Camp takes children ‘back in time’

Kendra Baker photos
For the second year, Wilton Historical Society took six- through 10-year-olds “back in time” to learn about Colonial life through crafts, games, historic artifacts and other hands-on activities during its Colonial Boot Camp.

The purpose of the camp is to “give kids a chance to really immerse themselves in a wide variety of Colonial activities,” said Wilton Historical Society’s museum educator, Lola Chen.

“From making bread every day to pumping water, making soap or candles, trying out games like Graces, and dressing up in traditional garb — it’s all very absorbing and hands-on, and the kids love it,” she said.

The camp’s popularity last year led to the addition of a third Colonial Boot Camp session this summer. There were also more camp counselors this year, said Chen, providing campers with “more individual attention,” as well as “allowing them to work on different projects simultaneously, and for each camper to work at his or her own pace.”

Chen noted that “independence” and “the development of a ‘can-do’ attitude” are encouraged at the camp.

Also new this summer was the addition of a book-binding activity, where campers wrote up Colonial recipes with quill pens and bound them into a recipe book. Of all the activities, Chen said, Colonial cookery is “always a huge hit.”

“We work together each day to bake bread — plus we make a peach cobbler, which I think teaches them responsibility and self-reliance [because] if you’re hungry, you are responsible for satisfying that need,” said Chen.

Soap-making, dressing up and weaving are also popular activities.

Chen said Colonial Boot Camp is a great choice for children looking for a unique summer experience.

“The Wilton Historical Society offers activities that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, such as book binding, tin-punching, felting, weaving and more,” she said. “Also, we keep the camp small for a reason — so that each camper has a more individually tailored experience.”

Chen said her favorite part about Colonial Boot Camp is seeing “the look of wonder on a kid’s face when they learn a new skill” and the “excitement and enthusiasm” they have about the things they create at camp.

“Seeing how proud they are of their accomplishments — that’s the best part of camp,” said Chen.