Crafting Community…and So Much More

  • Teepees by Karen Kimmel Studios (and available via A+R)

  • No detail goes unconsidered.

  • Stencils like those found in Karen Kimmel's Art of Exchange Art Kits at A+R

  • The A+R Toy Lab. This year's installment will be even greater!

  • A+R Toy Lab

  • Game night!

  • Opening evening dinner under the twinkling lights.

  • Haute Mom: our fearless camp leader, Karen Kimmel (far R).

  • Roasting it right with homemade marshmallows and craft chocolate.

  • Clare Vivier is among the fashion designers sharing their talents with parents and kids.

  • Lovely Kristen Stegemoeller, associate creative director of Crafting Community, modeling the flowered leather crown she made in Clare Vivier's workshop

  • Badge booth where crafts made mean badges earned.

  • You do really want these stinkin' pinkin badges.

  • Henna modernists lead by artist-designer (R) and Kimmel Studios artist Melanie Abrantes (C) and friend.

  • Sneaker by Converse; customization by a very cool kid.

  • Saturday night is Disco in the Desert..with Cypress Hills' producer and deejay Muggs at the turntables, no less!

  • Mommy+Me: Taking a breather with Nina from "Disco in the Desert."

Neither one of us had been much for camp as kids. That eagerness among classmates who finally could spend one week in a communal binge of activities seemed a little weird given our own parents willingness throughout the seasons to engage in all sorts of creative projects and camping excursions. Even though I grew up in Southern California and Andy in Northern England, we still ended up with mothers elbow deep in all kinds of crafting and fathers bent on spending extended weekends and school vacations in a trailer or tent.

Then came Crafting Community, a weekend camp for kids and their parents in Palm Springs that is the Technicolor brainchild of artist Karen Kimmel. Along with Stacy Bernstein and Tait Chatmon, this trio re-imagine any routine notions of what camp offers and looks like into nothing short of an art form. Every detail, from craft supply display to afternoon snack table, is carefully considered in advance so the entire experience is filled with a sense of originality, joyful enterprise, and an embrace for design. For starters, the only tents are a couple of  teepees in a lounge zone, brightly hand-painted with Karen’s signature stencils and topped with gorgeous neon pompoms. Part of the allure of the weekend is we all get to retreat to real beds and showers inside our rooms at the Ace Hotel, which co-hosts the weekend escape.

There are morning yoga sessions for parents, and evening family gatherings (our favorite being Saturday night’s “Disco in the Desert” with Cypress Hills’ producer and deejay Muggs!). Workshops are helmed by known fashion designers, fine artists, professional skateboarders and other experts in a mix of fields. No event can happen without corporate involvement, and Karen+Co. manage to minimize any commercial affiliations better than PBS. We experienced the sophomore year of this annual program as a family and participant by setting up the A+R Toy Lab, a little retreat for kids and their parents to take a break from classes and the pool to play with with the many toys we bring or borrow a book from the Lending Library.

We’re very excited to set up the A+R Toy Lab with this year’s installment, happening October 4–6. Just as Crafting Community has grown, now taking over the entire Ace Hotel for the weekend, A+R Toy Lab has, too. Stay tuned here for a hint of what we’ll be bringing. And check out the slide show above for my snapshots from last year.

For more information on Crafting Community, visit; or go directly to sign up (as it always sells out). See you at camp!

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Rose Apodaca