Heartland Farm held its annual Peace Camp the first week of June, with 20 children in attendance. The theme this year was Native Americans, said Marilyn Pearson, camp spokesperson.
The one week day camp is for kids ages 8 to 11, with several from Great Bend and Ellinwood, and one from Timken this year. The Dominican Sisters rented a van to bring the kids to and from the farm each day, where they stayed from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Several volunteers helped with presentations throughout the week.
On Monday, Rhonda Westerhaus of Pratt did a program on Conflict Management with the kids.
Tuesday, the Sisters took the kids on a field trip to Pawnee Rock where they learned about the significance of the Rock to the history of the Sante Fe trail both by the Native Americans and the Pioneers.
Wednesday, Sr. Ginger Pearl, CSJ told the story of her grandmother and the Potawatomi Trail of Death, a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Several Potawatomi tribes traded their tribal lands in Michigan and Indiana in exchange for lands in Kansas and annuities. Several children died of Typhoid fever and the stress of the move along the way.
Thursday morning, Jared Gingrich and Shana Goering led the campers in a game called “Carnivores and Univores,” a clue finding game, out by the prairie labyrinth, Pearson said. In the afternoon Jean Aycock from the Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands museum brought bison artifacts and talked with the kids about their importance to the Native Americans.
Friday, Aycock returned for a presentation about owls, and brought a live screech owl for the kids to meet.
Games and crafts were also part of the activities. The campers made and decorated LaCrosse sticks, as well as Indian head bands, teepees, sit-upons decorated with Native American symbols, and more.
“They even made rain sticks,” Pearson said. “And we received rain.”
The Native American theme extended to lunch also.
“Each day and Sr. Jane lead three children on a gathering expedition to find what was needed for the next day’s lunch,” she said.
After lunch the children did chores chosen at random: dishes, gathering, yard, alpacas, chicken tractor, garden and lazy day. Afternoons were spent swimming in the farm pond before or after snacks, followed by watching videos.
Each year, the Sisters focus on a different theme with Peace as the underlying goal. Some previous themes were “Kansas” in 2012, where they focused each day on something about their home state. In 2013, the theme was “Peace,” with a focus on peace with ourselves and with animals, plants and others. That year, the alpaca herd had a new addition, the cria Jasper, who was born that week of camp, Pearson said.