Ursula Kremer, Media Production Intern
* The views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not of the Barker Mansion*
We are in the midst of a very busy week at the Barker Mansion– this week is Kids’ History Camp! For four days, campers will come to the Mansion and become immersed in the history and stories of the Barker family and this area. We have a full schedule planned out, but as this is my first history camp aimed at a young audience, I am a bit nervous. It was very interesting to me to see how the staff here at the Mansion, myself included, worked to bring the past to life in a tangible, multi-faceted, and intriguing way.
Certainly, the primary scheduled activities are a fun way for the kids to interact with history. Including a behind-the-scenes tour and encounters with the archives and artifacts, kids will experience the less public, but more academic and, frankly, exciting part of history– the research and details of history and preservation! The kids will be able to literally touch some remaining artifacts from a long-ago era. Hands-on learning certainly goes a long way in every setting– especially museums.
Other, more subtle ways that we have been able to bring history to the present is through living aspects of their lives. For example, after my research into the foods regularly eaten by the Barker family and people in the Gilded Age, I found that they were fond of aspic and placing food in gelatinous molds. Thus, in a modernized, possibly more palatable fashion, we will be eating jello cups for one of our snacks. Additionally, we will be playing garden games and seeing toys of Catherine’s that were popular in her childhood. In little activities like these, campers will be able to experience history, allowing learning to happen with all five senses.
This year’s theme for Kids’ Camp is “Discovering History through Storytelling.” As an English major who has taken multiple classes in ancient texts and mythologies and an interest in the evolution of humankind’s stories, I am super excited about this. Human beings have been storytellers since the dawn of their time. As storytelling itself has a long history, its prevalence and impact cannot be overstated. It allows us to reconnect with and tell the story of those before us, making it then our story too. One of the wonderful things about the discipline of history is that it works to tell stories with a great variety of tools. Rooms, buildings, physical objects, people, and documents can all tell their own story. It is historians’ job to bring those stories to light. I am thrilled to be able to bring the campers along on this journey, teaching the kids the stories themselves as well as how to find and tell the stories.
I look forward to the rest of this week and all of the stories that we will be telling!
Be sure to tune in to our podcast on Friday and check out past blog posts from our Heritage Interpreters here at the Barker Mansion. You can also find us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and our website.
Ursula Kremer 7.23.19