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Clay holds annual history camp

— The week of July 9, seven girls and seven boys from around town made some wonderful memories. Under the direction of Cindy Redhead, chairperson of this year’s History Camp, and nine volunteers and helpers, they were kept very busy for five days learning about the Civil War as it related to Clay.

The first day, History Camp participants learned what Civil War soldiers needed when they went to battle — uniforms, equipment and food. In the log cabin, they were told how women were involved from staying home and doing their husbands’, fathers’, sons’ or brothers’ work plus their own jobs, to actually being spies and masquerading as men to be soldiers. Camp participants were assigned either a blue or gray shirt.

The second day was spent at the old railroad station learning about the part trains played in the war. After learning how important the Morse code was in the war, the kids practiced by interpreting a message which was really a famous saying of Abraham Lincoln. Using the railroad lantern they made, they marched in the dark pretending they were escaping slaves.

Wednesday was off to the District 5 one-room school house, where kids were instructed in how it would have been to learn with eight grades in one room, plus some stories from people who had attended school in a similar setting. After learning a slave song which was sung by the escaping slaves, they made a picture of the Little and Big Dippers, the slaves’ guides to finding freedom. Using a map of the slave routes through New York, camp participants measured the distance between known safe areas on the way to freedom in Canada. A bag race followed with blue against gray.

Thursday at the Pine Plains Cemetery, kids made rubbings of tombstones of Civil War soldiers and researched their ancestors. They toured the cemetery and learned about different types of stones and family names around Clay. The children were then asked to find the tombstone with an American Indian on it. Then they played quiet games under the trees at the cemetery.

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