Youngsters enjoy colonial history camp

Published 9:15 pm Monday, July 16, 2012

Nick Edwards paints a birdhouse gourd during the Past Times children’s day camp hosted last week by the Historic Bath State Historic Site. (WDN Photo/Kevin Scott Cutler)


BATH — More than a dozen local youngsters enjoyed a hands-on lesson about colonial history during a Past Times day camp hosted last week by the Historic Bath State Historic Site.

A Child’s Life, presented Thursday and Friday, took a unique look at how working-class children and their upper-class peers lived, played and worked. The camp was directed by Bea Latham, historic interpreter with Historic Bath, with assistance from volunteers Amanda Smith and Carol Persche. Also taking part were Historic Bath staff members Wayne Randall, Elizabeth Midyette and Robin Suggs. The camp was open to children ages 5 to 10 years old.

“Past Times has been done here for more than 15 years, Latham said. “It’s not only a teaching experience, it’s a fun way to learn through activities, and it may supplement things learned in the school year.”

While experiencing the working-class childhood, camp participants took turns at crosscut sawing, cleaned luffa gourds, turned their gourds into birdhouses and made butter, which they later enjoyed with their lunch. They also competed in water-bucket races, learned nursing rhymes describing the life of the working class and were read a storybook relative to the day›s theme.

The youngsters discovered that life as an upper-class child was decidedly different. No manual labor for them. Instead, they learned about reading and writing in the colonial period and made their own hornbook. They also crafted dress-up wigs and hats to wear to their “tea” luncheon.

“Past Times deals with an event or time period in the past, and we try to relate to something the kids do today,” Latham said. “It gives them a vision of life in different times.”

So that the children may continue their studies and adventures at home, Latham compiled a book about Past Times activities.

“Hopefully, their parents will take the time to do other activities with them at home and reinforce what we learned here,” she said.

Leigh Swain, Historic Bath site manager, praised Latham for her efforts toward providing an entertaining, yet educational, opportunity for local children.

“This program is not something that is thrown together,” Swain said. “Bea has been working for months choosing a theme and components of the lesson, the activities, the crafts. She puts together a really sound, educational but fun program.”