Diary of a Summer Camp Shopaholic

June 18, 2008

Summer camp is here and the lower level of the Museum is full of summer campers of all ages. Those of us who work in the Education Collections area, where we house all of the supplies for Summer Camp, really know how to shop.

Xplorations Summer camp is made of 20 onsite classrooms at HMNS, each with about 20 children each week participating in 20 hours of hands on activities with materials ranging from flowerpots and fingerpaint to raw eggs and racecars – we need a LOT of materials.

My weekends are filled with trips to the more obscure places for the more specific items like 10lbs of bulk flat sided plastic, gemstones for Star Warrior’s sashes and as many mini aluminum pie tins as we can find (believe me, I’ve been to about 10 stores looking for them – they are hard to find) as well as the usual trips to grocery stores and Target for several shopping baskets worth of goodies.

We also order from lots of scientific supply companies, restaurant suppliers and educational suppliers each week. My fabulous ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program intern, Julia, heads out to Fiesta or Randalls at least twice a week for more eggs, milk or baking soda. I thought I’d take a few photos of our supply stash so that you all could see what it takes to fill our camp classrooms with fun for everyone.


Cups and Deli Containers and Plates – oh my.


We try to keep some method to the madness in our supply
room – labeled blue bins help us stay as organized as possible
among the craziness of camp.


Our very own candyland. Candy is used in camp for DNA
models, construction materials and certain candies can even
trigger soda explosions.


The camp crew is very proud of our new “Kitchen Land” where
all things kitchen and food related have gone to live this
summer — allowing them a separate home from construction
paper and fingerprint powder.

We have two refrigerators for camp in our supply area. One contains various “staining items” for Test for the Best’s stain remover test, Wizard Science Academy’s squid and swamp eel for dissecting and many containers of “flobberworms” (earthworms for non-wizard shoppers); the other seems to contain lots and lots of eggs and milk.

Camp trips to the grocery store usually involve at least two or three full baskets and it is always fun to see how long it takes the checker to ask what you’re doing with 20 chicken legs with thighs attached, 40 tubs of vanilla icing, a bag of dog food, 25 boxes of sugar cubes, eight boxes of dinosaur fruit snacks, eight varieties of milk chocolate bars, six, 18-packs of eggs, 44 small oranges and all of the marshmallows that came in on yesterday’s marshmallow delivery. Sometimes people are too embarassed to ask, but when they do and we tell them that it’s for HMNS Summer camp – it explains a lot.


What’s the wierdest thing in your fridge today? We have a vacuum sealed swamp eel (from Nicole’s favorite stop – the Asian market).

Authored By Allison Kellogg

After volunteering at HMNS since 1993, Allison joined HMNS full time in 2003. Her current job responsibilities include curating the education collections and keeping the summer camp classrooms stocked with materials, facilitating Education special events, and coordinating the Museum's overnight program. In her "spare time" she volunteers with the Junior League of Houston and spends her time in artistic pursuits.

One response to “Diary of a Summer Camp Shopaholic”

  1. Hi. I just wawnted to comment that I can totally relate to what you gone through this past summer. Although I work in a different capacity with NY-based residential camps, I have seen “madness” such as these in some upstate NY camps as well.

    The part that brings back personal memories stem from how you mentioned how some candies make sodas explode. I actually was taught why this reaction occurs when I was a camper (mentos + diet soda: The co2, aspartine, and potassium benzoate in the diet soda coupled with the gum arabic, geletin, and nucleation sites in the “tiny pits” of each candy causes this effect). Even though I looked at it for it’s chemical reactions, I was still a child and enjoyed the overall reaction.

    Fun times indeed. Thank you for posting this since it is quite informative to parents and children alike who want to know what goes on behind-the-scenes and why we should all be grateful for the people who shower campers with their knowledge, tutelage, and friendship. Have a good weekend.

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