Kids take part in FSNHS camp

Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Youngsters in the Fort Scott National Historic Site's Trailblazer Workshop receive help from seasonal worker Gary Herrmann (left) and FSNHS Park Ranger Galen Ewing to load a Mountain Howitzer and prepare it for firing during a demonstration Monday morning at the site. (Jason E. Silvers/Tribune)

Prior to the start of another school year, a group of youngsters is receiving some hands-on learning this week at the Fort Scott National Historic Site.

Twelve kids from 9-12 years of age are participating through Friday in the site's 12th annual Trailblazer Workshop, a day camp that exposes young people to the mission of the National Park Service in caring for the nation's crown jewels, and teaches them about the history of the fort. The camp, which began Monday, takes place from 8:30 a.m. to noon each day.

Gary Herrmann, a seasonal worker at the site who has been involved with the camp the past two years, is in charge of the camp this year. He is being assisted by Brian Mayhew, a park ranger and teacher from North Carolina who is helping at the site for eight weeks this summer. Other rangers are also lending a hand.

"We'll be looking at living history and the different ways people interpret history," Mayhew said.

Some topics that will be covered this week are archaeology, flowers and plants growing on the tallgrass prairie, and the jobs of rangers who work at the site, Mayhew said.

The youth and their instructors braved the heat Monday morning to learn about the laundering process, how to march and properly raise the U.S. flag, how to load and fire a Mountain Howitzer, and participate in other learning activities.

Steven Najera, 12, who is visiting Fort Scott from Eudora, signed up for the Trailblazer camp for the first time this year.

"I'm participating to meet people and learn more about culture and how people lived in the old days," he said.

Isabella Provence, 11, of Fort Scott, said she is participating in the camp "to learn more about the Civil War" and Fort Scott's history.

Provence said she is most looking forward to watching a movie about the Civil War, while Najera said he is excited about "going to the prairie and finding things."

Throughout the week, participants will experience a mock archaeological dig, activities in the prairie that will introduce kids to natural resources, and cultural features on the site grounds. They will also gain knowledge of methods used to preserve buildings and artifacts at the fort.

Youngsters will also learn about living history and interpretation and can take part in activities that relate to global climate change, energy conservation, and keeping the planet clean.

"We'll have a different 'green' activity each day," Mayhew said.

During their time with Trailblazers, participants work on a play or skit that is presented to their families at the end of the week.