This past summer, my library decided to go rogue with our Summer Reading theme. We chose “Characters Welcome,” and I planned all of my programs around popular book series for teens. One of my programs was Ranger Training Camp, based on the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan. Activities included edible plant identification, tracking practice, and an archery range with a Nerf archery set. Since Rangers are also experts at wilderness survival, I figured it was also a great time to try out one of the crafts that’s been gathering cobwebs in the back of my mind forever: paracord survival bracelets.
After reading some online instructions and watching a few how-to videos, though, I discovered that they take quite a bit of time and patience, and I was pretty sure my teens would never sit still that long. Even so, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, so I decided to make my own take-home craft kits and leave them out at the program. The program wasn’t attended as well as I had hoped, though, so when it was over, I had a ton of leftover kits. Lacking a place to store them, I threw them in a basket and put them in my teen room with a sign challenging the teens to make a bracelet and post a photo on social media.
The resulting passive program was one of the greatest accidental successes I have ever had. Within two days, the kits were all gone and the photos of teens in paracord bracelets rolled in. Not only did the kits get used up, my teen Facebook and Twitter saw a usage boost, too!
How to Make the Kits:
For each kit, you need enough paracord to make a bracelet, a clasp, instructions, and a Ziploc bag to put it all in.
I found clear, illustrated instructions in a printable PDF online from Operation Gratitude. The PDF is long, but I liked it for its illustrations. As a bonus, Operation Gratitude also includes an address where you can send your completed bracelet; if you don’t want to wear it, Operation Gratitude will pass it on to a soldier overseas.
Operation Gratitude suggested eight feet of paracord, or one foot of paracord per inch of bracelet, for each person. I needed to make 30 kits, so buying the paracord in bulk was my best option. It was easy to find bulk rolls of paracord and clasps on Amazon, and they were relatively inexpensive. Paracord comes in a wide variety of colors.
The most time-consuming part of this project was measuring and cutting the paracord. Once you cut into the paracord, the ends will fray immediately. To combat the fraying, you can melt the ends with a lighter. If your library (like mine) frowns upon open flames, just coat the ends with superglue and let them dry. Bundle up your length of paracord and stick it in a baggie with a clasp and the instructions, and they’re ready for the teens to take home!
Because of the great accidental success of my paracord survival bracelet kits, I’m hoping to make teen takeout crafts a regular thing in the near future. If you have a favorite take-home craft for your teens, please tell me about it in the comments!