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The History of Neon Lights

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Hey, Light Lovers!

We offer some pretty cool products here at Everything Summer Camp. And the history behind the cool things we sell typically have just as cool of an origin as we peel back the years to discover how footlocker trunks looked in their beginning, what people used to brush their teeth before there was the American Dental Association, or the story of how stuffed animals came to be.

Today let’s take a look at the awesome Camp Bunk decoration we carry from iScream called the DIY Neon-Effect Light. While this is not true neon light, it looks cool and lets you spell out anything you can with three meters pink, neon effect flex! Check it out by clicking right here. So when were these interesting form of lights invented? 

Although, they wouldn’t completely be invented for another 47 years, our story begins in 1855 when one scientist Heinrich Geissler was experimenting with different types of light. Not only was Mr. Heinrich a physicist, he was a glassblower as well. Combining his passions, he was experimenting with what would happen if electricity passed through gas that was contained in a glass tube. Mr. Heinrich, however, is not the inventor of neon lights. 

Neon is a gas and one that had not been discovered until 1898. It’s a very rare gas that is collected by a couple processes called liquefaction and then fractional distillation. Georges Claude, a French inventor, engineer, and chemist

was the very first scientist to experiment with neon gas in a Geissler tube. He experimented with lots of gases.

The color of the light produced depends on the gas inside the glass tubes. Lights that contain neon gas are dark orange. Hydrogen makes red lights and helium makes yellow. Mercury glows blue. But, since it all started off with the dark orange glow of electrified neon, all other lights have adopted the ‘neon’ name.

The glassblower, Heinrich Geissler would have marveled at the art form that came from his early experiments with his Geissler tube. To make all the neon signs and images that you see outside downtown shops, malls, gamerooms, and elsewhere, the glass is heated to a specific temperature that it can be handled with tools that people use to bend and reshape the glass to form letters or images.

Have fun with the iScream DIY Neon-Effect Light (no glassblowing or bending involved). You can share you knowledge now, next time you encounter a “neon” light. Really impress your company and let them know that that blue neon light is actually filled with mercury in gas form! Until next time, Camp Fans! As always, thanks for reading!


- John

The History of Stuffed Animals

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Hey, Cuddly Campers!

Who doesn’t like to cozy up with a stuffed companion when it’s time to go to sleep? Having that warm company who’s always waiting for you at bedtime is a joy known to boys and girls alike. Even in adulthood, I still have Bobo the monkey—my favorite stuffed animal from when I turned one year old.

I wrote a Blog post a number of years back about the story behind the Teddy Bear and why it’s named after Theodore Roosevelt. You can check out the post by clicking right here. But that only tells the story of the Teddy Bear, not the history of stuffed animals altogether. 

Stuffed animal history surprisingly goes way back like so many things to the Egyptian culture, hundreds of years back. No stuffed animal remains have ever been discovered, however, they show up in paintings around Egyptian tombs. They were likely crude and not the extremely soft stuffed animals we have today. They are believed to have been comforting gifts to remember a pet that has passed on.

A more modern take on these sweet companions arrived in the USA in the 1830s when taxidermy—the art of stuffing real animals—inspired the idea for a cuddly toy. But even these were a far cry from what we have now. They were all homemade with cloth and straw and filled with a number of different types of stuffing.

It was 50 years down the road before the first stuffed animals started being manufactured on a commercial level in Germany. And it was only 20 more years after that when President Roosevelt was honored with the kid’s favorite cuddly companion, the Teddy Bear.

Be sure to give any stuffed animals you may own a big squeeze today and be thankful for their friendship! It’s important to appreciate our plushy pals. Check out these cute guys from our Melissa & Doug selection right here! And, as always, thanks for reading. 


- John

Polished Metal on the Wall…

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Hey, Curious Camp Folks!

It’s something that we all do—probably at least a few times every day! Checking your reflection to make sure you’re looking good and don’t have any boogers or spinach in your teeth is a ritual people have been practicing since before mirrors even existed! People would use ponds, streams, and lakes for reflective purposes as a sort of primitive mirror.

The first mirrors to actually be constructed were first made around 6000 years ago. They were made from stones that had been polished down to a smooth, reflecting surface. This took patience as well as methods of trial and error. If black volcanic glass obsidian was able to be acquired, it provided was much easier to create a reflective surface. The volcanic material was created as it cooled rapidly after volcanic activity.

Nowadays, a major part of a mirror is glass. But glass has more transparent than reflective properties, so it needs to be coated in order to reflect light. Metallic coatings of silver, gold, and chrome would eventually prove themselves to be the best for the job. These mirrors made of metal alloys or precious metals, however, were very valuable items that were only afforded by the rich in ancient times.

