (BELOW): Description of "Handicrafts" (Pages 119-120), Changing Trends In Camp Programs: A Study Of Ten California Camps Of The Y.W.C.A., The Girl Scouts, And The Camp Fire Girls (1933).

Changing_trends_in_camp_program, handcrafts 1951-1.jpg
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Beginning in 1930, Camping Magazine served as a platform for talking about all sorts of issues related to youth summer camps. Below are examples of articles discussing arts and crafts in summer camps from 1930-1938. You can also view the entire archived collection on The Internet Archive.   

Click on each cover to expand and read the selected articles.

Creative Art in Camps

Camping Magazine

November 1931

As the summer camp establishes itself as an educational venture, the expansion of its program sooner or later will include the creative arts. And the camp is in a singularly fortunate position for making creative art a normal and entirely unexpected part of life, because it can approach drawing, painting, writing, or handicraft with the same informal, practical attitude with which it approaches swimming, canoeing, or riding.” 


The introduction of creative arts to camping can mark a first step toward making the camp a place for intellectual as well as physical growth and expansion.

Artless Artisans

Camping Magazine

April 1933

“The negative subject of “Artless Artisans” pimples that something is wrong with arts and crafts in camp. Yes, something is wrong. It is my conviction that arts and crafts in camp, for the most part, are so futile that it would be a greater benefit to the campers if this isolated activity were scrapped and the equivalent time and effort were devoted to water sports and mountain trips. Camp directors generally know more about these latter activities and better understand their purpose….What is wrong with arts and crafts in camp? About 90 percent of the boys’ and girls’ camps either have no crafts worth mentioning in their booklets or, far worse, they have a futile variety that makes artless artisans of the campers. By “artless artisans,” I mean very dull mechanics.”


“I started out by saying that the isolated activity we call arts and crafts should be scrapped. Indeed, it should unless there can be a shop cleaning and a new inventory made of educational assets. It would be worth sacrificing the little of arts and crafts in order to stop the out-put of Artless Artisans, and in order to stop the perversion of camp education by paper cut-outs, plastic-paint, iron castings, sealing wax gadgets and hand-painted china.”


On the other hand, can not arts and crafts be saved in its own name? Can we not reform the activity so there will be at least 90 percent virtue in it instead of only 10 percent? Lets us picture an idea. In our picture is a director who is to organize a new camp; time and money enough are at his disposal to do the best possible job. In due course, the question of arts and crafts or manual training comes up for consideration. What to do with it? First, the director will make a searching study of the whole field of artistic crafts; will digest all available literature on the subject; will consul authorities in art education and artistic, practical crafts; will consult educators to determine a nice balance of esthetic manual training in the camp program; and finally the director will fir this training into his whole scheme of educational camping.”

The Educational Background of Arts and Crafts in Camp

Camping Magazine

April 1933

Arts and crafts, to be justifiable camp, must contribute confluently with the other activities toward the specific objectives in the camp purpose…Also there should be at least enough emphasis on the “arts” to assure always a wrestling achievement that is a please to behold; and an inclusive enough meaning of the “crafts” to take the campers out into the open. This generalization amidst the casual job, as well as the more specialized artistic projects.” 
 

Qualities and Types of Arts and Crafts in Camps

Camping Magazine

April 1933

“Arts and crafts should not revert to primitive or even early colonial processes unless some special advantages result for present purposes…too much of the so-called arts and crafts work commonly seen in our camps, sad to relate, is not artistic and shows very poor techniques in comparison with similar articles made by mass production at a cost often lower than the bare materials used and wasted in the hand work…in the arts and crafts shop there should be available an abundance of reference material such as art books, art and design periodicals, lists of projects, and patterns and models by way of suggestions; not to be copied and duplicated.” 
 

Creative Art in All Camp Activities

Camping Magazine

October 1937

“Chief danger to arts and crafts in camp is segregation, physical and temporal, since it is sometimes the practice to provide a separate building or corner for art work, available at limited hours. Therefore art becomes a limited part of camp life instead of being an integrating factor required by its educational role. The studio had better be thought of as a center whose activities extend to all camp life, a center for tools, materials and instruction…”

May 1930

Camp Handicrafts: Their Use and Abuse

November 1931

Creative Art in Camps,

Exhibits by Section at National Meeting

December 1932 

The Place of Camping in the Field of Education

The Preliminary Report of the Committee on Handicraft

A Counselor Attends a Conference
 

March 1933 

Appraisal of a Camp Through Arts and Crafts

Art in Camps

Counselor Week: Outstanding Types of Camp Leadership

Counseling With and By Counselors: Counselor Reactions

April 1933

Concerning Arts and Crafts in Camps

Coloring in Camp

Artless Artisans

The Educational Background of Arts and Crafts in Camp

Subtleties of the Camp Environment

Do You Know?

Heaven Sent Gifts or Qualifications of an Arts and Crafts Counselor

Qualities and Types of Arts and Crafts in Camps

Bibliography for Arts and Crafts

The Practical Value of Photography at Camp

March 1935

Symbols Add Interest

December 1935 

Craft Medicine for the Spirit: Creating a True American Folk Art Based on Primitive American Culture

Factors Involved in Locating, Developing, and Operating an Organized Camp

An Integrated Camp Curriculum

November 1936

Metal Crafts for Summer Camps

October 1937

Creative Art in All Camp Activities

Book Corner: Arts and Crafts

June 1938

Back to Nature in Crafts: Creative Crafts Do Not Come Wrapped in Packages

The April 1933 issue of Camping Magazine (featured LEFT) focused primarily on arts and crafts in camps and was co-created by Laura Mattoon. 

May 1930

November 1931

December 1932

March 1933

April 1933