Crafty activity boxes coming from Museum, Community Living

There’s a fun new way for families to get creative and spend quality time together this summer.

The Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre and Community Living Fort Frances and District (CLFFD) are joining forces to create and give out a limited number of free activity boxes that will be filled with fun crafts, art activities and other surprises to help entertain kids of all ages over the summer months and give families a fun way to while away the hours.

Fort Frances Museum staff member Sarah Marusyk and CLFFD’s Faith Moen have been working together on the boxes, for which registration for the first box launched earlier this week and was almost immediately completely spoken for. The Fort Frances Museum is no stranger to planning activities for kids in town, and Moen has been organizing and putting on Open Air Art Studios in various locations around town for the past several years, which makes the collaborative boxes a perfectly natural next step. Marusyk explained that part of the inspiration for the boxes themselves came from the recently growing trend of subscription boxes.

“The idea kind of came from the FabFitFun boxes,” she said.

“It’s like a FabFitFun box for kids, and we saw the need for activities for children and not knowing if we could do it in person like we have with the art studios before. The tagline we came up with was ‘think outside the box’ and that’s kind of what everyone has to do now. If you want to plan something you have to think outside the box.”

Moen shared that each of the boxes they’re planning to release throughout the summer will come with an assortment of activities, and the first box was designed at least partly with Pride in mind. The pair teased that there would be plenty of surprises for those who choose to get a box, with each of the activities intended to not only get the creative juices flowing with pre-planned crafts, but also set imaginations wild.

“A lot of it we just want to be a surprise,” Moen confirmed.

“We want them to open up the box and see the supplies, see the suggested ideas for use but also come up with their own. Each month we also want the actual box to be repurposed into something as well. For this month we’re going to working on a STEM challenge with the box, but we’ve talked about s’more ovens and different things. We will include supplies and some instructions, but at the end of the day we want it to be their own.”

Each of the limited number of boxes will be available by way of pre-registering on a Google form, a link to which can be found on both the museum and CLFFD’s Facebook pages. To give some perspective on the potential popularity of the box, Marusyk noted that registration for the first month opened up on Monday, and by the end of the day all of the boxes were spoken for. Once the registration spots for all boxes have been taken the link will no longer work. There are measures in place to keep one or two people from claiming all of the boxes, namely that each family is limited to five boxes. Families are encouraged to share one box between multiple kids, but Marusyk and Moen are already looking at increasing the number of available boxes going forward to try and keep up with demand.

The boxes will then be available for pick-up at the Thursday market later in the month. This month’s boxes will be available between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on June 24, and in the event that not all boxes are spoken for in the coming months at pick-up time, then the extras will be available on a first come first served basis.

The immediate success of the boxes isn’t a total surprise. Moen has seen the Open Air Art Studios in the past receive a lot of attention, so the desire for something fun to do is strong with kids and families in the district, particularly as the pandemic restrictions are being slowly lifted and schools are coming to a close for the season. Moen also noted that once restrictions lift, then the in-person Open Air Art Studios could return for those who are interested in taking part.

“We were talking about maybe doing them during the market,” Moen said.

“If we can accommodate with the space and restrictions it may involve,” Marusyk added.

The Fort Frances Museum and Community Living are teaming up to bring local kids a summer full of activities. They are creating activity boxes to give away, and a park passport program, to help families have fun together. -Submitted photo

“And if we can’t then we’ll do more kits as the summer goes on,” Moen concluded.

The kits are currently planned for June, July and August, but there are also plans to do more for kids and families in town, including a novel new idea to get everyone out to local parks during the beautiful summer months. The pair have concocted a park passport that will be distributed with this month’s box, and potentially made available at other locations in the future.

“The idea for the park passport came from the Fort Frances Library,” Marusyk said.

“The idea was to create a little passport that you print, nothing fancy, but for the kids to go to each town park. We’ve got little stamps so they can stamp their passports. It’s just a way for kids to travel to each park and have it feel like an event.”

“It’s something to check off as the summer months go by,” Moen added.

All in all, even in spite of COVID restrictions, enterprising organizations and individuals are making efforts to ensure there is plenty of fun to be had in Fort Frances this summer, even if it requires some outside of the box thinking to get there.