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Bushy Run camp aims to make history fun for kids

| Monday, July 10, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Her face painted green, Caroline Kain demonstrated how to nock an arrow in a bow Monday afternoon at Bushy Run Battlefield Park. She fired it skyward, and it traveled a good 15 feet in the air before it dropped to the ground.

“Yeah, I do have pretty good shot,” said 7-year-old Caroline, of Manor.

Archery lessons are one of several ways volunteers at Bushy Run's Living History Day Camp are bringing Native American history to life this week. But don't worry, they're using unsharpened arrows.

From Monday to Wednesday, 25 children ages 6 to 11 will hear stories, make crafts, play games and watch reenactments at the site in Penn Township where British and Native American soldiers clashed during Pontiac's Rebellion.

“The whole point is, first of all, for the kids to have fun with history and, secondly, to maybe learn a little bit,” said camp director Maxine Ruble, 74, of Delmont.

The first camp last summer focused on the British military, Ruble said, while this year's focuses on the lives of Native Americans.

Ruble is no stranger to the subject: a former teacher in the Greensburg Salem School District, she and her son participated in several battle reenactments at the park.

Next year's theme will be colonial life, Ruble said. She hopes the camps spark an interest in history for the participants and inspires them to volunteer at the 213-acre park and museum there when they're old enough.

“I think it's important to catch their imagination when they're young,” she said.

Nick Lapiana, a history major at St. Vincent College, is interning with the Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society this summer. The interest the kids are showing is reassuring, he said.

“A lot of the time, there's almost a fear that people are going to stop caring, and that places like this will just kind of go away,” said Lapiana, 22, of Apollo. “It's good to see that there's a future for it.”

Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2122, mguerry@tribweb.com, or via Twitter at @MattGuerry.

Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Bushy Run Battlefield Park president Bonnie Ramus helps Aishlinn Connolly, 9, with a bow and arrow during the Bushy Run Battlefield Children's Day Camp on Monday, July 10, 2017, at Bushy Run Battlefield. The camp for children is being hosted for the second year this week and features a Native American theme.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Collin Dransart, 8, throws a tomahawk during the Bushy Run Battlefield Children's Day Camp on Monday, July 10, 2017, at Bushy Run Battlefield. The camp for children is being hosted for the second year this week and features a Native American theme.
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