Other Programming

Summer Camp Bead Program

Update 4/1/17 – Since writing this post, I have changed and improved some things about the bead program. I wrote a complete how to guide that you can get on Patchwork. Click here to get more info.

Last year I started a bead reward program. A friend of mine had told me about it. The YMCA she had worked at ran a bead reward program at their camps. So I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a shot.” The rating system of the beads (common to super ultra-rare) came from a workshop called Beads and Nachos: Inspiring Great Staffers and Great Campers that was given by Bryan Vitale and Peter Vigeant at an ACA conference.

I wasn’t sure what the campers would think about it. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get the response that I did. They loved it. I was shocked.

On the first day of camp (a weekly day camp) I explained the program to the campers. That day all campers created a tree cookie name tag that they were required to wear the rest of the week. The necklace part was a thin leather. I had to make sure that any beads I purchased would have a large enough hole for the string or leather to go through.

At the end of each day the camp counselors had to turn in a list of their campers with the bead(s) they were to get the following day. I would then put the beads in a Ziploc bag (one for each counselor) that the counselors would receive the next morning. For each “bead reward” they would receive 2 beads, a set, one for each side of the tree cookie necklace.

The beads ranged from Common to Super Ultra-Rare. As the beads were handed out the campers that received Super Ultra-Rare beads would be recognized in front of the whole camp.

Campers that came back to camp for a few weeks would continue to grow their collection of beads. It became a real token of pride for many of them.

This summer I am planning to give each camper a few sets of friendship beads that they can give to, or trade with, other campers during the week. I’m also planning to give campers the ability to nominate other campers for special beads.

The beads are a mix of pony beads to glass beads.

Here is was our current list of beads.


Return Camper (from a previous week)
Positive Attitude
Good Sportsmanship


Camp Spirit


Fishing (caught a fish)
Game Master
Top Shot (archery)
Craft Superstar
Treasure Hunter
Braveheart (showed courage in the face of fear)
One with Nature

Super Ultra-Rare

Original (a camper who really stands out from the crowd)
Strength of Character
Making a Difference (CITs and Staff get this, but occasionally a camper will, too)
Director’s Bead (I’ve yet to give any of these out. I’m not sure what I would give a pair out for, but all the campers want a set.)


Winner (a team or camper that wins a challenge or game)

Do you run a bead program? What beads would you recommend?


    • Hey, Chris. I wood burn mine, but we use sharpies for the campers’. During staff training we give the staff time to decorate theirs however they please. The campers also get to decorate the back of their tree cookie with markers and stickers. This reminds me, I have to start looking for branches to slice.

    • Thanks, Cody. It ends up being extra work every day, but it’s totally worth it when you see the excitement of the kids. I was surprised to see that even the “cool” kids wanted to earn beads.

  • I am a little confused….do the kids decorate the tree “cookie” with the beads or do they wear the cookie as a medallion with the beads threaded on either side of it….

    • Jaye, they wear it like a medallion with beads threaded on each side. Unfortunately, all the really neat beads have such small holes that it is very difficult to get them threaded. Of course, you don’t have to give them two beads, one for each side. They would be just as happy with one bead, and then they can pick which side it goes on. You could even have them thread it through leather and create a bracelet out of it, or thread the beads through shoe laces. The necklaces worked for us since we already give them tree cookie necklaces as their name tags.

    • Amber, yes, we keep tying and untying each day, which is kind of an issue. First you have to use a knot that will hold, but is easy to untie. I use a variation of the slip knot and since I am using cord for the necklaces it stays pretty well. If you use any type of plastic cord the knot will not hold. The best video I have found that shows you how to tie the knot the same way I do is here. Instead of using one end, like in the video, I use both ends in the knot.

  • I’m so excited to try this with my summer campers this year! I think we’ll use dog tag chains since they’re practically indestructible! They won’t fray and are easy to fasten and unfasten. I know some hand-made glass beads may not fit, but standard pony beads and the like should slip on just fine.

    I’ve already searched for the necklaces and found that you can get a dozen at http://www.orientaltrading.com for around $5.00

    Thanks for this awesome idea!

