News Column

History comes alive at summer camp

July 16, 2014

By Susan Meeker, Glenn County Transcript, Calif.

July 16--Orland youngsters traveled back in time this week, doing chores and playing games the way their ancestors did more than 100 years ago.

It was all part of the Orland Historical and Cultural Society's annual summer history camp at the Alta Schmidt House and Museum, which gives elementary-aged children a glimpse into the past.

Some dressed in knickers and diamond socks, others in long dresses and bonnets as they learned about life in the late 1800s.

The five-day event was also an important milestone for the local Historical and Cultural Society, said organizers and historian Gene Russell.

"This is our 20th camp," Russel said.

Russell designed the first camp in 1995 to keep kids active while teaching them about local history, after reading about a similar program in Chico.

"Our first camp was sponsored by the Orland Recreation Department and held in the Carnegie Center," he said. "But after making three trips to the museum in one week, we decided this would be a great program for the Historical Society."

About 21 children attend the history camp each year for a week of intense learning.

The camp started June 7 with a walking tour of Orland's historic sites.

On Wednesday, they did chores like chopping wood and washing clothes on a washboard, the way they would have done it more than a century ago.

On Thursday, they made a family tree and brought some old items and antiques from home for "show and tell."

Lucia Salinas, 8, brought part of a old rifle stock and housing, along with an interesting story to go with it.

"My grandfather found it in his house when he first moved to Orland," Salinas said, of a gun that would be quite valuable if it were close to its original condition.

The History Camp is so enjoyable to some participants that many come back as volunteers and help the younger children with the activities, Russell said.

Katie Kraemer, 12, a junior staff member, has come to camp the past five years.

"My brother came for three years," Kraemer said. "I keep coming because it is so fun. What I like the most is the walk around Orland."

First-time camper Jason Vonasea, 9, said he too enjoyed the walk through town.

"I liked learning about all the buildings that were there before the ones there now," he said.

Campers also learned In the 1800s that children had hours of chores to do just to help get dinner on the table and wood in for the night.

They all peeled apples with an old hand-crank peeler and shelled corn for chicken feed.

They also had a fashion show of old-fashioned clothing belonging to the museum and played games that children would have played long before electricity and battery-powered devices occupied their time.

Catie Drake, 10, said the camp was her second and she plans to come back next year to learn more about her hometown.

"I think this is a nice way to learn about Orland and how it came to be," Drake said.

"I have lived in Orland my entire life."


(c)2014 the Glenn County Transcript (Willows, Calif.)

Visit the Glenn County Transcript (Willows, Calif.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Glenn County Transcript (CA)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters