The Castle immerses kids in history

MARIETTA – Children got the chance to dive into Marietta history as The Castle kicked off its annual history camp, a week packed with crafts, history lessons and games.

This summer, a group of 10 third-through-fifth graders from the Washington County area are enjoying days on the historic grounds of The Castle to learn more about the city’s pioneer roots.

This year the theme is A Week in Old-Time Marietta, and educators at the museum hope to bring Marietta’s history alive with hands-on activities.

“We do this to really immerse the kids in Marietta’s history, but also just history in general,” said Misty Spillman, The Castle’s education director. “We want to be able to connect them to the past through hands-on activities that are fun, too.”

Each day of the five-day camp, which is for children who will be entering grades three through five in the fall, has its own theme, including Farm Day, Civil War Day, Town Day, Pioneer Day and Fair Day.

Spillman is running the camp for the first time on her own this year, but the camp has existed for several years.

“We design different crafts and activities to match each criteria, and learn everything from how women and soldiers dressed during the Civil War to tea etiquette and manners,” she said.

Jane Jones, an educator at The Castle, spent the afternoon teaching campers to make corn husk dolls.

“It goes back to American history when kids would have used these as toys,” she said. “They had a lot of uses for corn, including these, hats and even shoes.”

Tori Lewis, 11, of Marietta is participating in camp for the third year in a row.

“These (dolls) are really cool, but I also got to make a name tag out of leather that’s shaped like an arrowhead,” she said. “And when I’m older, I’m going to try and be a camp counselor here, too.”

Once children age out of history camp they are allowed to apply to be counselors once they are in the middle school age range. Counselors lead younger campers in pottery, candle-making and other activities.

“I’m making a volcano out of clay this year, and it’s been my favorite thing so far,” said Corbin Nichols, 8, of Marietta. “This is the first time I have been to camp, and it’s cool they let us make things like this.”

Though the camp allows children to express themselves outside of the box of traditional pioneer staples, the focus is to create items that would have been used or are significant to the time period, like an activity that allows campers to make their own candles.

“When you were a pioneer you had to make candles for light, and they would make a few hundred of them at a time,” said educator Marcia Petty. “It can take about 40 minutes to make one, and you can make as many as you can until your arms get too tired.”

One part of camp participants seemed to take to was getting to handle and shape leather.

“I really like nature, so I’ve been making this name tag with leaves and flowers,” said Aubrey Schenz, 9, of Belpre. “We get to help stamp the leather ourselves, and this has been my favorite so far.”

Camp at The Castle runs through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Jones said the only difference this year is attendance.

“We had a smaller turnout this year because of it being just after the Fourth, and everyone is on vacation, but it’s still great weather for it,” she said Monday.