  • Amanda, I never thought about using dog tag chains. What a great idea. While I love having specialty beads, you’re right that using pony beads is so much easier no matter what you use for the necklace. If only someone would create cool pony beads with different designs on them instead of just colors. Although, the sports beads have large openings as well, and that makes them nice to use.

  • Do you have any other bead ideas? I already run a program similar to this one and I am looking for some fresh new ideas for beads to give out. Let me know.

    Thanksss. 🙂

    • I’ll use wooden beads as well. Basically, if a bead has the same hole size as a pony bead, I’ll use it.

  • I also work at a YMCA camp and we used beads last year in a very similar method. The YMCA has core values (Responsibility, Caring, Respect, and Honesty…faith is also one but we did not include it in the bead program and religion was not a part of camp). Each 4 values had a color and a bead was given of that color when a camper earned it. Counselors kept track of and assigned throughout the day who got what beads and then announced and gave them out the next day. As an outsider of the camp last year, it truly broke my heart that there were some kids who seemed to be “forgotten” in the bead process so that would definitely be my word of caution and something I plan to pay attention to this summer. While yes some kids could earn every bead every day, it is extra important to recognize EVERY child even if it means helping them achieve it. We also found it difficult to keep track of the necklaces as our camp is all summer long and it was too expensive to continually replace the necklace. So esp for longer camps I suggest keeping necklaces in ziplock backs with the kids name on them.

    • Great suggestions, Jill. I completely agree with making sure each child is recognized. As for lost necklaces, we gAther all necklaces at the end of the day and return them the following day.

  • This year I plan on doing our rewards system a little different. Instead of beads and necklaces when counselor “catch” a camper doing something good they will write their name and action on a prize drawing tickets and put the ticket in the basket (staff and tell the child or silenty place it in). Every Friday we will pull out a few names and those kids can pick a prize from the treasure chest. Each kid who has their name in the basket will also receive a certificate from the counselor recognizing them for a job well done.

  • I’ve used beads as staff incentives, but have been wanting to also use them for campers. For staff we award “beads of awesomeness” at the end of each session, based on nominations by their peers that have been submitted over the week. The beads go on their dog tag necklaces.

    The problem I’ve seen with dog tags though, is they are ineffective as nametags. The writing is just too small, especially for longer names.

    • Geo, that’s a good point about the dog tags. I love the idea of the “beads of awesomeness”.

    • Jezzy, we find branches that have fallen and our maintenance guys cut them into small tree cookies. Then I drill the hole in each one. You can buy them from companies like Nature Watch, but they are a bit pricey.

  • this would work great with our Girl Scout day camp. In the Daisy program they earn petal patches, each colored petal represents a line from the Girl Scout Law. At camp the girls can earn the colored bead that corresponds by the line of the law that they followed that day. I do really like the idea of using the dog tag chain! Seems like it would be much easier. Since I have mainly girls we could use cute charms for specialty rewards.

    • Sara, pony beads should easily fit on dog chains. I, however, am sticking with imitation leather cord from the Fire Mountain Gems website. The cord is cheaper than dog tags even though we will still have the issue of tying and untying the cord to add beads.

    • Dwight, I get my beads from a variety of places including S&S, Oriental Trading, Fire Mountain Gems, local craft stores, etc.

  • For the last 3 years I have participated as a counselor/teacher in an “outdoor school” camp (6th graders spend a week of the school year at camp- it’s hosted by a YMCA camp- awesome way to reach kids that would never have had a camp experience otherwise.) Anyway, we have a bead program, but we don’t have different beads for different types of behavior we wish to reward- they just get a bead when they do something good. I love the thought of having “rare” beads for extra special things. I’ll be stealing a few of your ideas…. 🙂

    We just got back about 2 weeks ago, and I’m already thinking about next year! Another way we use them is that they get specific beads for completing specific tasks. For example, we have hiking trails that we use to teach our lessons about biomes, the ecosystem, etc. When they complete a trail (there’s usually a task associated with each trail), they get a specific bead. We do the same with our other activities- canoeing, horseback riding, etc.

