Craft-A-Way Camp: All Things Must Pass

Painting by Betsy Salzman

To children, the summer days seem to shine on forever, and camp seems like a timeless tradition. But Craft-A-Way has been a camp for adults. And as adults, we know that our time in the sun is limited. We know that a camp—like all our endeavors—is a struggle against time.

After seven years and five Camps, the time has come to bid Craft-A-Way a fond farewell. We won’t be hosting a Camp this summer, and we don’t have any plans to do so in the future. Last year’s Camp – as rich in laughter, friendship, and creativity as those that came before – will be remembered as the finale. We’ll miss this annual gathering, and we know that many of you will too. But we’re glad that it could end on such a high note.

Craft-A-Way began in a conversation with our friend Marcy: Wouldn’t it be great if we could spend some unhurried time connecting with the crafters we always see amid the bustle of a fair? It’s a conversation many have had over the years. What made this one different, is that we immediately got up and began striving to make the dream a reality. Craft-A-Way flowered into fun and relaxation, but only because its roots were fed by a lot of hard work.

Today, we’re still working hard, but we’re not in a position to give Craft-A-Way Camp all the time and energy it requires. Our careers are becoming more demanding. Our children need guidance as they enter their teen years. And it’s becoming more and more clear that our time and energy are limited resources.

For as long as we’ve had a family, we’ve been working to build Michigan’s indie craft scene. And for as long as Michigan has had an indie craft scene, our family has been a part of it! This community has been so good to us, and we like to think we’ve done it some good as well. We hope we’ll always keep that connection. But right now, our focus has to be elsewhere.

Hard work is just one of the factors that made Craft-A-Way special. Another, of course, is magic. You’ll often hear our campers talk about the magic: Those moments when our everyday concerns would disappear, and all we would see around us was love, joy, and creativity.

That kind of magic is rare and precious, and it may seem strange to leave a place where we’ve found it so often. But here’s the thing: Magic is one of those creatures that’s beautiful because it’s wild. You can’t teach it to come when you call. Efforts to tame or cage it are never anything but sad. All you can do is follow it where it roams.

Small Craft has followed the magic down a lot of branching paths. It’s led us to sell upcycled craft supplies in a Flint Masonic Temple. To send a costumed gnome capering through an Ypsilanti brewery. To give away vegan donuts in an anarchist collective’s Woodbridge theater. All of these were great adventures. But if we’d lingered too long on any one, we never would have made our way to Camp.

From the beginning, Craft-A-Way has been about building community. And in that regard, it’s been a great success. A close-knit group of regulars has formed and grown at Camp, bonding over handmade projects, potluck dishes, and inside jokes. These campers now gather for overnight craft parties throughout the year. There’s no doubt that this community will continue to thrive, even as Craft-A-Way comes to an end.

Craft-A-Way has always had a warm welcome for old and new friends alike. Last summer, Talia Halliday drove up from Bloomington, Indiana on her own, introduced herself to the Camp, and was amazed by what she found. “These people truly Love each other,” she wrote. “And they aren’t afraid to show it.”

If Craft-A-Way has a legacy, let it be this. Years from now, when Camp is just a fading memory, let Michigan still be known as a place where crafters share a true and fearless love.

-Amy and Ethan Cronkite

 

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