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Time Traveler’s camp makes history fun

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A Civil War re-enactor will tell children what it was like fighting the war and will share his tools and weapons.

Youngsters will munch on cornbread with butter they made themselves as part of learning about how Johnson County’s first pioneers lived.

The Johnson County Museum of History’s annual Time Traveler’s History Camp runs from 9 a.m. to noon July 21 to 25.

Organizers tout the camp as a way to give interested kids interested a way to learn in the summer and as a way to foster a love of history. Registration for the camp is open until Tuesday.

“I want them to understand the importance of leaving a record for the future,” said Goldie Jones, educational coordinator at the museum.

The five-day camp started at the Johnson County Museum of History in 2005. That year, about 10 students sewed on quilts and hats to learn about the history.

Over the past nine years, the camp has evolved to include re-enactors, tours, foods and crafts that coincide with history.

“It was more crafts then anything when it started,” Jones said. “I wanted to catch them enjoying history.”

Children who have completed the third and fourth grades will tour each of the rooms in the museum on themed days.

They will learn about Native Americans on day one and will wrap up with a 1950s-themed sock hop complete with hot dogs and root beer floats.

Many summer camps in the area focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematical education or sports, museum director Carrie Birge said.

“There is a push for STEM camps now, for kids interested in the humanities, besides music, there isn’t a lot out there,” Birge said.

The costs are being covered with help from a grant.

The Franklin Rotary Club gave $6,000. The money is being used to hire a zoologist to teach campers about the native Indiana animals and a videographer to document the experience and be later used in advertising. Campers will also receive a T-shirt.

“This year we are able to do some things that we haven’t done in the past,” Birge said.

One of the goals is to break the stigma that history is boring, Jones and Birge said.

The biggest challenge is overcoming the stereotype that the museum is a big sterile building, and just letting people know that the museum exists, Birge said.

“I don’t want kids to think history is boring,” she said.

Slowly, the camp has grown and kids have been put on a waiting list to register. The camp is limited to 20 kids.

Organizers have started to bring in more to do.

A storyteller will tell youngsters about living in the pioneer days in the county. Students will snack on trail mix and dried berries while learning about Native Americans and will dress up in Victorian clothes to learn about that era.

Birge wants the camp to be an annual event that won’t be missed by kids with an interest in history, she said.

“My main goal is that it will be a mainstay in the community that people will know about,” she said.

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