Save summer vacation from boredom

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summertime is here and ball season is almost over. Please do not let your child or grandchild haunt you with the worst sentence of all time, “I’m bored.”

Save their summer vacation from boredom and send them to Discovery Week at Grand Village of the Natchez Indians from 9 a.m. to noon June 15 – 19. Discovery Week is a wonderful event for children ages 8 – 11 to learn about Natchez Indian history in a fun and unique hands on experience. Students will learn Native American ways of life, (including weapons, pottery, games and crafts), nature, archaeology and French colonial survival skills from nearly 300 years ago.

Discovery Week not only gives your child something to do this summer and ward off the “bored bug,” it also prepares your child for future classes in Mississippi and Native American history. All of the children learn hands on how the Natchez Indians and the French colonists survived in this area so long ago. Volunteers expose them to their different areas of expertise ranging from weaponry and pottery to plants and storytelling.

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Monday begins with a brief introduction to the Natchez Indians, and the importance of the Grand Village site to our history. Students will meet French colonial trappers portrayed by Clark Burkett and Albin Bertics who will explain to them how they survived the wilds of the Natchez area. Students will see how to make fire from flint and witness a peace pipe ceremony. They will even learn how to throw a tomahawk! This is always a favorite event among the Discovery Week participants.

After that demonstration, students will learn from Pat Martin about Native American pottery techniques, which include coil and pinch pots. The students will then make their own clay pots using natural clay, Native American design examples, and their wonderful imaginations. This is always a favorite among the campers because it is the dirtiest, so be prepared to get dirty!

Tuesday, Wilkie Collins will teach the students about flint knapping or the making of primitive spear points and arrowheads. He will also demonstrate how the Native Americans developed and used these primitive weapons and how they advanced. Last year the children filled the air with shouts of “WOW! Can I do it?”

After a short break, students will learn more about Native American games and get to play some of those as well. It will be a day filled with fun on the grounds!

Wednesday is a day packed full of fun and education. We begin at 9 a.m. by painting gourds. At 10, new volunteer Andy Peabody will instruct the students on the Native American game of stickball, known today as lacrosse. This game is always a favorite for all of our campers. After a short break, the children get to play.

Thursday begins with a nature walk led by Jackie Passbach. As we walk along Jackie will point out the different plants along the trail and their uses. We will also gather up items to use for decorating our upcoming crafts. Do not worry, Jackie and the volunteers will point out what is okay to pick up and what is not. When we return form the hike, campers will have a short break before they begin making rain sticks and masks with their findings.

Friday is our final day and this year we will go out with a bang. Longtime favorite storyteller, GrayHawk Perkins will astound students with his Native American tales. Like a snake charmer playing his flute, GrayHawk mesmerizes the campers with his many tales. He makes them laugh, he makes them jump, and he really makes them involved in the stories.

Friday is also the day we invite the parents and family members to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the time with us. The campers will receive their Native American names during our closing ceremonies and they will finally get to take home all of the crafts they have worked so hard on during the week.

If you are interested in adding a little excitement, knowledge and outdoor activity to your child’s life this June, come down to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and register your child or grandchild now.

The registration fee for Discovery Week is $40, and this includes a T-shirt, certificate, and whatever crafts your child makes while at camp.

You must come by the Grand Village to receive health forms, permission requests, and to pay the fee. Due to limited space, the program can only accommodate 20 children, registered on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of financial scholarships are available. Spaces are filling up fast so hurry up and register your child today.

Registration deadline is Friday, June 5. For further information, please call The Grand Village at 601-446-6502 or stop by the Grand Village located at 400 Jefferson Davis Blvd.

Grand Village of the Natchez Indians is administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Becky Anderson is the Historian for Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.