    The only other special bead we have is the coveted blue bead.. Again, remember that many of these kids haven’t been in this kind of environment before- so a lot of them don’t feel comfortable errrr, going #2 in a setting where there isn’t as much privacy as home.. Our coordinator has actually had to take a kid to the local hospital because he had gone 4 days without going and was having terrible stomach pain. So now we have one teacher who is the bestower of the blue beads- which you can only get by reporting to her that you had a BM. Sounds weird, but the kids laugh about it, and it takes some of the stress that some of them feel about it- it becomes something you wear with pride instead of something to be embarrassed about. It also creates a lot of openings for humor- skit night usually has many references to “earning a blue bead” etc. I’m not sure if nervousness about using the bathroom is even an issue at traditional summer camp or not- this is the only camp setting I’ve ever worked in, but the blue beads seem to work for us.

    I’m curious, what beads do you use for your most special beads? Are they very distinctive from the rest? I’m trying to get some ideas for “rare beads” but the ones I’ve looked at are all either pretty similar to the rest, or really expensive.

    • George, it sounds like a lot of your beads are more like earning badges through the scouts, by accomplishing certain tasks. I think that’s a great reason to give beads out. As for the special beads I use beads with the letter “o” for original, the director’s bead is one of those expensive ones from Michael’s (but I’ve only given one set out) and a lot of the other beads are taken from a bag of wooden beads that look tribal. The bag or box comes with a variety of beads and I seperate and make piles of the ones that look similar. Some I use for nature beads, others for strength beads, etc. It doesn’t really matter what beads they are as long as everyone in camp knows which beads are for what. I use a simple black bead for humor. Those that think they are camp comedians want a black bead sooooo bad. Even though they can go to the local crafts store and get their own, they don’t. They want to get one from their counselor. They want to wear it and know that they have earned it. It’s great!

      Thanks for sharing your experience with your bead system. Do they keep their beads ona necklace?

  • Oh, one more thing- in our program, beads can also be taken away for the opposite type of behavior that they were given for. You might get a bead today if I notice you picking up some trash that someone left on the trail, but I might take it back tomorrow if I see you drop a wrapper on the ground.

  • I am diggin this whole concept, read everyone’s posts too. I think this is a very good idea for the simple fact it keeps the campers and staff members engaged. I think for me the dog chains would work out in aiding the campers to easily add beads on a daily basis. Does anyone know what is the best length?

  • One camp where I worked they gave out a brown bead for needing improvement. I didnt really care for that bead, and it was the “go to” bead for the “bad kid” that day 🙁 I NEVER gave out one brown bead because I know that EVERY kid does atleast one good thing a day!

    • I agree with you, Tiffanie. We only use the beads as a positive reward, looking for the positive attributes of each camper. Of course, there are those campers where you struggle to find a bead for them. We used to have a “Participation” bead and that was the “go to” bead for my staff with the more difficult campers. I have since eliminated that bead and I challenge my staff to work with those kids towards getting a particular bead. For example, give them the opportunity to help (helper bead), clean something up (cleanliness bead) or lead an activity (leadership bead). Since each camper gets at least one set of beads each day it can be challenging to give each camper a different type of bead every time but I feel it’s necessary. The same goes for giving the same beads out to one camper. Giving a camper the camp spirit bead everyday, no matter how cool it looks, is not going to cut it at my camp. The campers want a variety.

      As for the “needing improvement” bead, most kids would be upset about gettting a brown bead. We want our campers to proudly wear their beads and to work towards getting the Ultra Rare ones. If I gave any of those campers a “bad behavior” bead I think they would refuse to wear their tree cookies and their behavior may even get worse. Good for you for not giving those out.

  • I use just the regular sized pony beads, I think the size is 8/0. If you go with specialty beads (I use a number of these as well, especially for the Ultra Rares) you definitely need to make sure the hole size is large, around pony bead size.

