YOUNG PIONEERS: Campers learn about history during hands-on activities

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

Reading about the life of a young pioneer is one thing. Living the life of a young pioneer is whole different experience.

The youngsters who participated in the Bonnets & Buckles Pioneer Camp at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama on Thursday came away from the experience with a much better understanding of what it was like to be child pioneer and a much better appreciation for “air conditioning!!!”

The hands-on history, one-day camp was a unique opportunity for kids to sweat a little and learn a lot.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Kelly Ormond, camp director, the kids got into the spirit of Bonnets & Buckles right away as they selected their costumes for the day.

“The girls put on their bonnets and the boys chose cowboy hats and we were off and ready,” she said.

The campers enjoyed doing the chores of the pioneer children, from fetching water from the creek and feeding the chickens to sweeping the yards and scrubbing clothes on the washboard.

“They were enthusiastic about everything,” Ormond said. “They spent time in the log cabin learning about cooking on a wood stove and churning butter. After the butter was churned, the ‘pioneer’ children got to eat their homemade butter on homemade biscuits and they loved it.”

In fact, most of the pioneer wannabes asked for seconds on buttered biscuits.

“Then, we walked across the covered bridge to the church where Rev. Ed Shirley told the children about circuit riders and how they brought the message of the gospel to people who lived in very rural areas,” Ormond said.

Then it was time to go to school.

The one-room schoolhouse was very different from the schools the children attend. They learned pioneer children had only one teacher for all grades. They wrote on chalkboards with chalk and even tried their hands at writing with a quill pen and ink. At recess, the children went outside and played games with hoops and sticks.

“After lunch, they learned about picking cotton and how the seeds had to be removed so the cotton could be spun into thread and then woven into cloth,” Ormond said. “They visited with the Pioneer Quilters and got to make a pot holder to take home.”

Then in was off to catch a pretend ride on the museum’s steam-driven train. However, there was nothing pretend about the ringing of the train’s bell. It rang loud and long.

As Bonnets & Buckles began to come to a close, the young Pike pioneers learned about the quiet-time toys that pioneer children enjoyed – toys like a ball and cup, spinning tops and whirly-gigs. They each made a whirly-gig from a string and button to take home for their quiet-time play. But most of all, they took home the memories of a day when they stepped back in time and into the shoes of pioneer boys and girls.

“They were tired at the end of the day but they were still enthusiastic about what they had done and learned,” Ormond said. “They were anxious to go home and tell all about Bonnets and Buckles.  I could not have had a better group of kids. Our volunteers and our staff did an outstanding job throughout the day. I can hardly wait to for next summer’s Bonnets & Buckles.”