Camp EtsyNooga – The What

Some of the materials we used daily: laptops, printed worksheets, markers, pens, bottled water, folders…

Look at YOU… With your speakers and your timing down and your spaces located. I’m so proud of you…

I hope you like what you’ve been creating so far because the work is about to change. Your soundbites and elevator speech are probably pretty dialed in at this point. That’s great for what you need to share with the community. Now though, it’s time to dive into The What.

What exactly IS the camp?

What materials do I need to pull this off?

The STEAM Factor

Here at the Chattanooga Public Library we worked REALLY hard about a year ago to create a document that labeled every single walk up station and program with what we refer to as STEAM tags. The idea is that we can talk to any city government official, any teacher, and parent about all the educational benefits each station can provide their child. In fact Lee Hope, our Youth Services Coordinator, took it one step further in the Children’s Department and tagged all their walk ups and programs in accordance with (ECRR) standards too! I liked this way of thinking so much I can’t turn it off now and I even included this kind of breakdown for every single activity in the book!

The Camp is a complete STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) immersion experience for the teens who participate.

Each week I’ll share the STEAM terms associated with the topics you’ll be covering. However, in overarching sense here’s the big picture impact:

  • S: Social psychology of consumerism, purchasing and product photography. Creation of targeted branding based on social passions, product, identified customer base. Targeting customers based on socioeconomic patterns.
  • T: Use of new artistic equipment. Web based market research. Web based materials research. Organizing inspiration, materials research, pricing research into social media.
  • E: Construction of product. Creation of branded packaging.
  • A: Honing an artistic craft. Experimenting in new artistic mediums. Logo design. Product photography.  Writing about artistic process, artist, products. Booth design. Crafting a stage presence. Practicing public speaking.
  • M: Pricing formulas for profit, wholesale and retail markets. Timing creation process to determine formula outcomes. Sustainable pricing research and cost analysis. Financial literacy.

I bet you wish you had known all this sooner. Maybe you think like me so you’ve already been spouting these benefits (or at least speculating about them) to pretty much whoever will listen. If not and you wish I had mentioned them sooner fear not, they will re-energize your conversations, add a layer of educational depth to your pleads for additional speakers and reinforce the value of the contributions for those who have already agreed to help out.

What Do I Need?

I’ll give you a week by week breakdown of the materials you’ll need to pull of Camp each week but here’s the general set up requirements:


  • Messy Workspace
  • Room to leave stuff hanging on the walls


  • Projector
  • Laptop or iPad with Projector hookup*
  • Ability to play music (Pandora or other streaming service is the easiest)**
  • Printer

*My preferred presentation method is to use my iPad so I can wander around the room helping where needed. Plus I can control the music from it which is nice. I link up to the projector using Apple TV so there are no cords, just lovely wireless freedom.

** I found the Two Door Cinema Club channel on Pandora was the best for our group. I could leave it on a low volume while I was speaking without getting distracted and every now and then the teens would inadvertently bounce along with whatever song was on while working or breathlessly tell me how much they loved the music I picked. Win!

Everyday Items:

  • Folder or binder per camper
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • A TON of Paper*
  • Pens
  • Markers
  • Large Paper to Hang on the Walls
  • Tape
  • Scissors

These items may not be used in every single camp session but I like to keep them on hand for whatever pops up.

*I felt pretty bad about the amount of paper I used for this camp at first. You’ll be printing writing exercises, worksheets, articles and more. It may not seem like much at first but then you remember you’re multiplying everything by up to ten and Holy Moly that’s a LOT of paper. Not to mention printing out additional sheets for your speakers and yourself so you can follow along. If you create an online version of this that works for you I’m gonna love you forever. If not just remember, a lot of teens find it helpful to scribble their thoughts and notes physically. It’s all saved in a folder or binder where they keep track of their work and if your experience is at all like mine you’ll be referring back to these printouts frequently.

  • A local snack each afternoon of Camp (Be careful of allergies!)
  • Bottled water for your speakers
  • Thank You Cards
  • Camp stickers for campers and speakers (More viral marketing! Woohoo!)

These will up your status from library programmer to library goddess/god. Take extra special care of the people who come to help you for free!

If you have organizations or individuals who have asked if you needfinancial assistance with camp the items above make great donations. If not, now you’ve got a shopping list!

Go forth and gather your supplies because coming up next is Prepping and Advertising!


Camp EtsyNooga – The Why

Camp Etsynooga Banner

Okay, a little truthful background – I didn’t even really know what I was creating at first.

