We recently attended the annual ACA camping conference in New York City. Our time was divided between the workshops, which were both informative and inspiring, and our favorite...the exhibitor hall, where we were introduced to many exciting new products that are sure to electrify the summer of 2005. Check out the following for the 5 most unique or interesting vendors that we met.

  1. Diggler - Talk about cool! A Diggler is a cross between a mountain bike and a scooter-click here for a picture. What we like about them is the increased safety over mountain bikes - you can easily bail off of the scooter and it's virtually impossible to flip over the handlebars. The product appears to be very well made, and the price is relatively affordable. Additionally, a competent staff member can much more easily take a group around camp on Digglers than mountain bikes.

  2. Nature
    We don't know about your camp, but the hardest program to offer is always a good nature program. Nature Watch provides inexpensive kits that provide the supplies and educational hand-outs for the activity. There are many themes and categories to choose from, ranging from bats to space exploration. The best part - the owner Harold is a camp director himself, and gone through great lengths to include products that make sense for camp programs and budgets.

  3. Custom Promotional Products - They make the rubber wrist bands similar to those made popular by Lance Armstrong's cancer campaign. You can get them engraved (like Lance) or printed (a cheaper, but not as cool, option). We think they'll sell like hotcakes in 2005...

  4. True to Life Training - These folks provide a wide range of relevant trainings for summer camps and other organizations. The most interesting part of their program is the unique way that they use role playing with the groups. They actually hire real actors to play various camper roles (upset, beligerent, homesick, etc.) in conjunction with their facilitators.

  5. Simply Camp - This company creates and ships "memory dvd's" to your campers. They charge the families directly and send you a check at the end of the summer. You provide the pictures, editorial comments, etc and they will edit the dvd to music. You can get a sample DVD from them - very cool end-product for an affordable price.

  YES! Print all games and skits

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