Sherry Jelsma woke up one morning and suddenly realized she had eight grandchildren that she wanted to see more often. She believed the best way to get to know them well was to learn something together. Her resources were the farm, her home. The children did not know a lot about rural life,nature, or big animals, but, she knew they loved challenges, new ideas, and making things. So, she and her husband instituted Farm Camp. The eight campers developed projects, sang songs, performed in plays, created art projects, and dealt in manyways with the resources and animals of the farm.The thrills and delights of the campers’ excitement could not be forgotten.
In 2008 when the SCHS needed a way to involve the community using its historical resources, Sherry suggested a History Camp to the board. Sharon Hackworth, Beth Dunn, and John Graham were mainstays the initial year. We decided twenty campers was our limit and the subject of camp would be, Early Kentucky, 1776-1812. We citizens were asked to impersonate Governor Isaac Shelby, Chief Tecumseh, and President Thomas Jefferson. Adults generously offered to give sessions on tobacco growing, arrow points, and fur trapping.
Others aided in the station activities of herbs for healing, making stew and cornbread, and creating quill pens and ink from berries. The demand was great, we enrolled twenty-nine campers. The second year, 2009, was the Civil War in Shelbyville, 1861-1864. Mayor Hardesty allowed Main Street to be closed for Confederate guerillas to gallop down the street shooting their guns in protest of the Yankees. They rode into our hospital tent and demanded attention for their wounded friend.
That year, interest was so high, we served fifty campers and had a waiting list of forty others. Again, adults volunteered and the teens helped us as assistant counselors. The campers had a wonderful time following their teen counselors, the girls wanted to involve adults as wel as children, so making and decorating straw hats, the boys making and wearing Confederate and Union"kepis" (hats). No one will forget the marching band, the songs and waiting for letters from the soldiers at the train station on tenth street.
Our 2010 theme, Go West Young Man 1846-1850, involved the gold rush, immigrants in Shelby County, and the gathering clouds of the coming Civil War. We had fifty campers and adult volunteers. The stations wer more complex. We had real-life engineers teaching bridge building and the power of the steam engine for trains and boarts. Our road builidng station was an eye-opener, as the campers built corduroy roads. We held a funeral as our Shelby County soldiers brought home the bodies of their comrades killed in the Mexican War, and we honored their graves still located on the front lawn of the Public Library. We all remember the drummer, James Mulcahy, and the coffins (large boxes from Tracy's carried by campers) and the library staff was dressed in black, who left the library to join us.
This marks our fourth year and we will address World War II, 1941-1945. It promises to be our best year ever! If there are any adults who want to join us, we always have room for more ides and more workers! Notify our new camp director, Michelle DeEsch at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your child or grandchild wishes to join us, the registration form is on the website, www.shelbycountyky.org, at the Heritage Welcome Center, 627 Main, or at the Library. History Camp is a success because everyone gets involved. Thanks you sponsors, adults, teens, parents and campers. You have given Shelby County as lasting memory..... you have created a bit of history.