Childhood tradition

This particular tradition is from when my informant was a participant at an elementary school-sponsored Outdoor Education trip in the sixth grade. She remembers it being a night around the campfire where the camp counselor, whose name was Shauna, brought out a ton of string in different colors and told every camper to take four pieces. Shauna then told the campers how to tie the strings together, what each color meant, and the proper order in which to tie the strings around each other to make a bracelet.

“It was the coolest thing ever when I was twelve. As soon as I went home I went out and bought a bunch of different colored strings, to start making the bracelets myself. At camp it was all about making them with other people and making wishes (since the wish would come true when the bracelet fell off–you weren’t allowed to cut them off or break them on purpose, or the wish wouldn’t come true) but once I came home I just cared about having the most bracelets or the fanciest. That summer I ended up having like twenty on my wrists and ankles.”

I remember this craze very well, because I too owned a large amount of string to use for bracelets. I even had a book to help with the more intricate designs; I learned this from my Girl Scout camp counselors. I was a firm believer in the “your-wish-will-come-true” part of the tradition, too, though by the time the bracelet fell off I had most likely forgotten what my wish was. My informant’s comment about what the various colors meant was interesting to me too, because I had not heard that before. Her Outdoor Ed camp was in the mountains of Southern California, but another friend who attended a similar camp in Virginia also talked about making friendship bracelets. However, it seems to be a mainly-female tradition, because there are not many boys who would sport the bracelets in elementary school. In addition, the craze seemed to lull by middle school, though I do still have my box of string!