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Blast from the Past teaches youths about early settler life

Program coordinator said it offers a different perspective.

YORKTON – The Western Development Museum's 'Blast From the Past' camp concluded on August 19.

"It's a summer camp we do every year," said Solange Massicotte, Education and Public Programs Coordinator with the Western Development Museum.

Massicotte said that the program hasn't been available for the past two years due to the pandemic, but that it was nice to have it brought back for this year.

Massicotte said that the summer camp, formerly known as Pioneer Days, is was for children aged 6-12.  

“What's nice about it is they learn about settler skills more-or-less – like butter making, candle-making, rope-making,” said Massicotte, adding, “they also learn about the artifacts of the collection.”

“It's more-or-less like skills that settlers used to do on the homestead on the farm,” said Massicotte, adding, “we also had cursive writing, working on slate boards – just a lot of activities of another era, really.”

Massicotte said that the program had eight youths enrolled for the week of historical education –  a number she said they were happy with given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

“We're kind of slowly getting back into things,” said Massicotte.

Massicotte said the youths were engaged with learning the practices of settlers.

“I think really what it is, is perspective, because nowadays you can go and purchase things at the store, but it puts things in perspective of how savvy settlers were,” said Massicotte, adding, “they realize the hardship and the work that was put into running a home or a farm, so when you do these things, they're like – 'oh my god, it took an hour to make one candle' – it just blows their minds.”

Massicotte said that by teaching the youths about early settler life she has learned a lot herself.

“It's completely a different era that they've never experienced,” said Massicotte, noting, “before I started working [at the museum] I never knew how to do these things and now I do, so when I see things in the store – like a rope – I'm thinking, 'that took so much time to make'.”

“Just simple things like that, I look at things differently now,” said Massicotte.

Massicotte said she feels the program was a success based on the praise she received from parents and from the youths under her instruction.

“They looked forward to coming the next day,” said Massicotte, adding, “the feedback seems good and hopefully they take it with them.”

Massicotte said that at the end of each day the youths were offered activity kits.

“We made little activity kits for them each day and they have little historical facts and information,” said Massicotte, noting that the hope was the youths would partake in the learning outside of the camp.

Though summer camp is over, Massicotte noted that the museum has events happening regularly and said the public should keep an eye out for what's happening next.

To stay informed on events happening at the Western Development Museum, visit their website or Facebook page.

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