The Liberty Camp for Kids recently completed its fifth year at the Portage County Historical Society in Ravenna. The capacity group totaling 70 first- through sixth-graders spent a week "Experiencing the Founding of America" by participating in a total of 35 educational stations during the week of the half-day camp.
Stations took them back to before settlers from Europe landed in North America, through the colonial times as English subjects, through the Revolutionary War and the writing of the Constitution, right up to the War of 1812, which finally established the United States of America as separate from Great Britain.
Activities included reenacting the Boston TEA Party, marching with George Washington through the icy water to win the Battle of Trenton, signing the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, eating the food that children in colonial times ate, playing the games they played, writing with a quill and ink, learning from Betsy Ross how to make a five-pointed star, and "personally meeting" Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, and many other historical figures.
Katelin Paradise of Twinsburg who attended the camp this year said, "I really like Liberty Camp because it’s educational and fun at the same time. This year, I was able to learn the Bill of Rights and the 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence. Great Camp!"
Another camper, Mason Brigger of Cuyahoga Falls, said, "Liberty camp is an extremely fun place for kids. I love the hands-on learning, the staff is extremely nice and it’s neat to see how they are all dressed up."
Mason’s sister, Marissa, was a Teen Patriot who helped run this year’s camp, and she said, "Liberty Camp is always a huge part of my summer; the volunteers and staff always do an amazing job presenting their information. I started out as a camper and this was my third year as a Teen Patriot. I’ve never enjoyed a summer camp more."
Valerie Ehlert said that her daughter, Hope Ehlert of Stow, "Had the best time and learned a lot" from Liberty Camp. "She has done some events this year to help raise money for Liberty Camp and loved doing that. Next year, she will be able to be a Teen Patriot at Camp."
This year, a new committee was formed to rewrite the Liberty Camp curriculum with the goal of making it more chronological than it had been in past years and more engaging for the children, as well as having the Station Leaders, Group Leaders, and Teen Patriots be in costume and in character throughout the week.
The curriculum committee met from January through July, and was led by Anne Kaczmarek of Aurora, co-director of the camp; and included Nan Zawistowski, co-director, of Akron; Brenda Derreberry, treasurer, of Akron; Dave and Marsha Frost of Westfield Center; Janet Todaro of Hudson; Harvey and Shane McClary of Palmyra; Jackie Searfoss of Streetsboro; Bill Bell of Suffield; Shirley Fitzgerald of Ravenna; John McCarty of Garrettsville; Lesa Page of Randolph; Jean Popa of Randolph; and Bob and Dorothy Hurd of Rootstown.
In addition to the re-enactors and Curriculum Committee members, this year’s Liberty Camp volunteers included Toni and Katherine Becker of Westlake; Gary Burden of Nelson Township; Lanny Derreberry of Akron; Hank Dunckel of Ravenna; Ursula Ficht of Mantua; Joan Hormel of Kent; Dave Kaczmarek of Aurora; Kathy Kates of Texas; Bob Kuntz of Ravenna; Linda Lallathin of Ravenna; Mary Mumpfer of Stow; Rusty Quick of Windham; Rita Scott of Aurora; Debbie Stewart of Brimfield; Ernie Storch of Kent; and Keith and Terry Zellers.
Caring Neighbors United and its donors provide grants to the camp and scholarships to make the camp affordable and accessible to all the children of Portage and surrounding counties. Ravenna Giant Eagle also contributed to Liberty Camp, as well as Superior-Speedie Portable Toilets.
Liberty Camp for Kids will be held in Ravenna again in 2018. Dates have not been set, but anyone looking for more information can find it at www.LibertyCampforKids.com or on Facebook at Liberty Camp for Kids. Anyone wishing to volunteer to help with next year’s camp can send an email to email@example.com.