  • I’ll add what my son’s boy scout troop did. You could trade up. So for example, they had a bead that you could earn for every 5 mile hike you when on. When you got 5 of those beads you could trade them in for the Hiking Boot Bead. That allows you to reuse some of the beads, and keep the necklaces of those return campers under control, and could encourage campers to return.

  • We used beads as part of our GS Daisy project. We had the color beads that coordinated to the petal. Each girl earned three beads with each petal. We put them on a key chain on their tote bags they brought with them. We attached the beads using plastic lacing- one strand folded in half and looped through the key ring. To make the knot at the end, we would just loop the lacing back through the bead. This made an easy anchor that stayed in place and also was easy to undo to add beads.

    We are looking to add a bead system to camp this summer. Either the keychain idea or a bandana that has been fringed. the beads can be added to the fringe and then knotted.

    • Thanks for the comment, PEP. It’s great to see other reward systems. Of course, the scouts are all about rewarding particpants for their actions – with badges, beads, pins, prizes, etc.

  • I tried the Bead Program out last summer with my Summer Day Camp. I liked the program because it is a great hands on way for kids to see how hard they are working throughout the summer. But my program really struggled to keep up with the bead rewards (staff forgot to give beads out at the end of the day) and we used dog tag chains which I liked at first but the kids kept breaking them/losing them/etc. What have any other camps used as necklaces (or something else) to show off the beads? Maybe a jar for each kid? I am questioning for next camp season, is it worth the effort that I and my staff put into it? Thoughts fellow camp people?

    • Kelly, it is a lot of work. The way we do it is that I have 4 bead boxes with all the beads separated and labeled in each box for easy access. At the end of each day I get a sheet from each counselor. On that sheet I have all the campers names on it. The counselors keep the sheet on their clipboard. I tell the staff that they must award at lest 1 bead set to each of the campers in their group, if they want to award a camper not in their group a bead set, they can but it’s not necessary. Then I collect the sheets at the end of the day and on an Excel spreadsheet I input the beads that each camper got that day. The next morning I hand out the sheets – on one side is the list of camper’s names with space for writing down the beads they earned that day (and will receive tomorrow), and on the other side is a list of what beads the campers have already earned that week. The first thing we do after announcements is hand out beads to everyone.

      Using cord for the necklaces has been the best material for us. You just have to tie them on with a slip-knot so you can get them off the next day. We are a day camp so we collect all of the necklaces/tree cookies at the end of the day to make sure the campers don’t forget them at home or lose the beads. At the end of the week they get to take them home. We also cut the cord a little long so that if the slip-knot comes undone, creating actual knot making it impossible to untie, we can just cut it to add more beads and then retie it with a proper slip-knot (which I have to teach each staff and CIT how to do).

      It is a lot of work but we feel it is well worth it. After the first summer I thought it may have been to much trouble for the staff, so I suggested that we not do it anymore – not because I didn’t like it, but because I didn’t want my staff to resent the whole process. They refused to let it go. They said the campers loved it and that they (the staff) loved getting beads as well. After that we had total buy-in by the staff. They complain about it every once in a while but they do not want to stop doing it.

  • As a former camper and camp counselor I am thinking I would like to do this with my students. We have been really working on using self-discipline and showing integrity, so we could start with two colors to earn. I think the name tags would be a pain, and I could just do stickers for their name tags, but how cool would it be for them to wear them with pride all day long? Maybe I’ll try some of these ideas for 4th quarter as a trial for next school year.

  • Do you make your own Tree Cookies, or do you buy them? What supplier do you use for the Leather Cord? I am planning on making this part of my Summer Day camps this year!

    Does your Staff change out their beads with each camp or do they make new ones each time?

    • Thom, I have done both, make them and buy them. It’s expensive to buy them but it saves the hassle of finding the right sized sticks and cutting them. If I am able to find a good supply of sticks I would certainly rather make them myself to save the money. I get the cord from Fire Mountain Gems. The staff keep their beads all summer long. Some bring them back the following year while other return staff begin a new collection.

  • Did this way back in the late 70’s at Girl Scout Camp with campers who had the cleanest unit, sang the most, etc. Still have mine from 1979!!!

