by Alicia Dziak
Allegany State Park offers two great gift shops — one in the Red House Administration Building and one next to the Quaker Museum. Both stores offer a variety of “everything ASP” from sweatshirts and mugs to stickers and photo frames. For the regular park visitors who have already stocked up on the store goods, making your own one-of-a-kind souvenirs can be a fun way to remember each ASP trip.
Decorate a Birdhouse
Small, unfinished birdhouses can be purchased at craft stores for around $1. You can easily make it look like an ASP cabin by using dark green or brown acrylic paint. Using a small piece of wood, you can design a sign that lists your trail name and cabin number, and adhere it to the birdhouse using a hot glue gun.
Design a Picture Frame
Unfinished wooden picture frames can also be purchased for around $1 from most craft stores. Use your imagination to create a unique frame for your favorite camping photo. You can glue various nature objects like pine cones, pebbles or funky sticks to the frame. If you look hard enough, you might be able to find sticks in the shapes of the letters “ASP” and use hot glue to attach them to the frame. You can also use paint or markers to write specific memories on the border. Don’t forget to take a fun photo to put in your frame. If you visit the park often, it’s fun to take a photo each year in the same setting. For instance, my kids pose with “Creepy Bunny” on the Quaker mini golf course every year.
Be a Painter
Find your inner Picasso and paint a picture of the beauty that surrounds you at ASP. For around $4 each, you can pick up a good-sized canvas and set it up on a cabin porch or picnic table. Bring some brushes, add some paint and — voila! — your masterpiece comes to life. Be sure to sign it and add the date.
Make a T-Shirt
Tie-dye kits and fabric markers are easy to find in most national retailers like Wal-Mart. Plain T-shirts are also pretty inexpensive and can be found in white as well as a variety of colors. Follow package instructions to make a unique shirt. One neat method is to use a heavy tape to mark out the letters “ASP” and then use the dye to squirt around the tape. Puffy paint is now available in glow in the dark colors, great for showing off your creation while enjoying the campfire.
Make a Nature Journal
By stringing brown paper lunch bags together with twine, you can make a simple journal, and the insides of the bags can be used to hold your supplies. Use pencils or your favorite medium to trace various objects you find in the park or sketch them out freehand. Make categories of things you’ve seen: animals, trees, structures, etc., and note where you saw them.
With a little preparation and a little imagination, you’ll feel your creative self emerging as you combine nature and art. Not only are the souvenirs fun mementos of your camping trips spent at ASP, but the time spent creating them with friends and family will give you lasting memories.