School Days at a Living History Event
By Jim Cummings
When you see the kids disembarking from the school busses screaming and yelling the first thought is that we are being invaded. And the first thought is - how will we be able to teach these kids anything. It’s a day free from school for them and they are excited. I’ve seen panic set in. No, not the kids but the sutlers, settlers, Indians and even the military units.
The military units are waiting for the order to fix bayonets, draw swords and take defensive action. But just when they thought the end was near with all these little people coming closer and closer, while sweat is breaking out on the re-enactors foreheads and their hands are tightening on their weapons a voice like a six pound cannon booms out. STOP RIGHT THERE. DON”T DARE TAKE ANOTHER STEP FORWARD.
And like a miracle - the teachers - the leaders of the little people have saved the day and taken control. Re-enactors start to breathe a little easier and the crisis is averted for now.
OK maybe I overdramatized a little bit. But not much. All good events have school days and it is an excellent chance to go beyond what is taught in today’s school curriculum. I have seen even the rowdiest kids settle down and begin to take an interest when a re-enactor speaks. I have seen very, very shy children open up and ask questions when they see food cooking on an open fire or a deer skin stretched and drying.
What a child may read and take little notice of in a text book becomes fascinating information when coming from the lips of a painted, native re-eanctor.
And the most exciting thing I’ve seen happen is when a child re-enactor speaks to children at a school day event. The school kids realize that re-enacting is for everyone. The child re-enactor gains status among the other children and their own self esteem rises. And information passed on from a knowledgeble child takes on even more meaning for the visiting student. It is a win-win situation.
So next time “the little people” come swarming off the busses hold your hat - they will benefit from your knowledge as a living historian.