  • We love this! We will be putting it into place for our Spring day camp this year. We have two questions though – is it bead per item (spirit, archery etc…) or per category (rare, common etc..) and the second question is how did you present and remind them how to earn beads ie: poster board on the wall?

    • Hi Heather, the beads are per item. We only categorize them as common, rare, etc. to give the campers an added incentive to try and get the beads that aren’t given out as much. We do use a poster board that spells it out, but it’s the staff that really encourage it. They may say something like, “Who want’s to earn a Cleanliness bead?”, “The camper that finds the most stuffed/plastic animals will earn the Animal Hunter bead” or “Sally, I know it’s scary, but if you can just get to the top of the ropes ladder you’ll earn the Courage bead.”

  • This is great! I am super excited to try this out this summer!!! However, our youngest campers are 3.5 years old and I am not sure how this will work with the itty bitties. But many have older siblings that would be participating in the program. Any thoughts regarding a minimum age for the bead reward program? Thanks!!!

    • Hi Rana, the ages I have done this program with started at 6 years old. I don’t know what the younger ones would think, but I know they wouldn’t want to be left out if the older campers were getting cool beads. So, I say, give it a shot OR have a different reward program that is special to them. Since I don’t work with that age I don’t really have any good suggestions. If you come up with something and find it’s a hit, please let me know. Thanks and good luck.

  • Hi,

    I did something like this with my Brownie camp. It was only a long weekend (4 days) so it was relatively easy. I found that necklaces etc. always broke and there would be tears. I purchase these pouches from Oriental trading, the girls decorated them however they wished. http://www.orientaltrading.com/diy-zipper-purses-pcs-a2-48_1627.fltr?Ntt=diy%20zipper%20purses

    Everyone gets 2 beads to start and they keep them in pouch. They must have their pouch on at all times (really more for there protection, I would not want a pouch to go ‘missing’). At mealtimes we award beads. We used some of the categories you have listed above. We may not always give one bead, it depended on what had happened. If the person has done some exceptional, they may get up to 3-4. If it was good behaviour or general helping they would get 1-2. You have to be careful, because when it is helping, they all try to go out of their way to assist, and I sometimes got 5 or 6 offers to help me carry a bag. We also did things like first tent to go to sleep, first one ready for inspection, first table ready at mealtime etc.

    All leaders, including parent helpers and young leaders, were encouraged to give beads. They would have to tell what the girl did and call her up to receive her bead(s). Sometime a camper wanted to nominate another camper. This was fine with me as long as I felt it was legitimate. If she did not have her pouch, there was a great chance she would lose the bead. A major rule was being responsible for your things, so it was finders keepers for any beads found on the ground. Some girls were very good and would bring a found bead to me, and I would just tell them to keep it.

    With a busy camp, it was sometimes hard to remember who you were going to give a bead too when it happens in the middle of an activity. That is how we got into the practice of saying the girl ‘remind me to give you a bead because of …’. Of course they never forgot. Some even reminded us that we were supposed to give another girl a bead.

    Another problem was the girls would find beads used by other camps at the site. To be able to tell my beads from the other, I started switching up what I used each year. When we did Olympics, I found these small circle beads from a jewellery crafting website, or I use special shapes, types etc., trying to tie it into the theme.

    At the end the girls counted up how many they had. We did prizes for the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd individual with the most beads and since I had about six groups, they were ranked 1st etc. Since our prizes tied back into our unit (they earned brownie bucks for wearing uniform, badges and behaviour) they were awarded brownie bucks, which made it easier.

    I like how you have the categorized, I may do something do like that this year.

    I love your site. You really helped me through my ‘Harry Potter’ camp a couple of years ago. Many thanks!

    • Jorge-Ann, thank you for sharing that variation on the bead program. I always come across beads that are really neat but the whole is too small to go over the cord we use. With pouches you don’t have to worry about that.

      You mentioned how some of the girls would come to you with beads they found and you tell them to keep it. Have you thought about an “honesty” bead that they would get instead of keeping the bead they found? I think that would be a neat way to reward their integrity.