I knew I had the beginning of a good idea. I knew it would cover multiple kinds of education. I knew the Etsy name would raise the bar for both expectations of my content and the teen’s end results. I was just compelled to create and see what shape it would take on.

When I came to Chattanooga last fall I was given the green light to simply follow that course and discover what my fledgling Etsy program would become.

Through continuing design tweaks it became apparent that one off programs wouldn’t work. To effectively host a product photography workshop teens would already need to have their shops open. To offer a workshop on packaging they would need to have a clear understanding of both their brand and their intended customer base. It was obvious that the way to go was to run a camp on how to start a small business using solid building blocks- understanding what drives your creativity, defining a solid brand, honing in on the audience for your product, doing the hard work to understand how to price your items for both wholesale and retail, and SO much more.

I had a goal. I would create a camp to teach the basics of starting a business to teens. Then I would teach them how to open an Etsy shop! Ooh! AND I could give them a chance to sell their stuff! Like everything else I do I was already thinking BIG.

This story may sound familiar to you. Maybe you’ve wanted to teach small business classes to teens as the debate of “is college really worth the cost” swirls around us. Maybe you’ve wanted to take your craft program to the next level by teaching your talented teens how their skill actually carries a monetary value. Or, maybe you’re like me and both of those are true as well as your belief that the world would be a better place had we all been given the opportunity to let our creative growth flourish along with our academic growth.

Imagine a world where your lawyer is a macrame master on the side. Where you accountant is also an oil painter who appreciates landscapes. Where beauty and imagination are just as important as earnings and the bottom line.

I firmly believe that by encouraging this age group to take responsibility for their artistic growth during a time when society is telling them they can only be serious about academics, sports or earning money will result in a healthier future for us all.

This post marks the first in a series I’ll be doing about how to run your own version of Camp EtsyNooga. And just like the camp it starts by understanding why you want to do it. So re-read the reasons I just gave, sit down with a pad of paper and hot cup of whatever and mull it over, or talk to some of your trusted teens about what they think. Whatever you do to brainstorm start there and be honest with yourself. If there’s no passion behind a program like this it just won’t work.

Coming up next- The Who

Giving Teens Leadership Experience through Your Volunteer Program

My newest goal at the Chattanooga Public Library is to develop and new branch of our Teen Volunteer Program that’s all about leadership.  If you’ve ever met me or heard me speak in person about volunteer management you’ll know I’m very into creating empowering opportunities that translate well for teens onto college or job applications.  It’s that passion and the freedom of my new job which gave me a great brainstorm just before the holiday season:

I want to teach teens how to program for libraries.

I want them to choose whatever they’re passionate about, let me teach them how to run it as a program and then let them take the driver’s seat and actually run it.  I’ve figure out how to fit all of this into a two hour block of time so it’s easily adapted to school requirements and teenage lives.  Here’s how it works:

Step 1 – Come and tell me what you’re interested in teaching.  I’ll give you a volunteer application to fill out and explain how this works.

Step 2- We schedule a time to get together and I’ll walk you through “How to Run a Program” in a half hour.  We’ll also set up the date and time of your program.

Step 3 – Today is your program!  Work your magic and I’ll act as your helper for the duration of the program.

Step 4 – After your program we’ll take ten minutes to discuss whether or not your enjoyed leading a program and if you’d like to do it again or remain a mysterious one hit wonder!

That’s it.  Super simple.  And when kids are done they’ll have programming experience at a very recognizable nonprofit and I’ll even provide them with a one-sheeter of the kind of work they’ve done translated into “employment ” and “academic” terms they can plug into those applications.

Update, 2/26/2014!:  I recently wrote a piece for The Chattanooga Public Library on a similar topic.

Create Your Own Divergent Release Party

Okay.  So I’m super excited to be working with teens again for a ton of reasons the least of which is because I get to create a totally kick-ass party for the upcoming release of Divergent by Veronica Roth.

I’m gonna let you all (I’m not really ready to say y’all quite yet…) inside my brain as I plan this party for the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library.  You can copy me, adapt my ideas to suit your libraries or tell me I’m a damn fool as you see fit but by all means, get creative!

So far my dream list would include a tunnel of cardboard to create giant fear simulations, a foam pit to jump into that would take photos of folks jumping, a temporary tattoo station, a crazy dystopian hair station, and hair chalking.  There are other, far more realistic ideas but I like to start by dreaming big.  To see some of the great ideas that I’m saving which others have created check out my board on Pinterest here