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It Works For Us: Bead Program at Spring Heights – Guest Post by Amy Mullins

06 Nov 2019 2:39 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

It can be hard to keep track of all the fantastic activities at camp! Spring Heights Camp and Retreat Center in Spencer, West Virginia has taken basic plastic craft beads and turned them into a fun way for campers, staff, and volunteers to remember participating in camp activities. 

Each person at camp wears a leather nametag that they personally decorate. When they complete an activity, they “earn” a bead to add to their nametag. These beads are not only an excellent way to keep track of the activities at camp, but also a unique reward system for campers who may need the extra motivation to participate, behave during activities, and choose a challenge that is outside their comfort zone. 

Family groups have a “bead ceremony” each night before bed. At the bead ceremony, staff and campers can share beads with one another. Each camper begins their journey with a Spring Heights bead. As they move through their week at camp, campers will earn friendship beads, happy camper beads, hydration beads, a bead for hiking, a bead for swimming, etc…the opportunities to earn beads are endless! Each bead is unique and reminds campers of their many accomplishments while at camp. The bead ceremony is a great time of bonding as a family group. Our bead program is extremely popular with staff and campers. Many campers can point to a bead and proudly say, “This is my friendship bead that Sarah gave me!” and “I earned this bead horseback riding!” Some campers have collected their name tags for years to grow their bead collection! 

We have two extra-special beads: the “Spirit of Camp” bead and the “Christian Leadership” bead that we hand out at closing campfire (an all-camp gathering). A camper must be nominated to receive this bead. The “Spirit of Camp” bead goes to campers who exemplify the true spirit of Spring Heights, who are always positive, participating, and ready for adventure! The “Christian Leadership” bead goes to campers who shine God’s light in everything they do, dive deep into Bible Study, and lead their peers into a deeper relationship with Christ.

The beautiful part of a bead system is it is adaptable to any camp context. You can make it what you need! Craft beads are readily accessible, and your camp can assign meaning to any bead based on your camp activities. The bead system encourages kids to try new things, builds self-esteem, and creates a strong bond in family groups. It is a simple and fun way to make a lasting memory! 

My name is Amy Mullins, and I serve as Camp Manager of Spring Heights Camp and Retreat Center. I have been with the camp for 9 years and started at the horse barn. I love animals and I am always looking to add to our camp farm. I love spending my spare time with my two kids and husband. I have the best job and would not change it for anything.

Photos courtesy of Spring Heights.

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