How to Make History an Activity

Proposal Developed by Macy Davis, July 2018

The Proposal:

Run history as a trial activity for the last two weeks of camp for kids to sign into. The Kawanhee History Museum is a rich resource that should be taken advantage of by camp as it is unique to Kawanhee. Furthermore, now is the perfect time to trial history as an activity considering the nearness of the 100th anniversary of Kawanhee. When this event arrives, wouldn’t it be cool to have campers who are actively engaging with their history? It would bring a new meaning to the phrase “May there always be a Kawanhee.” Based upon the success of the 2018 trial period, I would suggest history have a greater activity presence in some format for the 2019 camp season.

The Activity

The history activity program would revolve around four facets: Exploring, Creating, Curating, and Archiving. All facets would involve hands on components and have room for campers to explore what they’re interested in. This is just a base level outline of what such a program could look like, but I suppose it would have to include a level/points system to make it on par with other activities and incentivize campers to participate in the activity.


The first facet of the program is archiving because that is a primary function of the museum, to protect the Kawanhee history that we already have collected. This would be the first facet introduced so campers have a base level understanding of the museum before moving further into the history program. Consequently, the least time would be spent on this facet, except for campers who show a high interest in this could make it more of a focus of their time in history. Some activities that this could include are:

  • Learn organizational system of museum
    • Learn practices of storing materials
    • Practice archiving (here I’m thinking of boxes of material that I’ve heard are stored upstairs in the rec hall, as well as unarchived materials in the museum).
    • Help digitize catalogs, Wigwams, photos, etc.


The next facet of the program in history is curating, the practice of taking collected materials and helping make them accessible to others. This utilizes the skills developed in archiving because campers will know what materials are available to them and how to work with them in a safe manner. This is one of the most wide-open aspects of history because campers can work on literally any topic that interests them and create material in many formats. Some potential activities for this facet are:

  • Using Historical Materials to develop a display for others
    • In the Museum
    • Around Camp
    • Online
    • Use historical materials to create an activity for other campers
    • Write a history trivia question for Mike to use



Beyond understanding and working with history in the museum, campers should be able to practice exploring to learn about and understand history. This would allow campers to get out of the museum and into camp to connect what they’ve learned with their physical environment. Potential activities for this facet of the program in history are:

  • Visiting historic sites in/near to camp
    • Camp History Tour
    • Old Entrance/Site of horse riding
    • Kawanhee Inn
    • Trying to find and identify historical artifacts (even if they can’t be collected)
      • Lake Searching
      • Other locations in camp (shop, dining hall, nature, etc.)
    • History Field Trips
      • Weld Historical Society
      • Other trips as brainstormed and planned


The final facet of the program in history is for campers to understand that we are also responsible for creating history. The museum only exists because people decided to save their materials, share their stories, and preserve their camp experience. We need to do the same so that campers in the future can understand what camp life was like today. Potential activities for creating history include:

  • Record interviews around camp
    • Staff members
    • Other campers
    • Alumni (if we could arrange it)
    • Create maps
    • Take photographs/work with Gibby to identify people in photos
    • Share letters home, journal entries, writings about camp experience
    • Create a time capsule
    • Figure out what to keep in the trunk on the porch
    • Donate material to the Camp History Museum

The Trial Period

I’m suggesting the last two weeks of camp for a trial period of history as an activity that could be signed into by campers. This would give me a week to further develop the program and develop a level/points system if this proposal is accepted. Blaise suggested having one period of history a day available (maybe 4th period), and I think that’d be a great place to start and see what the camper interest is. At the moment, I’d suggest capping history at 5 or 6 kids just because the museum is kind of small and I’m only one woman. Free history activities would also continue to run intermittently in order to give all campers some solid history opportunities.

Evaluating the Program

An important part of this trial period would be in how we evaluate history’s potential as an activity. Camper feedback will be critical. I’d spend time talking with each camper who would participate in this history activity and make sure to keep a written record of their thoughts that could be evaluated in full at the end of the camp season. Furthermore, it would be great if camp staff (administration, activity heads, random other staff) could come observe a period of history and offer suggestions or thoughts on what’s being done to have another level of feedback. Sign in numbers and numbers of campers who sign into history more than once (or who try to) would also offer a quantitative form of feedback as opposed to purely qualitative feedback.

The Future

Based upon the trial period there are several options for moving forward with History as an activity. These are my thoughts, but obviously, I’m open to suggestions and collaboration if we choose to move forward with the development of camper interaction with history to higher degree than it is currently at.

  • Run history as an activity available during sign-outs only. This option might be most likely to get kids that are interested and motivated in come to history. This could be coupled with free history running a little more heavily during the first three weeks of camp to try and amp up camper interest ahead of sign-outs starting.
  • Run history as a regularly scheduled activity. This is an option that would take more work to get History in shape for. I think it’s something that could be done if that’s what we think would be good for camp. It would involve a little less free-history because more of those activities would have to be translated into the regular activity program.
  • A combination of option 1 and option 2 would be to run history primarily as a sign-out activity but schedule each lodge for it one time during the first 2 or 4 weeks of camp so that we could make sure each camper is guaranteed an introduction to the history museum and the history program that would then also potentially get them interested in coming to free history and then signing in to history as the camp season progresses.  
  • Another option would be if the trial period goes poorly to revert to just offering free history activities and keep actual museum work limited to whoever is responsible for the history museum.
  • I guess another option would be to revert to how the history museum was before 2018 and just have little to no camper interaction at all, but hopefully that’s not an option that anyone wants.
  • Something that I think could be done regardless of what happens with history as an activity is incorporating a little bit of history into the level systems of other activities. I’m not solid yet on the specifics of what this would look like, but it could be a pretty miniscule addition (for example: for nature it could be to come check out our 1920s era field guides and use it to identify something), and it would definitely offer a good way for kids to still work on activities/levels on a rainy day.

Respectfully submitted, July 2018

Macy Davis