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Quick contraptions

What can you make from four items? Craft some quick contraptions for use around the campsite in this creative challenge.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Scissors
  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Clean items of recycling
  • Rope
  • String
  • Sticks
  • Torch, as needed
  • Tarpaulin, as needed
  • Cooking oil, as needed

Before you begin

  • This activity is best run at the start of a camp, so that everyone can make best use of the gadgets they’ve created. You could also run this activity in the run up to your camp at the meeting place as a regular session, with everyone bringing along some clean recycled goods to use. They don’t necessarily need to know what they’ll be doing with them.
  • If you’re not camping near woodland, it’s not likely there’ll be many sticks around. Collect some from elsewhere or bring along staves to use instead. Indeed, not being able to use sticks may be ideal for this activity, as it’ll mean that the campers have to be even more resourceful!

Run the activity

  1. Split into pairs or small groups. The number of groups you have will depend on the resources you have available.
  2. Explain that each group will have 15 minutes to build as many simple camp gadgets from the recycled goods, and use only four items or less on each gadget. They may use tools as well. The person leading the activity should demonstrate making a simple camp gadget by driving two sticks into the ground and hanging some boots on them to dry.
  1. After 15 minutes have passed, everyone should gather together to share ideas. They might sound something like the ideas below.
  2. See if anyone would like to try to make one of the gadgets created by another group. Encourage everyone to share the skills they used to create their gadgets.
  3. Ask if there were any ideas that couldn’t be brought to life due to a lack of more advanced tools. Leaders and helpers should demonstrate how these could be completed safely if the tools are available, and oversee if anyone would like to give it a go.
  4. Leaders and helpers should make any suggestions for camp gadgets that they’ve come up with, and share any listed above that haven’t already been attempted. They could search for new ideas on Pinterest or a similar site.
  5. Remind everyone that when they’re finished with their gadgets at the end of camp, they should be dismantled so that the materials used to build them can be recycled or reused accordingly.


The group made simple camp gadgets from some everyday items. See if anyone made something that they’ve never had on camp before, which might make a big difference to their camp experience. Were they aware that something so useful could be made with those items? How will they use this newfound resourcefulness on future trips?

This activity emphasises how useful everyday items can be. In the second part of the activity, leaders should encourage everyone to discuss the benefits of thinking more carefully about the ways we use everyday items and natural materials around us. Where might this resourceful way of thinking come in useful? How important might resourcefulness be in survival situations? How might reusing materials help reduce wasteful consumption and help the planet?



Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

Flammable items

Always take care when using flammable items (especially if you’re near fire). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.