As at other parks, Tom and I have been working with school groups here at English Camp. We were a little surprised at the number of school groups scheduled in June. Usually field trips are over by Memorial Day. But it was a particularly harsh winter in this part of the world, which meant the school year was extended through most of June.
Tom and I, of course, love school groups and the groups here at English Camp have been no exception. One of the things that is unusual is the way the groups get to us: on the ferry! Their buses take them to the ferry in Anacortes and drop them off. Then they are picked up by the San Juan County School District buses when the ferry gets to Friday Harbor. The groups that have visited this month are from Anacortes, Sedro-Wooly, Lake Chelan, Port Townsend, and San Juan County.
We do living history with the kids, just as we did at Fort Frederica and Kings Mountain. I played 1860’s games with the Fourth Graders and did a “sheep to shawl” demonstration about spinning. Tom does the soldier drill with them, teaching them how to be good British Marines. The spinning demonstration was a day when it poured rain outside and we had half of the stations inside. The kids didn’t seem to mind the rain – they all had rain gear and just shrugged it off.
We also had demonstrations on blacksmithing, doing the laundry, woodworking, and putting up a Sibley Tent. The kids enjoy anything when they get to actively participate. They were especially fascinated by the fire at the blacksmith’s forge. The women demonstrating the laundry were surprised at how eager the kids were to scrub dirty socks. Most of the students agreed they wouldn’t want to do laundry that way all the time.
Working with school groups is one of the things I enjoy most about volunteering in the National Parks. All of us do our best to make history come alive and create an experience that the children will enjoy and remember.