The Inside Guide to Surviving and Thriving at CKU

So, you’ve decided to go to a CKU! Here’s what you need to know to help you best prepare and get the most out of the experience!


  • CKU website: Use the official CKU website to learn about the event schedule, and plan your classes and other activities.
  • Hotel Reservations: Make hotel reservations for the convention hotel as soon as the dates and location are announced for a CKU you want to attend. You can usually cancel up until a few days before with no penalty and the CKU hotels always sell out quickly. I highly recommend staying in the actual convention hotel if at all possible. The convenience of being able to run to your room on meal breaks to get things or drop them off – or simply to put your feet up – is simply unmatched, and at an event that is already tiring the simple effort of traveling back and forth to an offsite hotel can be draining.  I recommend arriving the evening before registration to allow you to settle in, get familiar with the resort’s layout and so you can arrive rested and early for registration the next morning. I also advise staying over on the Saturday night after Commencement as well. Most CKU attendees are exhausted by Saturday, and staying over will allow you to have time to figure out how to pack up all your new goodies and check out in a much more leisurely manner on Sunday morning, rather than frantically trying to get out of your hotel room on Saturday morning while the event is still in progress. Arriving Wednesday and leaving Sunday gives you the use of your hotel room for the entire days that the CKU is in session, rather than trying to hassle with check in and check out on those days.
  • Hotel Websites: Most convention hotels have their own website. Locate the one for your hotel and use it to gather information on useful room amenities (fridges, internet access, hairdryers and irons, etc), peruse the menus of the hotel’s restaurants and room service, learn about parking options, and learn other helpful information.
  • CKU Yahoo Groups: There is usually a Yahoo group started by attendees of each CKU. There you can find information on swaps, locate roommates, and meet online other scrappers who will be attending the same CKU.


  • First: Begin to register IMMEDIATELY, within seconds, of online registration opening, if you want to guarantee getting in and getting the classes you want. CKU’s are usually sold out within minutes.
  • Second: If you don’t get your first choice of classes in the initial registration, check back frequently on the registration site as people change their schedules and things may become available, especially on the last day of online changes being allowed. Entire classes may even be added to the schedule, so don’t give up!


  • Empty Luggage: Even if you don’t do any shopping or win anything, class packets and crop goodie bags alone will leave you with an awful lot of new scrapbook things to take home with you, so make sure you have some way to take it home!
  • Comfy Shoes: You will be busy and tired by the end of the three days. Comfort in your footgear is the name of the game!
  • Warm Clothes: Convention centers are notoriously cold places because they usually have high ceilings and cranked-up air conditioning. Even in Florida in July, many people were walking around in long sleeves inside the building. Long-sleeved CK shirts were selling like hotcakes from the CKU booth and getting WORN. Layers are a good option for adjusting to the temperature – a long sleeve button-down shirt to be worn as a blazer over a t-shirt, for instance.
  • Red & Black Clothes: Friday at CKU is the day to wear your school colors (red & black), so make sure you have something packed to fit the theme!
  • Totes: Make sure that whatever you plan on carrying to your classes and other events is small, lightweight and comfortable to carry. There will likely be very little room for your tote in classrooms (rolling totes are not allowed in classrooms) and you will be getting a workout lugging around even the smallest bag for three whole days. Minimize what you think you need to carry to cut down on the weight.
  • Lanyard: Since you will be wearing your credentials for three full days as well, make sure you have a comfortable lanyard (instead of the string they come with) to carry them in, either by bringing one along or by buying one right away for $6 in the CKU store.
  • Cameras: Convention centers have in my experience horrendous lighting. Either bring a high-quality digital camera that can handle dark lighting conditions, or bring a film camera with at least 400 speed film and lots of batteries for your flash. That’s what I shot at CKU-Orlando and it worked very well for me in conditions that my digital was so dark you could barely make out the subject of the photo. And make sure you understand well enough how to use your camera to be able to quickly pass it off to other people and explain how to use it to snap pictures of you in the middle of chaos with CKU celebrities, etc. And if you are shooting film, bring lots of it (I went through more than four rolls, plus about another roll of digital shots), or have plenty of memory card space if you are digital.
  • Snacks/Drinks/Food: Especially if you are driving and can do so easily, bring drinks and other foods like snacks, cereals and sandwich makings with you (check if you have a fridge in your room) to make it more convenient and less expensive to grab a quick snack or light meal in your room during the busy days of the event.
  • Permanent Markers: Bring a permanent marker or two to write your name on the tote and other items that you are given at CKU that all look alike. Also, they are good for getting autographs.
  • Books: If you have books by celebrities that are going to be appearing at CKU and want them autographed, don’t forget to take them with you!
  • Baby Wipes: Yes, I know many CKU attendees are moms on vacation, but bring the baby wipes with you even if you are leaving the baby at home! Inking is very popular in classes. We did it in about half my classes at CKU-Orlando, and yet in only one of those classes were we given wipes to clean up with. Bring your own travel pack so you don’t have to walk around quite so covered in ink!
  • Sponsor Supplies: If you plan on entering the Sponsor Appreciation Contest, bring with you some supplies by some of the CKU sponsors so you will have lots to work with creating a contest entry!


  • Floss Rings: Use small baggies on a floss ring to contain small swap items like fiber and ribbon. Then just pull the bag right off the ring to swap it.
  • Name Labels: Make sure you label the backs of swap tags with your name, city and state, and the CKU you are attending. This can also be done with other swap items if you wish.


  • Sponsor Appreciation Contest: If you plan on entering, sign up as soon as the information booth opens the first day for your first pick of sponsor to create your entry for.
  • CKU Store: Buy anything you see at the sales booth that you KNOW you want immediately because they will sell out of a lot of things, some in the first few hours.
  • Make-N-Takes: Get to the registration line early to be among the first in the door for the make-n-takes. Once in, prioritize which ones you would most like to do since it’s not possible to do them all in the time allotted.
  • Autographed Class Tickets: If you plan on scrapping them, get your class tickets autographed by the instructors. They make a great souvenir!
  • Lighten the Load: Carry as light a tote as possible, even if it means extra trips to the hotel room at lunch and dinner to drop things off and pick up what you need for the next round of classes. It will really help your energy level and make it easier in crowded classrooms. Just throw your basic necessities in your tote and go!
  • Stay Rested: Make sure that you are getting enough rest and pacing yourself or by your final class on Saturday you won’t be able to cut a straight line even with a trimmer!

I hope the above tips help those of you who haven’t been yet to get more out of your first CKU experience when it happens…I learned a lot from my trip and can’t wait to go again! It is an amazing experience that I wish every scrapper could have.

No comments yet.

Let us know your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.