While increasingly becoming known for collectively harboring some of northern New England’s most interesting collections, many Heritage Trail Museums have also developed innovative summer programs for kids.
At the American Independence Museum in Exeter, the objective is to educate kids just as much as it is to provide them with opportunities for fun. “It is important to learn about the past to help understand how we got to where we are today and where we are going,” said Abby Pietrantonio, AIM education manager. “We want to inspire kids to look critically at history and their own lives and make connections from the past to the present.”
This summer, AIM will offer three summer programs for kids, ages 8 to 13. New to this year’s summer offerings, the Junior Historian Program will provide older children with the chance to visit local museums and galleries and engage in hands-on demonstration in archaeology, collections management, architecture, preservation and genealogy.
“Our other programs enable kids to assume the lives of real 18th century Exeter residents,” she added. “They will be learning and having a lot of fun at the same time, too.”
At the Libby Museum in Wolfeboro, Sheryll Ross said diversity is key to their summer offerings for kids. “We offer a two hour program for children, ages 5-7, called Lil’ Sprouts, “Kamp Kindness” in which children will enjoy hands-on creative activities and enviro-science rooted in an anthology of age-appropriate literature from around the world,” she said.
In Kidventures, for children, ages 7 to 13, children will engage in hands-on activities, art projects, cooking outside, games, and role-playing experiences as well as hear stories and explore the museum’s collections. “We can accommodate any family’s needs,” she added.
In Tamworth at the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm, Educator June O’Donal said their emphasis is on exploration this summer with four weeks of Homestead Adventures. She said each week will focus on one of four history-based topicsâ€”create eclectic art using inspirations from different periods of American history; explore the experiences and pastimes of a 19th-century kid; discover your inner budding herbalist through gardening, cooking and making herbal medicines; and wood working using historical tools.
“It’s a fun way for kids to connect with New Hampshire”s historic past and enjoy time on our working farmstead,” she said.
At the New Hampshire Boat Museum in Wolfeboro, school-age children will have two opportunities for fun, according to Executive Director Lisa Simpson Lutts. In August, the Museum will provide a two-week boat building course for boys and girls ages, 12 and older, who will build their own boat with the assistance of volunteers.
“In late July, the Museum offers Lake Discovery Camp for children, ages 5-13, where we will offer fun adventures that teach about boating, lake ecology, and arts and crafts,” she said. “Students will learn to race radio-controlled model yachts, do water experiments on a floating classroom, and ride the Millie B on Lake Winnipesaukee.”
No matter where a child goes on the Heritage Trail this year, Pietrantonio said she believes Trail museums fill a critical role in fun, creative and relevant ways.”
“We’re trying to inspire kids to dig deeper into history,” she said. “By showing them that the past can be fun, we can inspire them to reflect and maybe even seek out more information about a particular topic that they initially learned about at any of these wonderful museums.”