While some local children enjoy a week of summer camp on area lakes, or visiting faraway relatives, others choose to step back into history and visit another time period.
The Rippleton Schoolhouse Camp, which is in its eighth year of operation, is located on the grounds of the Lorenzo State Historic Site. The program ran from July 30 to Aug. 3, and allowed 14 young area residents ages 8 to 11 to travel back to the 19th century and become students of Schoolmarm Mattie Buckland. During the week, the kids participated learned about what life was like in the 1800s and participated in period arts, crafts, games and activities.
“It’s a fun time. We learn a lot, and the students are always excited to come to schoolhouse,” said Kathleen Emerson, the most recent incarnation of Buckland. “I think I was in the right place at the right for this position. I knew [former schoolmarm] Barbara Cooke, and heard there was an opening. This is a great experience, both for me and the children.”
Each day, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the historically-accurate 19th century schoolhouse, students learned academic lessons on the antique blackboard and details about life in Cazenovia more than 100-years while sitting in authentic Sears Roebuck and Company desks.
The daily routine is similar to that of present day schooling, complete with a lunch break and short recess. The curriculum included arithmetic, writing, map-reading and word puzzles, and activities included anagrams, basket weaving, flower pressing, a tour through the Lorenzo Mansion, pottery, tin punching and spool knitting, as well as creating rebuses and thaumatropes.
“The lessons and activities are all very interesting, but I think my, and the children’s, favorite thing is flying box kites at lunchtime and at recess,” Emerson said. “It’s really a sight to see.”
Local resident Bonnie Slocum showed the students how to weave wicker baskets on Wednesday, Aug. 1, and a representative from Carrol Teitsworth Liberty Balloons exhibited his 19th century hot-air balloon for the group on Aug. 3.
Emerson said Lorenzo coordinators are considering turning the camp into a two-week program next year, adding themes in late-19th century art and science while possibly increasing the size of the student body.
“In 1997, The Friends of Lorenzo and the Cazenovia community came together to raise funds to move and restore the Rippleton Schoolhouse to the Lorenzo site. Sarah Auchincloss had generously donated the building to New York state. Since that time, school groups have been visiting the schoolhouse throughout the academic year — and we are pleased that our summer camp is now in its eighth year running,” said Lorenzo State Historic Site Director Barbara Bartlett. “Our first camp schoolmarm was Casey Frazee, then Barbara Cook ran the program for three years, and now Kathleen Emerson is placing her own stamp on the program. The campers receive an educationally fun-filled week, so it has been gratifying to see how history can be brought to life for such energetic 8- to11-year-olds.”
Emerson, who is the wife of independent historian and Skaneateles Press Editor Jason Emerson, currently teaches fifth grade at Chittenango Middle School, and once served as a potter at the Genesee Country Museum.
For more information on the Lorenzo State Historic Site, call 655-3200 or visit lorenzoNY.org.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.