School’s out, education continues

Published 12:13 am Monday, May 16, 2011

On May 25, the gates of the Natchez-Adams School District will open, releasing children with the energy of tsunamis back into your homes for the summer. They will be searching for something to fight off their boredom. Do you have an emergency summer fun flood plan? We do.

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians will have its annual Discovery Week for children ages 7 to 11, from 9 a.m. to noon June 13-17.

Registration fee for Discovery Week is $40 and is limited to 15 participants, so sign up early. Registration deadline is Wednesday, May 25.

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At Discovery Week, campers will learn about Native Americans and French settlers from our wonderful volunteers who each specialize in their crafts, including pottery, weaponry, archery, storytelling and games. The students not only get to hear about people from 300 years ago, they get to do some of the same crafts done by the natives of the Natchez area and take their projects home with them at the end of camp.

Each weekday offers a special program and craft, in which the volunteers teach what they know and allow the students to participate. (While the kids think they are just there to have fun, they are really learning!) So, when they go back to school and they start learning about Native Americans and Mississippi History, your little campers will know more about the subject than their friends who stayed at home watching television this summer.

This year’s Discovery Week is very exciting. We kick off Monday with volunteer Brenda Seab teaching the children about Native American pottery techniques, and students will make their own pottery. This is a really fun day for the children because it is also the dirtiest, and for some reason, how dirty you get is directly related to how much fun you have.

We will also learn about snakes and some other key things to look out for on our nature walk. Tuesday begins with the nature walk led by Jackie Passbach, who will teach them how to identify plants. After a well-deserved break, the students will divide into groups to hear storytelling by Marianne Raley, make masks and paint their own story maps. On Wednesday, Wilkie Collins, who has helped us for nearly two decades, will show and demonstrate Native American tools and weapons. His flint knapping skills always fascinate everyone.

After our campers learn about flint knapping from Wilkie, they will divide into groups and learn archery from Jack Kerwin, archaeology from Jim Barnett and make their own non-sharp spears. Thursday, French colonial re-enactors Clark Burkett and Albin Bertics will teach the children how Frenchman in the 1700s would have survived in this area. The children will learn how to start a fire using flint, steel and char cloth, and they will get to throw a real tomahawk. Children will also learn the game stickball, which is a lot of fun and always a Discovery Week favorite. Friday we will have our picnic at 11 a.m. when families of attending children are welcome to picnic with the children and visit the site. This is a very important picnic, because this is when the campers learn their American Indian names.

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 $40 registration fee includes a T-shirt, certificate and all of the 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. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information, please call me at The Grand Village — 601-446-6502 or stop by the Grand Village located at 400 Jefferson Davis Blvd.

Becky Martin Anderson is a historian at Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.