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Colonial Kids Camp challenges participants to slow down, learn

July 09, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

SHARPSBURG

A "traveling trunk" of reproduction artifacts linked to the Eastern Woodland Indians one day could find a place in secondary school classrooms across Maryland.

At least that is the hope of Katherine Dinnel, an education and archaeology specialist with the Maryland Historical Trust.

A trunk - actually a large, sturdy plastic container - filled with arrowheads, stone tools, wood baskets, pottery and furs, was shown to about 60 youngsters Saturday by Dinnel, who took part in the third Colonial Kids Camp at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

"We're trying to make it so they can touch it and feel" the replica artifacts, which are complemented with a lesson plan for teachers to use for about three weeks.

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Based at the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St. Leonard, Md., Dinnel's presentation was her first "on the road."

"Kids today are getting away from things made from the environment," Dinnel said.

Most of the items Dinnel unpacked from the trunk to present to the campers Saturday as part of the annual Sharpes Burgh Founders Day celebration have been replaced with plastic or metal, she said.

Supported by foundation grant money, Dinnel said three trunks of replica materials about the extinct Native American culture were produced last year. One already is being used by the Queen Anne's County school system.

Camp organizer Jennifer Silbert believes the remaining trunks could be a "great resource" for Washington County's school system.

Dinnel's presentation Saturday was one of several at the camp that depicted aspects of Native American life and colonial culture.

Children were shown how to turn bones and stones into tools and weapons, primitive pottery making, archaeological field study techniques and colonial-era health-care methods.

Campers were treated to Native American music and dance demonstrations by the Potamac Dancers, Venture Crew No. 2, a Boy Scouts-affiliated group.

Peter W. Bernier, father of a 10-year-old daughter and 12-year-old boy, was impressed with the event.

"They absolutely love it," Bernier said as his children all but ignored the ceremonial "Smoke and Stomp" dance demonstrations to continue chiseling flint with sharpened wood sticks.

"We live in such a fast-paced society. I personally think (the camp) connects them to the past. It allows them to slow down and learn," said Bernier, who returned to Hagerstown with his family from the Los Angeles area two years ago.

"They could stay here all day," he said.

Donning a tricorn hat and matching colonial-period clothing for a colonial physician, Adrien Tudor held the attention of youngsters when explaining how cows' horns once were used for teething babies, then fashioned into combs, spoons, dice and cups, among other common everyday items.

"Today, we don't look at the simple things," Tudor said.

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