Friday, November 1, 2013

Early American Summer Days

Eastern States Exposition’s Storrowton Village Museum is truly a gift to Western, Mass. The 19th century reconstructed village is a year round attraction that offers incredible educational opportunities and other exciting events to the community.

Every summer my parents would sign me up for Early American Summer Days – a week-long camp at Storrowton. It was always cool to come to Storrowton during The Big E’s off-season and see a different side of the Fair.

The summer camp was such a fun, unique experience.  We would partake in a number 19th century activities from basket weaving to writing with a quill pen and churning milk into butter or cheese. Campers had the opportunity explore the historic buildings, play games and watch animal demonstrations on the Village Green. 

To fit the part, we would get dressed up in the century’s attire complete with an apron and bonnet for the girls and a straw hat or cap for the boys. Some of the fun was seeing what your outfit would be. Generally we would end up with a mishmash of patterns and colors. I don’t think my costume ever matched.

Once we were dressed, our journey to the past began. An activity I really looked forward to was dipping candles. I guess I’ve always had a fascination with wax. If there is a candle on a table, you bet I’d be playing with it.  

I would have made candles all day if they allowed me.  Each camper, equipped with a wick string, would take turns dipping their wick into the bucket of hot wax. We were highly supervised and received strict instructions not to hold the candle in the wax too long or else it would melt off. After a few rounds, the candle would begin to form.

Playing marbles was another one of my favorite activities. We would form a line and roll our marbles into chalk drawn circle on the ground. Any marbles we knocked out of the circle were ours to keep. My collection became seriously impressive after a few years. I still have it too.

I also loved to grow beans. On the first day of camp we would fill up a plastic cup with dirt and plant a bean. It was fun to watch them sprout over the course of the week. One year I forgot to bring home my bean plant on the last day of camp and was seriously devastated.  

Since the program is only for kids ages 7-12, I always told myself I would volunteer at Storrowton or work as a camp counselor when I was too old to be a camper. Unfortunately, I never got around it out. Even after all these years, Early American Summer Days still stands out in my memory as one of my favorite summer activities.

There are two, week-long sessions of Early American Summer Days offered each year in August. The program takes children on an exciting journey into New England’s bygone days where they will experience challenging and fun hands-on activities, craft and games.

Campers will have the opportunity to milk farm animals, work in the blacksmith’s forge, mill corn into a meal for cooking, churn milk into butter and cheese, make a woven basket, learn dances and songs, write with a quill pen, roll hoops, sack race and play games, dip candles, tell stories and a variety of other 19th century craft projects.

Apart from Early American Summer Days, Storrowton offers many other educational programs. Check them out on the Storrowton tab! Get more info on the summer camp at
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