Thursday, May 30, 2013

Getting Smudged

Back in September 2008 I was homeschooling Ashley. This story pre-dates this blog. She was interested in Native Americans so we took her to two places -- Churchvillle Nature Center in Pennsylvania and Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts. 

I'll admit going into it, my expectations were much higher for Plimouth Plantation. After all they are a huge place with lots of staff and glossy marketing materials. Churchville Nature Center seemed to me the type of place you would pop into once and say "been there, done that, no reason to return." 

I could not have been more wrong.

Yes, Plimouth Plantation was nice, but we caught the place on a bad day, and let's leave it at that. 

Churchville Nature Center exceeded all of our expectations -- even the high ones we had for Plimouth Plantation. Our guide, Miss Patti, gave us the tour through all five stations (birthing hut, garden, games, hunting, and cooking) and answered our questions. We told her we were homeschooling our 1st grader. She said normally when she gives school tours they give the kids an arrowhead necklace and invite them to come back with their parents. Since we were already there, she invited us back, and gave Ashley an arrowhead necklace. 

We went back. Again and again and again. 

Since that time Ashley is now in her third Lenape outfit. She has been helping Miss Patti give tours, has helped Che teach summer camp, and spent a night in a Wickawam with Don during a survival weekend (again, pre-blog days). Last weekend she became an EIT -- Educator In Training. She is only 11. She is not allowed to lead school groups until she is 18 (which is a good thing, because the cannot take a day off from school in order that someone else can have a school field trip). Last weekend she was smudged during the ritual ceremony to kick off the summer gardening season (the weather this year has been so crazy, it took until now to start the garden). She and Don spend most Sundays between April and October at the Lenape Village, unless we are out of town or something else takes priority.

Ashley was recently granted her own station. If you take one of their Sunday afternoon tours you are very likely to have Ashley teach you about hunting. Last summer she created "scat" that is so realistic people refuse to touch it and naturalists have asked where did they purchase it. She is now in the process of creating foot prints. The idea will be guests will be asked to match the scat with the footprint with the animal skins (which sadly do not no have paws attached to them) to guess the animal. The presentation is a work in progress.

Once Ashley reads this and corrects me I'm sure there will be some changes. For now this is how I remember it all happening and that is the story I am sticking with.

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