Things I Wouldn't Know If I Didn't Go To Camp: Part 2

Can you start a <insert style> gimp bracelet for me?  This was a very frequently asked question posed by campers when I was on craft shop patrol.  I must admit, I actually didn’t learn how to start a diamond gimp bracelet at camp.  Diamond was the tricky one.  I could do zipper, flat, cobra, square, and circle.

How basic is a bracelet?  A gimp one, or a hemp one?  One of these bracelets is a few pennies worth of material bended and knotted together to form a nice pattern.  Why then, are these incredibly invaluable, handmade pieces of jewelry (often with errors on every third knot), so precious to us?

A tradition we would regularly do with our campers, especially upon the completion of a great canoe trip, was to take a long piece of very thin climbing type rope, cut a custom piece for each person’s wrist, and using a lighter, heat and bind together the two ends of the rope to make a bracelet for each person.  The bracelet was a representation of a special bond we shared.

The rope cost a couple bucks from the camping store.   The materials themselves had almost zero value.  What I learned through these bracelets, representing the shared experiences of a close group of friends, was that the sentimental value, confidence, and trust that lives within the bracelets is incredibly strong.

One summer during A Camp (the first session of the summer) I was a ‘regular’ at ropes which meant for every interest group (camper rotation) I would work at the ropes area.  At the end of the session, Jaime (the ropes girl) gave Brianna (the other regular) and me a blue rope bracelet.  The three of us put them on together, and I can honestly say that my rope was no longer blue by the time I took it off.

Two full years later, the two ends that had melted together to form the strong bond that held my bracelet on came apart.  That bracelet was the most important piece of “flare” that I wore on a day to day basis.  It reminded me of the good times at camp as well as my great session as the ropes regular.  I always had something positive to think about, even if I was having a down day, just by looking at my wrist.

The lesson is - even the most inconsequential, invaluable little token represents something so much bigger.  The shared experiences, the friendships, the memories of camp.  If I hadn’t gone to camp, I wouldn’t have realized how a little piece of rope can leave an impact on many lives for years.

I still have to learn how to start the diamond gimp pattern though!  I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes, and one I appreciate so much because of camp.

“The greatest things in life aren’t things.”

I will take this opportunity to share that my book “The Cabin Path: Leadership Lessons Learned At Camp” will be launching on April 7.  The launch event will be at the Indigo Bookstore in the Eaton Centre in Toronto from 12:00 - 4:00.  It would be great to see you!  For those outside of Toronto and even Canada for that matter, the book will be available for purchase in paperback and eBook formats through  I hope you pick up a copy and pass the book along to your summer camp leaders!