This last weekend was the 2017 Encampment at English Camp at San Juan Island National Historical Park. This is the big event for the year at the park and is always held the last weekend in July.
About 40 living history volunteers come in for the event. Many of them have been coming for a long time: Miss Libby, the schoolteacher, has been here 21 years. Although we are a military camp, most of the living historians portray settlers instead of soldiers. They come from Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, and lots of smaller places in between. Some of them are living history volunteers at parks closer to their homes, but Encampment gives them a chance to hang out for a weekend with others.
Most of the living history people came in and set up on Thursday. The Encampment started Friday morning with the firing of a howitzer cannon. Tom is part of the cannon crew so he had to be present every day at 10 and 4 as the British flag was raised and lowered. The cannon firing was especially impressive because it echoed out over Garrison Bay and back. I posted a video of it on Facebook that you can see here.
We had a blacksmith, a schoolteacher, a cook (who cooked all the meals for all the participants all weekend (Yeah Brad!), and a Lieutenant Colonel “visiting from Nova Scotia.” The living history people demonstrated spinning, weaving, lace-making, knitting, games, and rope-making. Of course, our visitors loved it and spent a lot of time talking to everyone. Children always enjoy the hands-on activities the most. Musicians included a fifer, a drummer, and a bag-piper. Several men were dressed as American soldiers and we had a few British Marines.
Several special classes gave our visitors new information. There was a cooking class – the participants churned butter – an etiquette class, a schoolroom learning experience, and a croquet field set up. Children also participated as living historians by playing period games such as Graces and Tag. On Saturday afternoon the men had a “spirited” Cricket game.
Some of the living history people are staying through the week because they have another event in British Columbia this next weekend. Easier to move from here than to go home in between.
It was a fun weekend with plenty of people to talk to and lots of things to do. We didn’t have as many visitors as we would have liked but that meant we could spend more time with the people who came. We enjoyed spending the time with people who enjoy history – and teaching it to others – as much as we do.