(Written by my youngest daughter, Jule Nelson-Duac)
There I was, sitting in history class thinking, ” There’s a more fun way of learning this!” Why can’t school be more like my life at Kings Landing? The teacher’s voice droned on as I looked out the window. I recalled my summer days and the last time we were in New Brunswick, Canada. I was lucky enough to attend a living history camp at Kings Landing. They call it “Visiting Cousins” and that is what we all pretended to be for a week. I went with my two cousins, Scott and Jaime, and my big sister, Amanda. As it turned out it was really fun, even better than space camp.
On the way there Scott was a little worried about what he would be doing during the week, no soccer or baseball. Actually, we were all a little nervous because we did not really have any proof that it was going to be fun. What if it was boring and we were trapped? To make things even worse Amanda said we could be in trouble because we didn’t know anything about the history of Canada and probably all of the other kids would know plenty. That idea had not occurred to me. As I wondered if this was really a good idea we arrived at the back door of Kings Landing.
Following a nice lady in a long dress and apron we registered and it was then that we received our new family names for the week. Pert of the camp experience includes trading shorts, t-shirts and sandals for clothing worn by children in the 19th Century. I received my sleeping shirt and cap, a pair of moccasins and a wonderful old time dress that was to be my costume for the week. I became Jule Huestis.
The costume that I received was what I wore each day for the next week. Lucky for me it came with an apron. The kind of clothing depends on the assigned household. It must be typical of the stature of the household. Long dresses or skirts for the girls and breeches for the boys each meant to represent any time between 1840-1890.
I have a hint for anyone planning to attend the camp. Pack light. Why? You really only need a little bit because if it was not invented before 1890 it is not allowed. That means no CD players or hair dryers. No make up or baseball caps. Once checked in we went upstairs and the parents stayed behind. The check in house is also the dormitory were we slept every night. Right away I met my roommates for the week. They were all my age. I remember thinking, what a relief, these are neat kids who love history too.
We spent the next five days learning how things really were more than a hundred years ago. Each morning we took turns milking the cows and feeding the pigs. Each day I got to do different activities like, cleaning, cooking, and other random chores which all of us shared. There are usually two children assigned to a house. Each of us became the visiting cousin to our assigned house and the history interpreters in that house became our adopted family. Each day our lunches were at different houses for example most of the time I went to the Long’s house to eat even though my temporary family was located at the Heustis house.
Basically while being a visiting cousin no one is allowed to talk about things like, T.V, Game Boys, or magazines because that sort of stuff wasn’t invented yet. We all attended a one-room schoolhouse and our teacher was called a schoolmarm. The tallest kids sat in the back. How could that be fun you may be wondering? Don’t worry we aren’t talking language arts pages or math work sheets. We learned poems, read from old time schoolbooks and learned the British National Anthem (God Save the Queen). Kings Landing represents a Loyalist Colony so we learned about politics in an off hand way. I also learned how to curtsy and to churn butter.
My week was a little bit like being a cast member in a made-for-TV documentary. We did our tasks and activities while visitors to Kings Landing took their tours. We were demonstrating part of history. The whole time I was their I never realized I was learning because it was so much fun. Everyone should get the chance to do this!