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Extreme Scrappers' Motto: Just Glue It

Laundry? Dishes? Fuhgeddaboutit. This camp lets the truly dedicated cut and glue all weekend long.

November 14, 2000|MARNELL JAMESON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Just when you thought the scrapbooking craze had peaked, inveterate scrappers have found a new summit: scrapbook camp, the ultimate scrapbooking getaway. Now the keepers of glued-down memories can scrap to their stenciled heart's content in the beauty and comfort of a well-appointed mountain cabin.

"No responsibilities, no phones to answer, no mouths to feed, no dishes or laundry to do, just time and space to do pages and pages of your wonderful creations," reads the brochure to Megan Marra's Scrapbook Camp and Women's Retreat in Lake Arrowhead.

Capitalizing on the scrapbook fever, Marra, 40, who lives in Van Nuys and is a scrapper herself, purchased a lake-view mountain cabin last June specifically to host weekend scrapbook camps.

"I'd been to a scrapbook camp in Wrightwood, where we had to bring our own bed rolls, and it was very rustic," she said. "I thought, 'This could be so much better.' "

Since August, Marra, mother of two and a successful casting director for commercials and children's television shows, has hosted four camps. Her weekends always fill--often with a wait list. When she proposed the idea to her accountant, Marra remembers he told her: "Go into scrapbooking, and you'll be set for life."

According to Susan Brandt, spokeswoman for the Hobby Industry Assn. in New Jersey, one of five U.S. households has at least one person involved in scrapbooking. Although the size of the industry is difficult to gauge, she said it appears to generate more than $300 million a year and is continuing to grow. Creative Memories, the largest provider of scrapbook resources, did $180 million in business in 1999, said Michelle Iten, spokeswoman for the St. Cloud, Minn.-based company.

Camps started cropping up a few years ago, and there are a few (besides Marra's) in Los Angeles, which offer various degrees of pampering. A weekend with Marra costs $300 and includes two nights, a scrapbook station and five gourmet meals. (Gorgonzola and fig crostini are served one evening; so are s'mores.) Afternoon tea is on Saturday, and for those whose muscles get tight from all that hunching, a masseuse is available to relieve scrapper shoulders.

Upon arrival, guests--who are divided among three guest bedrooms--also get a favor bag, which includes gum, a piece of flannel for wiping fingerprints off photos, earplugs--in case a bunkmate snores--and a coupon for 10% off the next scrapbook weekend.

On a recent weekend, eight women, most strangers to one another, gamely worked around a large table on the two-story cabin's upper level. Each scrapper had her own ark lamp and sorted piles of pictures, adhesives, templates, papers, stickers, cutters and pens. Their only distraction was the mouthwatering smell of the spinach quiche Marra was baking in the kitchen. The parallel between this and the quilting bees of generations past is not lost on these women, each of whom said she belongs to a scrapbook group in her hometown.

"It's all about women sitting around talking, sharing their lives, and creating pieces reflective of their history," said Marra. The women shared tips on scrapbook designs--like how to make snow scenes out of torn paper--as well as perspectives on life. Two women with young children came to escape their families, while two others who live alone came to enjoy some company.

Camper Sandy D'Onofrio, a San Diego mother of two, saw the weekend as quality time by proxy. "It's a great chance to be with myself without the kids, and I don't feel guilty because I'm creating an heirloom for them."

Janet Dore, also from San Diego and the mother of two, came to work on her scrapbook of family vacations. She, too, has one scrapbook for each child, a Christmas scrapbook, and a family album. To keep up, she scraps two nights a week at home, once a month with friends, and then on bonanza weekends like this one, when she might actually catch up. "I'm usually eight months to a year behind."

Sandy Crowe, 53, of Carpinteria, came to the camp because she has been designated to capture the 70-year history of her husband's family's Idaho cabin. Her next project is two recipe books for her two grown daughters, which will contain recipes, where they came from, the events at which they were served and photos of the people who made them.

Finding time to preserve the past is difficult even for committed scrappers, which is what makes them appreciate weekends like this. D'Onofrio just finished chronicling her family's two-week trip to New York, a project that took four hours and six scrapbook pages to complete. Dore says an hour a page is typical; however, some pages--like the ones she created in her children's baby books--take three to five hours each. "But they're works of art," she said.

Expensive works at that. For those getting started, a basic album and supplies can cost from $200 to $300 for a 30-page album (15 two-sided pages), said Creative Memories consultant Pamela Sheldon, who was at the camp in case anyone wanted to buy supplies beyond the many on hand. Realistically, she said, a book could cost $500 to complete--not including the cost of camp.

"It creeps up on you," said Dore.

For information, call (800) 234-5537, or check out http://www.scrapbookcamp.com.

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