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Patriot Camp takes children into early American history

Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star - Sophia Ilgenfritz (6) in the 'sack race' at the Minutemen Games Station. Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road. The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>    Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star</em></div>Sophia Ilgenfritz (6) in the 'sack race' at the Minutemen Games Station.  Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road.  The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star - Jacob Rzempoluch plays a tune on the kazoo. Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road. The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star</em></div>Jacob Rzempoluch plays a tune on the kazoo.  Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road.  The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star - The flag ceremony officially closed the week long Patriot Camp. Murrysville Police Captain Rob Liermann, US Army Sgt. Wright, Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held and US Navy Petty Officer Shelly Cobb conduct the flag folding ceremony under the watchful eye of General George Washington. Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road last week. The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>    Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star</em></div>The flag ceremony officially closed the week long Patriot Camp.  Murrysville Police Captain Rob Liermann, US Army Sgt. Wright, Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held and US Navy Petty Officer Shelly Cobb conduct the flag folding ceremony under the watchful eye of General George Washington.  Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road last week.  The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star - Jude Burkhart struggles to keep his uniform intack in the Minute Men Relay. Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road last week. The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>    Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star</em></div>Jude Burkhart struggles to keep his uniform intack in the Minute Men Relay.  Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road last week.  The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star - Dancing the virginia Reel at the closing ceremony. Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road last week. The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>    Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star</em></div>Dancing the virginia Reel at the closing ceremony.  Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road last week.  The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star - The flag ceremony officially closed the week long Patriot Camp. Murrysville Police Captain Rob Liermann, US Army Sgt. Wright, Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held and US Navy Petty Officer Shelly Cobb conduct the flag folding ceremony under the watchful eye of General George Washington. Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road last week. The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>    Lillian Dedomenic | For The Murrysville Star</em></div>The flag ceremony officially closed the week long Patriot Camp.  Murrysville Police Captain Rob Liermann, US Army Sgt. Wright, Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held and US Navy Petty Officer Shelly Cobb conduct the flag folding ceremony under the watchful eye of General George Washington.  Youth from first grade through fifth grade attended Patriot Camp at the Emmanuel Reformed Church on Hills Church Road last week.  The camp is designed to teach the children about the history of American in a fun camp setting.

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Friday, June 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

One might expect a typical summer camp counselor to wear casual summer clothing, sing silly songs and oversee craft projects.

A recent day camp, however, was anything but typical.

Those leading the weeklong events at Patriot Camp dressed in tricorn hats or gingham dresses, oversaw activities such as a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party and gave presentations to campers in character as historical figures.

“It's a fun event, and it's educational. We learn about our heritage and our founding fathers.” said Christine Lovett of Penn Township as she dropped off her kids, Ronnie, 12; Andrew, 10; and Allison, 7 on the last morning of the camp.

Held at Emmanuel Reformed United Church in Murrysville, Patriot Camp brought together about 60 campers and 40 volunteers for five days that immersed the area's young people in lessons about the beginning of the nation.

Set up with rotating stations, the camp offered children the chance to get up close and personal with history, as Thomas Jefferson talked about writing the Declaration of Independence; John and Abigail Adams read aloud letters they wrote to each other during the Revolutionary War; and Benjamin Franklin answered questions about his inventions.

Hands-on events also helped enlighten campers about how life was like at the time of the nation's founding.

Activities ran the gamut from day-to-day details, such as using a quill pen — in the camp's case, a pen with a feather attached — to write letters to their fathers for Father's Day to re-enacting the Boston Tea Party.

Patriot Camp drives history lessons home in active and engaging ways.

“It's something they can remember, much better than just reading about it,” said Donna Baker, who, along with Linda Dupill, helps organize the camp.

“They're a history lesson that goes with everything we do.”

The patriot campers seemed to respond enthusiastically to the lessons, whether sitting in rapt attention while George Washington shared stories of his life or taking part in a relay to test how quickly they could dress in a soldier's uniform.

“I liked learning about how the country was started,” Jacob Rzempoluch said.

The Hempfield 11-year-old also appreciated the snacks — many made in some way to demonstrate what foods were available in the founders' days — and also the games, which also showed campers how children played back then.

“They go home so happy, entertained and certainly a little more knowledgeable,” said Jean Pulsinelli, a volunteer from Murrysville.

The camp, which was started last year and is based on a program sold by the Constitutional Champions Foundation, helps participants to get a head start on history, as well as develop a sense of pride for their country.

“They are already interested because they've been to camp,” Pulsinelli said. “It sets a root for them to be patriots.”

Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer.

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