Time travel is very possible for children aged 8-17.
Every year, children travel from across the region, across the province, across the country, across the continent and even across the globe, to attend one of the most unique summer camp experiences available anywhere.
Upper Canada Village’s Time Travellers Historical Discovery Camp has been offered since the 1990s. Nine week-long camps take place every summer with room to accommodate 30 campers per week. Time Travellers is for boys and girls ages 9 to 14.
“This camp really appeals to a wider geographic range than just the local region,” says Bruce Henbest, coordinator for interpretation at Upper Canada Village, who recently spoke with The Leader about this popular and long-running youth program offered annually at Upper Canada Village.
The program started in the 1990s, has grown in popularity since its inception and has a high rate of return for those children who attend the camp. The bulk of the campers come from Ontario, and particularly the Ottawa area, but they do draw a significant number from Toronto, Montreal, and have had campers come from the U.S., even Hawaii, and from Europe (France).
“A lot of our campers have come back year after year for five years,” said Henbest. “I think that recurring appeal says a lot about the program.”
“This is such a unique program, that we are fortunate to be able to offer,” he said, explaining that other living history museums in the U.S., no longer offer this type of opportunity.
“Upper Canada Village is such a magical setting, particularly in the evenings,” said Henbest, explaining that the campers have the opportunity to enjoy the village after closing. The setting and the unique 1860s experiences offered along with the camaraderie of a week-long camp make the Time Travellers experience unforgettable and unlike anything else out there.
Throughout the six day, five night camp, children stay in historic buildings that are set up as residences that are not open to the public. The buildings are outfitted with period furnishings, but have modern washroom and shower facilities. During orientation they are fitted with period clothing that they wear throughout the day when they are led through a range of activities in large or small groups that may include helping out in the kitchens of the homes or in the barns.
The authentic 1860s experiences could have the campers helping prepare a meal, milking a cow, feeding farm animals, or helping out the various tradespeople within the village. They too could participate in leisure activities such as painting or scroll working, which would have been popular 1860s leisure activities. The campers even attend school, 1860s style. “The hands-on opportunities we provide here are pretty unique,” said Henbest. The days are structured, but the evenings are filled with fun and games and campfires.
There are a few spaces available in the Time Travellers program this month. (Anyone interested should call 1-800-437-2233 or 613-543-4328 as soon as possible for details.)
Time Travellers is one a number of youth programs offered at Upper Canada Village.
This year, for younger children, aged 8-11 is the new “Time Travellers Try-a-camp”. It is a three day version of Time Travellers, running from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.
Like Time Travellers participants wear authentic costumes and take on the role of a child in the 19th century community.
Young Interpreters, another of the youth programs offered, provides more of a day-camp experience. For those ages 10-15, they come to Upper Canada Village for six days over two consecutive weekends to help portray life in the 1860s. For those 15-17 there is a senior youth interpreter program.