May 30, 2011 - Crafts, Printables, YW Camp    25 Comments

Paper Bag Journals

Paper bag journals are a fun inexpensive craft perfect for trips, camps, or fun summer memories.  My family made these at our summer family reunion in Laguna last year (filled with beachy words, photos from the Hollywood sign, and souvenirs from “Pink’s”) and the kids from 6 to 15 loved making them.  For YW camp last year they were a hit as well.

At a regional camp meeting last year I saw a great journal craft.  I took their idea and put my own twist on it.  It is an inexpensive project and with a lot of prep work, goes very smooth in the woods.

YW Camp Scrapbook

Supplies (per journal):

    • 3 lunch bags, folded and pre punched with 5 holes
    • 22″ twine, taped on one end for easy threading
    • scrapbook paper pre-cut to fit pages of the journal (16 total, 3 sizes)
    • velum labels (printable below)
    • testimony card for insert (printable below)
    • 1 mini zip lock bag 2″X3 1/2″ for nature souvenirs insert
    • 1 small envelope for letters insert
    • pictures of Christ torn out from church magazines
    • ribbons and embellishments
    • glue stick
    • scissors
    • stapler


Before I bought any supplies, I dug through our closet and used anything we already had.  We didn’t need to buy any scrapbook paper, I just cut up what we had and made the most of it.   I used leftover ribbon scraps from other projects.  The twine was very inexpensive from Home Depot and we used it for other projects as well.


Construction:  To make a journal, fold three paper bags in half with some folded each way.  Take one with the clean sides out and use that as a cover with the other two nested inside.  Punch 5 holes down the folded side (this is difficult unless you have a really nice hole punch).  Lace the taped end of the twine from the top to the bottom and back up again as shown below (note: if you want a “binding” look, cut a piece of paper and match up the hole punches, glue it down and THEN lace).

Camp Scrapbook

Inserts:  Since there are three paper bag openings in one journal, I made three separate inserts for the girls to use (of course they could make up any other ones they wanted to add to them as well).


I had a “Testimony” card with a sheet they could write down their testimony (an activity we did in the woods) with a temple cards (we had on hand) on the back side.  They could attach a piece of ribbon as a tag to pull it out.


I also found mini zip-lock style bags at the craft store (I think $1 for 25?).  They could gather small pieces of nature from a hike or campsite to keep in there.


An envelope with a ribbon tag is a space for letters from home to be stored or letters from secret sisters.

Camp Scrapbook

Embellish!  This is where the girls creativity comes out.  I printed off labels for the different activities I knew we would be doing to help guide them as to what to put on the pages (printable found below).

Photos: You might notice this book has pictures in it…that turned out to be a fun surprise.  We made the journals on the second day.  I took tons of photos for the first two days of camp.  I had to go home for a day to my babies and then came back up for the last night.  While I was home, I printed the photos off and cut them with a paper cutter.  We passed around the photos in a zip-lock back and each girl was able to choose 6 to glue in to their journals.  When they got home, they already had something to show their mom’s and dad’s from their camp.  After we got back from camp we had another activity where the girls brought more photos from their cameras and other leaders photos that they could add to their journals.

Camp Scrapbook

Click HERE for Testimony insert PDF

I found subtle parchment style scrapbook paper in our closet that I printed this on.

Click HERE for page labels PDF in Red and Orange

Click HERE for page labels PDF in Green and Fuchsia

Click HERE for page labels PDF in Brown and Blue

There are 6 different colors of labels, each journal need half a page.  Our YW traded so they each had different colored labels on each page.  I found velum in our closet and these turned out cute printed on it but would look good on any paper.

Young Women Camp Pill Labels


  • I love your creativity! You are amazing!!

  • thank you so much for making our activities with our young women easier and fun for especially the leaders…..mahalo, Sister Lynette Valdez/Ainaola Ward-Hilo, Hawaii

    • Your welcome Lynette! Thanks for posting where you live, I love knowing that all the work I put into our program gets used around the world. Mahalo, Amanda.

  • This is so cute! I can’t wait to share this with the other leaders. Thank You! The girls will love it!

  • I made a coupon book with this idea! It was so cute, I decided to make an Easter coloring booklet for my nursery kids. Thank you for this idea!

  • Hi!

    We love these journals and are using the same idea at our girls camp. I need to tweek some of the labels and customize them for some of our activities I am wondering what font you used? Everybody loves it. :)

    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

    • Kim, I don’t have the file anymore! I know the font was “Pharmacy”. Good luck and have fun at camp!

  • Thanks for the idea. I had my summer book club make these today (9 year old girls) as reading journals. They turned out really cute and the girls are excited to use them to journal all of the books we read this summer.

  • I can’t get the pdf file to print any ideas? It will let me save and that’s it. I’ve unplugged and replugged the printer and all is well on that end. Thanks.

  • I love these! We are having our YW make gifts for family members and a variation of these is just the thing!

  • I love journals and i love to travel, this is a great way to make an easy journal! Can’t wait to make one, thanks so much

  • Love it! Is there anyway to get an updated copy that says 2013? I’d love to have these for our girls to make this year. Thank you for sharing!!

  • How can I change the date to 2013? We love this idea!

  • Wow, I love this project! I featured it (with a link back) on my site.

  • […] then on to Paper Bag Journals (Idea from Burlap & Denim […]

  • […] We first made these gratitude journals so they could spend some time in the next few weeks thinking about what they’re grateful for and recording it. They’re made out of 3 paper bags laced together with twine. You don’t have to cut the bags or anything and then you use the openings of the bags like pockets. This could work for things like camp or a trip too b/c you could use those pockets for tickets or handouts, etc. We slid pieces of paper in them with ribbons attached like a tab so they could list out the things they are grateful for. Then on the paper bag parts they can draw and print quotes or scriptures about gratitude on them. It was fun and everyone went home with a really cute journal. (Here is the link to the instructions I used in making the journals:HERE ) […]

  • […] Make your own journals out of paper lunch bags. The coolest part? The bag allows you to have inserts that pull out. See the end result with DIY instructions at Burlap and Denim. […]

  • […] flags || paperbag yw camp journal || spiritual light […]

  • I like this post,And I figure that they having a great time to peruse this post,they might take a decent site to make an information,thanks for sharing it to me.

  • Mahalo for sharing these ideas! I’m really excited to start preparing for camp. The ideas are easy to follow and custom fit to our area. So glad I found it. Tehani Kama, Kihei, Maui

  • […] Paper Bag Journals from Burlap and Denim […]

  • looking good

  • nice post

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