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Basket weaving is regular craft at N-Sid-Sen camps

A hobby has been a basket weaver’s ‘ticket’ to assist at camps for 12 years.

Nancy Minard
Nancy Minard packs her car with basket supplies for camp.

Nancy Minard’s 1990 fall vacation with her mother at the John Campbell Folk School in North Carolina opened Minard to summers since 1999, “vacationing” at N-Sid-Sen as the in-residence basket-weaving instructor for many of the kids, intermediate, junior high and senior high camps.

She learned to make Appalachian egg baskets in North Carolina.  Since then she learned to make Cherokee-style baskets, which she likes because they are “beautiful and useful.”

For beginners, she uses simple wooden bottom baskets with spokes of reed. Campers then move on to making baskets with woven bases, which lets them experiment with many sizes and forms, she said.

“There’s structure and room to play in basketry, as there is in cooking,” she said.  “You start with the recipe and than decide what to do to change it.”

She helped summer 2011 campers make free-form baskets, using Styrofoam cups as the base and then shredding the Styrofoam after it’s made.

Campers usually help each other with glitches, especially when the craft room is full and Nancy has many children needing help.

Some older campers who have been weaving since attending Kids camps teach other campers when they go to the craft room in their free time.

Basketry gives children, youth and adults a chance to explore an ancient craft, which some campers have now picked up as a hobby.

Minard has found, particularly for junior and senior high campers, that basket weaving is a means to build community among those who don’t go to the beach to swim or do water sports.

“Conversations in the craft room can be both crazy and profound,” she said.

“Sometimes, it’s where campers who feel out of place come,” she said.  “It’s also where they learn it’s okay to make mistakes and work them in.

She offers campers a progression in weaving skills, using wooden bases with holes and spokes for beginners.  They begin with one strand.  Older campers may use wooden bases to practice variations of patterns and colors.

Minard dyes the reed before she brings it to camp.  Dyeing the reed herself is less expensive than buying dyed materials

“Observing the campers, I’m more adventurous with color now, adding purple, orange and green.  Some use orange, yellow and pink—sunset colors,” she said.

The campers encourage each other to try variations. Through the week they become more aware of each other, and through the week, community happens.  Community is a work of the Holy Spirit,” she said.

Just as learning to swim, canoe and water ski build confidence, completing a basket develops feelings of confidence and competence.

“One fourth grader struggled with his basket, and then it began to take shape, and he gained confidence,” she said.  “He immediately became and enthusiastic weaver.”

Minard, who moved from upstate New York to Hanford in the fourth grade, earned a bachelor’s degree in education and journalism in 1958 at Whitworth University and taught a few years in Bellevue before she married, Jim Minard. 

They lived 20 years in northern New Jersey, where she worked as a reference librarian. 

Camping was new for her.  She did not go to camps as a child and New Jersey is one of a few states with no UCC camp.

In Spokane, Minard volunteers and helps with editing The Fig Tree newspaper.

The Minards moved to Spokane Valley in 1998 and joined Veradale UCC. 

A coffee-hour conversation with Randy Crowe, managing director of N-Sid-Sen, led him to invite her to come to camp the next summer to teach basket weaving at junior and senior high aqua camps.

Teaching basket weaving works for me,” she said, pleased that children who catch on help others.  “They could work me out of a job.”

For information, call 924-6737.


Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © October 2011





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