Sunday, May 17, 2009

Field Trip: Lewis and Clark Heritage days

The month of May means Lewis and Clark Heritage Days in St. Charles.  (The Corps of Discovery departed from St. Charles on May 21, 1804).  My Schnickelfritz and I went to early church service so we could head over to the encampment in time for the Fife and Drum parade at noon.  Here they are being reviewed by Lewis and Clark--and Seaman, the dog.

The loudest part of our adventure was the firing of the cannons--two and four pounders.  These reenactors are wearing red coats but I don't believe they were portraying British soldiers.  The commands were all given in French.  We had advance warning to cover our ears, but some fisherman on the Missouri were nearly surprised right out of their boat.

My best advice is to let your children interact with the reenactors.  Whenever Fritz would ask me a question, I'd say "Great question! Let's find somebody we can ask."  These men and women are full of passion (they'd have to be to sleep in those tents and suffer the heat in wool costumes) and it was contagious.  Fritz spotted one man at the information tent with "a gun."  He hasn't had much exposure to guns (no hunters in the family) so I suggested he ask the man to show it to him.


This man (dressed as Spanish Militia, by the way) took a great deal of  time to explain the flintlock musket; even starting a fire with his flint and steel to explain what was going on in the musket and couldn't be seen.

We watched craftsman tanning hides and making bows and arrows.  There was a ghastly display of frontier medical tools (I hesitate to call them instruments because they were neither fine nor sanitary).  The "doctor" explained that medicine used to be a trade with apprenticeships just like a blacksmith or barrelmaker.   Even the clergy was represented in this camp--the "Reenactor's Reverend" has a display of artifacts representing our Christian heritage.  I asked him for a card to see if he would bring the display to our homeschool co-op.  He said he wasn't set up to do that just yet and then remarked that he'd talked to a lot of homeschoolers over the weekend.  I said "Of Course.  This is fun, educational, and free."

Speaking of free--here's a wonderful opportunity if you live close enough to the St. Charles area.  On Monday, June 22 at 7pm there is an informal meeting to introduce the Lewis & Clark Fife and Drum Corps.  It's open to kids ages 10-18; uniforms, equipment, and instruction are free.  You just have to commit to the rehearsal schedule.  More information can be found at

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