The camp’s directors, Lee alumna Abbey Thomas and anthropology majors Emma-Leigh Evors and Allie Webb, joined forces to broaden local youths’ understanding of archeology.
According to Webb, most people still relate archeology to dinosaurs and rocks.
Added Thomas, “Some of the parents told us they thought the camp would be about dinosaurs. We had to backtrack and explain that is not what we do.”
The ladies converged and planned two sessions to be split between four weekends. They drew up lessons, sought volunteers and asked experienced archeologists to speak with the young students.
Evors saw the camp as a great opportunity for local kids.
“A lot of them know about Indiana Jones and all that good stuff, but most of the time it is an inkling or an idea,” Evors said. “If they actually have the ins and outs of what [archeology] takes, they might strive to do it.”
Participants in the camp plowed through the activities on the first day. The experience was a lesson in improvisation for the first-time camp directors.
Thomas said the plan was to originally have 30 kids for the first session. That would put 10 kids for every camp director. Instead, there were about 13 youth signed up for the first session and 16 for the second. Most in attendance were around 7 or 8, but there have been a handful of teenagers.
Evors said the smaller group setting is more conducive to learning about archeology.
“Five kids to each leader is a good amount,” Thomas said. “There was a lot of one-on-one attention given to the kids.”
The young participants received lessons in surveying, tools used by archeologists, stratigraphy, steps in excavation and refitting/mending pottery. Scheduled field trips found the archeologists-in-training visiting a house demolition site, investigating in the Schimmel’s Park creek and digging behind the university’s Archaeology House, located off Trunk Street.
“There is pressure to make sure kids actually understand what we are saying,” Webb said. “We are at a college level, so how can we make this at an elementary school level so the kids can understand?”
Some of the questions dealt with technical terms like “relative dating.” Evors said one child asked her the meaning of fertility.
“I explained the best I could without referring him to his parents,” Evors said.
The question came during a lesson on symbols. Students were told corn was seen as a symbol for fertility. Evors said she related the term to plants and crops.
Added Webb with a laugh, “Kids come up with some awesome questions, I think.”
All three camp directors said they would like to see the program grow into a larger camp in the future.
“Of course, it would be awesome if we could have this huge, weeklong thing in the summer,” Webb said. “We could have rotating rooms and multiple stations and huge [activities] like that.”
Thomas said she would like to see more people come in the future.