      I am happy to hear that the site has helped you out. I keep meaning to do an updated post on Harry Potter camp since I have learned a lot since those posts.

  • The ‘honesty’ bead idea is fantastic! I will do that this year.

    I look forward to the Harry Potter camp update!

  • In addition to the beads, I (the director) give out an extremely ultra super rare bead. It’s actually a small bell. I only give out a handful of bells each summer. They’re reserved for campers who have had a huge breakthrough or done something completely outstanding. The kids go nuts for this one. Its also one that only the director can choose to give a camper. My thought process was I want the accomplishment to be heard at all times, hence the bell that makes noise 🙂

    Our staff also do the bead program, but the kids nominate the staff for beads. The staff are also eligible for the bell.

  • Hello! I work for a YMCA camp and like a previous commenter mentioned, we have the 4 core values of responsibility, respect, caring, and honesty. I want to implement a bead program this year, but I am worried that having only 4 colors will get boring for the campers (especially the older ones). Do you have any ideas for how I could incorporate the values but make it more exciting and keep it going all summer? I would like to include achievements somehow… Thanks!

    • Lauren, I would create a list similar to the one I have on this post. Kids love to collect rewards (like the beads) and I think you’re right that if there are only 4 it may get a little boring for a full summer. I would choose larger or “cooler” beads to represent the 4 YMCA Core Values and have specific ways campers can earn them. Perhaps you can divide all the other beads into groups. One set of beads represent Responsibility, one set for Respect, one set for Caring and one set for Honesty. When a camper (or staff person) collects all the beads of that set they earn the Core Value bead.

      As for achievement beads, assign specific bead colors to skills. For example, if someone shoots the bullseye in archery they have earned the Archer’s Bead. Of course, at the archery area a camper could show they are a good listener earning them a Good Listener Bead in the Respect set of beads, they could pick up a piece of trash earning them the Cleanliness Bead also from the Respect set, and they could help another camper earning them the Helper Bead under the Caring set. Would any of those ideas work for you, Lauren?

  • Hi Curt,

    I have a couple of questions.

    1. What do you do if a camper from a previous summer brings their necklace from last year? Do you let them continue adding to their old necklace or do they start from scratch?
    2. How do you assess the “Craft Superstar” bead? I want to give out some sort of craft related bead but I don’t want to deem one camper more “creative” than another.

    • Hi Abbie, we have a few campers bring their necklace from the previous year. It’s fine with us. They are proud of it and it gets the new campers excited about starting their own collection when they see a necklace full of beads. I encourage my staff to bring their necklace from the previous years, although they don’t get quite as many beads per week as the campers. Most campers don’t bring them back, but they keep them in their rooms at home. For those that do bring them back I tell them that once their necklace is 3/4 full they need to start a new one.

      I leave who gets the activity beads up to the activity leader. At staff training we talk about giving beads out to kids that try hard or show a lot of initiative, but also if they excel at something. I am fine with recognizing the creativity of certain campers over others. That’s why we have so many other beads a camper can collect. The key is that each camper gets at least one bead each day. Some will get up to 3 in a day but it’s rare. You’ll find that the campers, especially the younger ones, won’t really care what bead they get as long as they get one and it’s not a duplicate of one they already have.

      Keep in mind that camper who gets the Craft Superstar bead probably won’t get the Top Shot bead or the Game Master bead. We have even more beads now, meaning there are lots of ways a camper can earn a bead. Oh, and if you wait to give the beads the next day, which is what we do, the campers won’t even question the campers who receive an Ultra Rare bead. If you give the bead that day, while they are at crafts, then it WILL sting the other campers that didn’t get one.

      Hope this helps. Have a great summer.

  • I like this idea so much that I am planning on implementing it at the camp I work at this summer. I do have a question for you though. I know that you use name tags, but we’re planning on using bracelets. But I’m having a hard time figuring out how each camper will get a bracelet. We can have 100-150 campers per week, and because wrist sizes are different, I’m hesitant to cut them in advance. I’m also wary of cutting so many bracelets on the first day. We have a giant roll of string, so it’s not even like the counsellors can each take a roll to cut for their own campers. Any ideas?

    • Keep in mind that you’ll want to have some extra length on the bracelets for beads and a slipknot. I would cut a long piece of string to give to each counselor so they can cut the right length of bracelet for each of their campers. Don’t do it all yourself. Or, you can do what I do which is have the crafts instructor and an assistant or two (CITs) make all the necklaces and name tags (in your case, the bracelets) on the first day. All of them are made a little longer than you would expect. Once they are handed out the counselors can cut off any excess cord (or string) to fit correctly for their campers. Hope these suggestions help. Good luck, Karen.

  • Nice discussion guys! I will also be starting this soon and I have done it before when I was an intern. For my after school program I actually want to have a trade in system where kids can trade in beads to earn a reward. Each bead has a specific value.

    2 beads = free life in an elimination game
    5 beads = go gurt or a toy from the prize box

    Group trade in 100 beads = ice cream/milkshake party for that whole group (about 15 kids)

    150 beads = pie a counselor in the face.

    Whole program trade in of 300 beads = pizza party.

    So not only can you earn beads and keep them, but if you trade them in you get better rewards. This helps the kids that may not be as into it find more value in earning one. You get good things for doing good things.

    I’m also looking to have rare and mastery beads for specific camps or activities that will take more skill to achieve. The possibilities are endless!!

    I just want to know what’s the best type of necklace to use to store them and how to keep them organized and ready to be given out!

    Oh lastly. Don’t forget about the opportunity to allow the kids to reward each other with beads for displaying good values! It’s a great way to get them looking at each other and holding each other accountable for actions.

    • Cool thanks! Could I ask what color you went with for the chord? For summer camp I will be doing the tree cookie, but for my after school pilot bead program I will only be using a necklace and possibly some letter beads with each child’s initials given as their first bead, along with a special after school program bead that you can only get by attending after school program.

      That’s he only idea I could come up with to have the children know which was theirs.

      • Hi Ron, We were limited in colors based on the type of cord we went with. There was black, brown and tan. We went with black for staff and tan for campers.

        As for using this in an after school program, it could be very difficult to do since a big part of the program is that the campers wore the necklaces daily which kept the program on their mind and really encouraged them to add more beads. With an after school program you would need the kids to remember to bring the necklaces daily (nearly impossible to make that happen) or keep them at the center, but then they don’t get to take them home and show them off to the family. I like the way you have an option to trade in beads for your program. Here are a couple of other ideas.

        You could assign each child a specific type/color of bead. When they so something positive a bead of their color goes into a jar. As the jar fills with all the different colors (remember, each color represents on of the kids in your program) you can have rewards at different levels of the jar like stickers for everyone. When the jar fills up you can have a pizza party or something like that. Then separate the beads and see who has the most in the jar. That child gets a special prize.

        The other option for jars and beads is to divide the kids into four teams and each of the teams will have a different jar. Each child still has their own bead color but now when they earn one it goes into their team jar, instead of one community jar. It’s very Hogwarts-ish. (edited)

        • Great idea! I think I could use the jars per group four after school program just to introduce the idea and save everything else for camp. I’ll also only have to use 4 bead colors (caring , respect, honesty, responsibility) and give those out to someone in a group that displays one of those values and its added to the group jar. The group can then win prizes such as a pizza part or extra snack or the chance to pie their counselor in the face!

          I’d have to figure out how to individually recognize some of the kids though and give them an extra prize possibly. Maybe just keep track on paper.

  • Is there a lanyard option that has a detachable back? I am worried about choking hazards if the necklace gets caught in something. But I love the bead idea!

    • Sam, some people will use those dog tag style necklaces, but they seem to pop off pretty easy. Then you’re picking up a bunch of beads off the ground. I have never had a problem with the cord getting stuck and choking anyone. However, I will say that I have the campers take off the necklace before doing things like high ropes or even playing field games…and, of course, swimming.

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