Monday, February 11, 2013

LEAP! this summer

Though there's still an undeniable chill in the air around the Museum, we in Education are hard at work planning our 2013 LEAP! (Learn + Play) summer camps. For seven very special weeks this July and August we invite campers ages five to thirteen to discover enchanted creatures, cook on an open hearth, join the circus, sail the high seas, and indulge their creative minds. 

One of our offerings is AHOY! A Week at Sea, a nautical-themed camp for six-to-eight year-olds that we ran for the first time last year. I wrote the curriculum for AHOY!, and experienced one of my all-time favorite museum moments on "Steamship Day," when we learned about the Ticonderoga and put ourselves in sailors' shoes.

Intern Callie and Lex practice their figure eight knots.
We're fortunate to have a knowledgeable Museum staff, including several true maritime experts. Peter Tomasi, our Ticonderoga carpenter, leads a group of dedicated volunteers who work on the boat year-round. One of them is Lex Nason, who has volunteered in the Ti workshop for eighteen years and over 8,000 hours. He and Peter generously offered to spend the morning teaching our campers the nautical knots they know and use.

A book of knots.
Each camper had their own three-foot length of rope. We began with basic overhand knots and worked our way up to figure-eights, which hold better and are also easier to untie when needed. Before long, our campers tied their water bottles together using their new skills and created a pulley system for hoisting them onto the tables!
Peter demonstrates a knot he uses on the Ticonderoga.
All hands on deck! Our water bottles get a boost.
We try to build activities into camps for staff to share their expertise with an eager young audience. On another afternoon during our "Week at Sea" campers questioned Shelburne Museum's Director of Buildings Chip Stulen, who happens to be trained in boat building, about ship design. Then campers built their own models complete with smokestacks, flags, figureheads, and rudders. My colleague Paige spoke with the kids about her years traveling the world on a cruise ship and told the Native American story of Natsilane and the killer whale, a fascinating piece of nautical folklore. 

I always look forward to planning these fun, creative, and interactive camp activities--they brighten the short winter days.
A sailor's life!
Camp registration is now open--click here to learn more about our offerings and download a registration form. We hope to see you this summer!

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