From soldier to singer, children can stay busy in the Miss-Lou

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 16, 2010

NATCHEZ — Local children will have plenty of chances to keep their brains and bodies active even after the final school bell sounds this month.

Attractions and programs use the school break to offer camps geared toward children that range in interest from history and nature to pottery and sports.

The Grand Village of Natchez Indians annually offers a jam-packed week of activities for its summer Discovery Week camp, and this year is no exception.

Becky Anderson, historian at the Grand Village, said the camp lets participants actually experience the history of the area through interactive activities and craft projects.

“The purpose of this camp is to get kids outdoors and introduce them to Native American traditions and cultures,” Anderson said.

The camp is from 9 to noon June 14-18 at the Grand Village, 400 Jefferson Davis Blvd. Registration is $40, which includes supplies for projects, a T-shirt and certificate.

Each day, Anderson said, will have new chances for learning for the attending children. Monday includes a nature walk with biology instructor Jackie Passbach and pottery making. Warrior Wednesday immerses the children in Native American history, including the hands-on archery instruction and a partial archaeology dig. Friday the children will learn to play the Native American game stickball and will get to show parents everything they learned during Discovery Week.

“The boys are more fond of the outdoor activities and playing stickball, and the girls are usually more geared toward the crafts, but they all enjoy the week,” Anderson said. “Coming to something like this does wonders for these kids because when they start hearing about this history in classes they are able to say what they’ve learned at the camp and able to really participate in the classroom. And they are ready to learn more.”

For more hands-on learning, the Junior Ranger camp sponsored by the Natchez National Historical Park offers a look at local history as well as outdoor activities that demonstrate the lifestyles of Natchez’s first settlers, Park Ranger Melissa Tynes said.

“We are going to be going on carriage rides and have someone from St. Catherine Creek come in and teach them to fish and about archery,” Tynes said. “We are going to learn about William Johnson and Melrose. The focus is on the cultural and natural history of the Natchez area.”

This year’s Junior Ranger program is a week-long program, a change from last year’s weekend format.

The free camp is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 21-25 with a graduation ceremony on Friday. Registration is open to children 8 to 12.

Registration is limited to the first 30 participants. Registration forms are available at Melrose or online at www.nps.gov/natc under the “For kids” link.

Children will need to bring a lunch each day.

Historic Jefferson College is offering three camps this year for history and nature enthusiasts.

Pioneer camp from June 1-4 is for ages 7 to 9 and June 22-25 for ages 10-12.

Historic Jefferson College will also offer Civil War Adventure Camp, July 7-9 for boys and girls ages 8-12 and Naturalist Camp, July 20-23 for students ages 9-12.

Each session runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Light refreshments will be provided. The cost is $20 per child, and payment must be received in order to hold a spot for your child. A limited number of financial scholarships are available.

Registration information is available by calling Historic Jefferson College at 601-445-2901.

Robin Person, branch director at Historic Jefferson College, said the camps provide participants with the chance to be get outside and appreciate the history and nature of the area.

“We are a historical site so part of our mandate is to teach people about history and we do that with these programs,” Person said. “The kids like the hands on aspect of it. They like to get out there and drill with fake guns and play the pioneer games.

“Kids are too busying staying inside these days, this is a good way to get them outside and learn.”

For aspiring musicians, the Children Prep Music Studio offers an introductory day camp June 21-25 for ages 3 to 8.

“This exposes them to the elements of music that many of them don’t get anywhere else,” instructor Kathleen Mackey-King said. “It gives them an experience with music and hopefully lights a spark in them.

“Music helps self-discipline and concentration not only in music but school and other activities.”

The classes are divided by age with 3 and 4-year-olds meeting from 3:30 to 4:15 each day and 5- to 8-year-olds meeting from 4:15 to 5 each day.

The camp is $65 and limited to the first 12 registered per session. The registration deadline is June 15. For a registration form, call 601-445-5980.

Natchez Clay is also offering three clay camps this summer for children and teenagers.

Teen Artist Week is from 1 to 3:30 p.m. July 12 – 16 and is open to children ages 12 to 18.

In the teen workshop, participants get a chance to throw on the potter’s wheel to make a variety of pieces.

No experience is required. The $160 fee includes clay, instruction, glazes, firing and T-shirt.

A $60 deposit is required and the camp is only open to the first 10 registered.

Kids Clay Camp is July 19 to July 23. Two sessions are available; from 10 a.m. to noon or 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Participants make a variety of hand-built projects during the week.

The instructors let the work dry, glaze and fire it in the kiln.

The $160 fee includes clay, instruction, glaze, firing, snack and T-shirt. A deposit is required to reserve one a spot in the sessions. Space is limited in each session. The special needs clay camp is from 3:30 to 5 p.m. June 21 – 25. Several hand-built clay projects are made during the week with assistance from the instructors. Students without full use of their hands will require a family member to attend.

The $160 fee includes clay, instruction, glazes, firing, snacks and T-shirt. A $60 deposit is required.

“There is no limit to the imaginations of all our campers, so it is amazing to see what the children are able to come up with and do,” Natchez Clay owner Donna Jones said.

Separate gallery exhibits will be planned for each camp for family and friends to view the projects completed during the camps. For more information, call Donna Jones at 601-660-2375 or visit www.natchezclay.com.