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Boondoggle at Handicrafts

By Kristin Marie Bivens

Ozark, IL: Depending where you are in the United States, plastic lacing is also known as craft lace, Gimp, or lanyard. At Camp Ondessonk, it is known as boondoggle. And if you have spent any time at Camp making handicrafts, it is likely you have made a boondoggle item.

Peggy's Boondoggled Backpack

Peggy’s Boondoggled Backpack

It’s less likely you have made as many as volunteer Peggy Hausmann. Peggy guesses she has easily made over 1,000 boondoggled pieces. In Peggy’s four years as a camper, five years as staff, and twenty-one years as a volunteer, she has had over thirty years of opportunities to perfect the craft and pass on her knowledge about the Handicrafts’ mainstay.

And Shannon Sonderman–hailing from Jasper, Indiana–has happily instructed campers in the historical Handicraft activity this summer and last as Handicrafts’ Coordinator. Shannon shared she thinks it is a “great part of [Camp] tradition” to “teach children” and to give campers “something to do with their hands.”

This week, second-year volunteer and former camper Lauren Evitt has instructed campers how to boondoggle. Shannon thinks it is easily remembered, comparing it to bike riding. Shannon added campers, staff, and volunteers who return to camp can all boondoggle “with a slight refresher.” Lauren agrees. She said it has been an easily remembered skill.

Volunteers Peggy Hausmann and Lauren Evitt in Handicrafts

Volunteers Peggy Hausmann and Lauren Evitt in Handicrafts

Beyond the key chain or bracelet, there are non-traditional uses for boondoggle. Shannon has used it to complement macrame edging on a shelf she decorated. Similarly noteworthy, Peggy has given boondoggled gifts to friends on her bowling team to identify individual’s bowling ball bags. She also used a piece to mark her walker after two separate knee replacement surgeries.

According to the Pepperell Braiding Company, the craft has kept hands busy since the 1930s. The company calls it “a waste of time.”  At Camp, boondoggle is a pastime, not a waste of time.

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