Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Upper Canada Village Time Travelers Camp

Last summer while visiting Chris near Montreal we talked about going to Upper Canada Village. Had it not been pouring that day, it would have been the perfect outing with our history-loving daughter. Looking at the website I learned they offered week-long sleep away camps. It seemed like a perfect match for Ashley, but the timing was off with other activities we already had planned that summer.

Fast forward to summer of 2013. This year they also offered Try-A-Camp (the information should be there in Spring for next year) for the Time Travelers Program. Basically the usual week-long camp condensed into 42 hours for those unsure if they want to commit to a full week. The application process included an essay and a letter of recommendation. In May we were pleased to find out she was accepted. Unfortunately her acceptance letter never made it from Canada to New Jersey. And by never I mean we are still waiting for it.

Last weekend was her weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect! Mid-70s
during the day getting a little cooler at night. While Ashley played the role of a Canadian 1860s girl, we spent time with friends. Don went on a bike ride with his friend Chris, and I hung out with my Ohio friend from Belgium who lives in Montreal, Marlene.

I asked Ashley to write her thoughts down about the weekend. Keep in mind my American friends that in the 1860s America was battling the Civil War while Canada was in their pioneer stage.

The thoughts her hers. As per our agreement, I turned them into complete sentences. It was either that, or she wouldn't type anything for me.

There were 9 girls and 3 boys in the program that weekend. Ashley bunked with two girls from New York. At 11 and 2 1/2 months, she was the oldest. The next oldest will be 11 next month.

We drove 9 hours to get to Upper Canada Village. It was supposed to be a 6 1/2 hour drive, but we made a long lunch stop and a couple of other quicker stops (including getting gas in New York rather than in Canada). Amazingly we found the right place at 4:10 -- only 10 minutes after the official drop off time. As we had wandered around the place for 15 minutes, I thought we were doing pretty good.

After getting settled in her room (which even though they were living the 1860s life, did have a/c, running water, refrigeration and other 21st century amenities), she joined the other kids playing getting-to-know-you type of games. Also during the weekend, they played "Hide the Hankie," "I love my love with a __ ," Freeze tag (where she scraped up her knee and elbow), "Blind man’s bluff," sack races, "I’m going on a picnic," and Sardines (which was tough with most of them wearing red camp shirts).

"Our group’s name was Perfect Pigs. We had dinner and dish duty on first and last days. We milked the cow" (after getting some milk out of it, Ashley was one of two kids told she has pretty strong hands, must be all that fire making she does at the Lenape Village).

During they day the kids wore 1860s outfits. The girls wore dresses made out of cotton with buttons and a distinct, fitted waist. They wore a petticoat under the dress and also a hat whenever they were outside. Each morning they were assigned an activity with another child. On Saturday she sewed beads in the shape of dragonfly onto a case for her sewing needles. On Sunday her chore was to make Hob Nail Biscuits (cookies with brown sugar and currents, baked over an open flame).

In the late morning they had group activities. On Saturday they attended school. They had to sing “God Save the Queen,” (which, of course, everyone knows, but the American kids). They wrote a saying for the day, had a “health check” (for lice, to make sure our hair was neat, and that our hands were clean; "I was glad she didn’t check our knees or our elbows (since she had scraped them playing freeze tag), but that would have been improper for her to see). We read about a foreign creature called a tiger, drew a picture of the tiger using only the description in the text book, and had a spelling bee. I came in 2nd place." Ashley said the words were very hard, and she did not recognize most of them, but was given a list to study in advance of the bee. 

On Sunday the group activity was Sunday School, held in the chapel. Don and I were there for that. We sang, read a poem (the moral was to be grateful for what you have -- especially your siblings), memorize the last stanza of the poem (each one recited it one at a time), and sang again.

Together they put on a play called “The Frog Prince.”Ashley played the part of the 4th Daughter who married the Frog Prince. During rehearsal she leaned the wrong way on the bench and toppled it. Fortunately that did not happen during the show.n
Unfortunately they started a few minutes early and we missed the beginning.

Ashley said her least favorite part was when tourists (many Japanese and Chinese tourists, as well as French and English Canadians, and Americans) took pictures of them while eating.

While visiting the village on Sunday Don and I learned a few things. We went to the Cheese Making Building where they make cheddar cheese. I learned two things here. The first was that the Canadians took over importing cheese to England during the 1860s because the Americans were too busy fighting the Civil War. The second was that they add an orange dye to the cheese they export so that the English could distinguish between the domestic and foreign cheeses upon sight.

We ran out of time at the village. I thought Ashley would want to spend a lot of time showing us around afterwards, but she was beat and we still had a 9 hour ride ahead of us.

Ashley is already asking to go back again next year, but this time for the full week. That suits us. This way we can spread out the driving and have a mini-vacation without her.

No comments:

Post a Comment