Scrapbook retreats mingle travel with craft
Dana Camp first started scrapbooking in 1997. It was a hobby that soon consumed her. The Douglasville, Ga., resident started an online scrapper's group and traveled to Oklahoma and Ohio for weekend scrapbooking retreats. She even went on a seven-day scrapbooking Caribbean cruise with three of her friends. "It quickly turned into an addiction and I couldn't stop," she says.
Camp then discovered a way to turn her passion for preserving pictures into a full-time endeavor. Finding no retreats in Georgia, she decided to go into business for herself, opening Camp Crop Alot in 2003. Camp now owns two Georgia homes, in Americus and Temple, that she rents out to scrappers and other types of hobbyists. "The craft retreat industry has grown tremendously," Camp says. "I'm booked pretty much every weekend of the year."
More than 32 million Americans scrapbook, and that number keeps going up, according to the most recent Scrapbooking in America Survey sponsored by Creative Keepsakes, a leading scrapbooking magazine. Distractions and hectic schedules make it tough for scrapbookers to devote much time to it at home, so retailers have long been hosting crops, a one-day event usually held at a local scrapbook store, as a way to demonstrate new techniques and highlight new products. Retreats, which expanded on that idea, started popping up in the late 1990s and now number in the thousands, according to Dennis Conforto, owner of Scrapbooking.com, an industry publication that reaches 350,000 readers each month. Roughly one in five of the Angie's List poll respondents who scrapbook say they've attended at least one.
"Scrapbooking retreats are a creative, fun escape," says Jessica Acs, president of the International Scrapbooking Association. "They allow them to get away from their daily lives and concentrate solely on scrapbooking; plus, they can win prizes, socialize with others and learn new things."
Visitors to Cornerstone Memories, an all-inclusive craft retreat in Tipton, Ind., can shuffle around the turn-of-the-century bed and breakfast in their slippers, enjoying home-cooked meals, a fully stocked craft room and on-site spa services to get their creative juices flowing. Cornerstone co-owners Corina Redmon, Karen Smeltzer and Andrea Grubb and hostess Tricia Nelson used to get together once a month to scrapbook, Redmon says, "then we visited a retreat and just enjoyed it so much, we said 'we can do this.'" Attendance has grown more than 150 percent since opening in January 2007.
Some have taken their love of scrapping to the seas - many cruise lines now offer scrapbooking retreats. Jim West, CEO of Travel Alliance Inc., operates 15 niche travel companies targeting scrappers, beaders, quilters and more. The destinations include Italy, China and Hawaii and cost anywhere from $250 to $2,700.
No matter where they travel, the people who visit the retreats share more than just a love of scrapbooking. They all relish the sisterhood aspect. As Mike Hartnett, publisher of Creative Leisure News, which covers the craft industry, puts it: "It's a female version of men going off on fishing trips."