Mesopotamian Mirrors
The ancient people in Mesopotamia were one of the first to switch from stone-polishing to metal-polishing to make their mirrors a rough 4000 years ago.

Reflect like an Egyptian
Ancient Egyptians discovered polished copper was a great metal for mirror-making. They became experimental with their mirrors, adding ornate frames to border their round mirrors.

Check yourself in a Chinese Mirror
In China, they took it a step further and made their mirrors from metal alloys—a combination of tin and copper and sometimes bronze too. This was the very beginning of our modern means of making mirrors.

Thanks to all the preceding processes and experimentations of our ancient ancestors, flawless mirrors are a part of every household. So give your reflection some attention today and be thankful that you’re able to check yourself with such crystal clarity in that reflective window. As always, thanks for reading, Camp Fans!


- John

What's Cookin'?

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Hey, Camping Cooks!

Food is an essential part of everyday living and that doesn’t change when you’re camping out in the great outdoors! Like the history of summer camp itself, cookware history calls back to primitive roots that turned domestic. So, before there were pots and pans—much less stovetops or ovens—how did people cook their food? Let’s dive into the past to see how things got started!

Long before anyone ever heard of a place such as the kitchen, cooking was done outside the way it’s done when we’re out on a camping expedition: right over a good ol’ campfire. Boiling water was just as essential of a process back then as it is now. And some extremely resourceful minds realized that turtle shells were a perfect waterproof cooking pot.

Of course, while turtle shells got the job done just fine, turtles weren’t always handy. Stones, on the other hand, are plentiful. Instead, people would carve out from large stones to create big bowls that would become permanent fixtures in the hearths of early homesteads.

Stone worked well for cooking, but it took lots of time and work to fashion bowls out of rock. A much simpler option called pottery was on the rise. Pottery, made from the clay of the earth, was developed to create earthen cookware. Ceramic pots were easy to transport and much easier to fashion than its stone predecessor.

Ceramic cookware still had its drawbacks, though. It was a poor conductor of heat and would crack in too high of temperatures. This led to long cook times over a low degree of heat. Yet, this was the primary means of cooking until the 1600s when metalworking skills were developed and introduced to the kitchen scene of medieval days.

Though extremely heavy, cast-iron is hailed as one of the best materials to cook with (even today). It does not, however, lend itself well to the camp life. More modern developments in cookware have produced much more camp-friendly means of cooking materials.

The Bugaboo Mess Kit from GSI Outdoors, for instance—and available here at Everything Summer Camp—is made of non-stick coated aluminum for a lightweight, efficient means of cooking! Enjoy our modern means of cooking over an open fire and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Footlockers of Forever Ago

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Hey, Footlocker Fans!

Camp trunks go by many names. We call them footlockers, trunks, strongboxes, chests, cases—whatever you prefer! Perfect storage for camp gear, toys, out-of-season clothing, or holiday decorations, footlockers offer a secure means of safekeeping for valuables and keepsakes. They’ve been used for a wide array of purposes throughout their existence.

I wrote about the history of camp trunks a number of years back, but that post focused chiefly on American trunks for the 1600s forward. On today’s post, however, we’re going to peel back the layers of time to see how trunks were used in the Dark Ages.

While we cover our trunks, made of Birch Plywood with steel, trunks of the 16th and 17th centuries were covered in cowhide or the skin of another animal. Before that, the trunks of an earlier period typically wore their varnished or stained wood right on the outside! Trunks were typically finished with brass or iron hardware. And, on rare occasions, trunks would be ornamented with embossed or engraved gold.

The size of a trunk can vary a little or a lot. Treasure chests of an older world could be as big as a Graduate Trunk from Everything Summer Camp or as small as one of our Packing Cubes and they were fairly common for storing and transporting large amounts of riches.

Pirates are known for coming into ownership of these treasure chests by means that were either lucky or criminal and burying them. “X” marks the spot! However, more often than not, pirates never buried their treasure. There’s actually only one pirate who was known for burying his treasure: William Kidd. And his strategy was simply popularized by fictional tales such as ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Trunks sure have changed their material, appearance, size, and use throughout the ages. At Everything Summer Camp, we know trunks are always changing and we’re thrilled to be a part of the change with our innovative Designer Trunk constructions that feature quality prints of illustrations and patterns across the entire trunk! And, though we don’t fill our trunks with treasure, we know they’re built to be treasured for many years to come! Check out all the camp trunks we have available and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John