Kids learn about pioneers at Settlers Camp

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What was early pioneer life like when the Tillsons started our community?

Children ages 5-9 will find out this summer at Annandale National Historic Site's 2015 'Settlers' Summer Day Camp, a series of weekly camps offered Tuesday and/or Thursday each week from July 7 until August 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"It's the same program both days, so kids usually come once a week," said Katelyn McGirr from Annandale National Historic Site. "Some kids like it so much they come both days. We had that last year."

"Our theme this year is settlers, so kids will learn all about pioneers in Canada," said Oshaen-Lynn Swartz, ANHS youth program coordinator. "And we're going be exploring all different areas of pioneer life."

"The first week is Life Before Bisquick (invented in 1930). We'll be learning all about the foods the pioneers ate. We'll be doing a lot of fun things like making biscuits and homemade butter with thick whipping cream. The kids will get to shake it, similar to how pioneers did it."

Swartz is looking forward to Week 6, Sheep to Shirt.

"We hope to have a live sheep here. We'll be making toilet paper sheep, which will be fun. And I have a really fun sensory activity planned. We're going to paint sheep, we will put shaving cream on it – like wool – and get the kids to shear the sheep. Which will be messy," she laughed, "but kids will love it."

"I think that's what I am really excited about," said McGirr. "Last year we did crafts and stuff, but this year we're going to try different things, like taffy pulling. Last year we thought 'no, it's messy, let's not,' but this year... 'let's do it!'"

"Kids love getting messy," said Swartz, noting they'll be spending a lot of time outside. "When I was a kid, that's what I loved doing. Having fun and getting to experiment. And of course we're going to be playing games."

Swartz said she is most looking forward to Week 5, Making Friends.

"We're going to be looking at pioneer relationships with native peoples, and how big a role they had here with things like planting, gathering and trade."

"We're really excited about this," said McGirr.

"It's important to know about the history of your town," said Swartz. "We'll try to keep it as local as we can."

The cost is $20 per child, per day. There is a 10 per cent discount for each sibling. Advanced registration and payment is required. Two snacks will be provided each week.

"We like to have a name tag ready for them, and have the supplies ready," said McGirr, "so we need a couple days in advance."

Registration forms can be picked up at the museum (30 Tillson Ave.), 9-4 Monday to Friday, Saturday 12-4, and Sunday 1-4 (519-842-2294). You can register children for one week, two... or the entire summer series.

"Last year we had one boy who had never done camp before. His mom wanted him to try it out. After the first day she signed him up for the rest of the summer. He made a lot of new friends."

Week 1 (July 9)

What did they eat? Or 'Life Before Bisquick.' Who doesn't love homemade food? Learn how cooking was different for settlers in Canada as we try out some early pioneer recipes.

Week 2 (July 14 or 16)

What were their 'Favourite Pioneer Toys'? How much fun can you have with some rope and a stick? You'll be surprised! Discover how exciting pioneer toys and our imaginations can really be.

"We'll be making a hobby horse or craft," said Swartz. "We'll be playing with makeshift toys like the hoop and stick."

Week 3 (July 21 or 23)

'House and Home.' How did they make their homes? Have you ever built a house from scratch? You'll be amazed how settlers built houses from the land, how they made them into homes, and what their communities were like.

Week 4 (July 28 or 30)

'Celebrate Good Times.' Do you wish it was Christmas already? Hard lives made settlers feel the same way. Let's celebrate together – the old fashioned way.

Week 5 (August 5 or 6)

'Making Friends.' Living in Canada was hard for many pioneers. Understand why Native peoples were important friends and resources for settlers through craft making.

Week 6 (August 11 or 13)

'Sheep to Shirt.' Sheep are adorable! And useful. Learn all about making clothing and how settlers kept so warm... with a special guest.

Week 7 (August 18 or 20)

'Parlour Games.' No work, all play! Just like we love playing games, so did pioneers in the past. But what kinds of games did they play?

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